Education

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

  The district attorney was reviewing allegations that a police officer assigned to a suburban Pittsburgh school knocked out the tooth of a 14-year-old student accused of stealing another student's cell phone.

Google Maps

Administrators at five of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities have given faculty notice that layoffs and program cuts could occur in the 2018-19 school year, as the State System of Higher Education struggles generally with an enrollment drop.

Mansfield University administrators filed a notice March 21. Faculty at California, Clarion, Edinboro and Cheyney universities have since been notified.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

On Saturdays, local teens take over the state-of-the-art recording studios on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus to lay down tracks about their lives and the people in them.

The program, Arts Greenhouse, started as a community project at the Center for the Arts in Society.

Pittsburgh's Maker Space Support Network Goes National

Mar 13, 2017
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

A national program launched by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to support maker space development in schools is taking on a new set of national and local partners.

In 2015, the museum launched a year-long pilot program, Kickstarting Making, that supported 10 local schools in raising funds for maker space efforts. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State House members kicked off their third and final week of budget hearings with an all-day Q&A with education officials.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed plan includes a $100 million boost for general education funding, which returns the allocation almost to its 2011 peak.

But talk has centered on what’s getting cut.

With the commonwealth facing a nearly $3 billion structural deficit, the 2017-18 budget proposal is significantly leaner than Wolf’s last two.

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera noted, that put his department under some pressure.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania gets a failing grade for its efforts to protect children from high levels of lead in the water at their schools, according to a report released two weeks ago from Public Interest Research Groups, a national federation of left-leaning, independent nonprofits.

It advises—among other things—that schools install water filters as soon as possible while working on longer-term solutions.

Elaine Thomson / AP

A federal judge on Monday ruled that three transgender students at a Pennsylvania high school, including the sister of a singer who performed at President Donald Trump's inauguration, can use bathrooms that correspond to their stated gender identities while their lawsuit challenging the school district's policy continues.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Updated: 1:53 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools District says it is committed to supporting transgender students and has not changed its nondiscrimination policy following the Trump administration’s move to rescind protections.

The National Council on Teacher Quality and the EducationCounsel
Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fifth grader Jaylen Hocker popped up from his front row seat at the O’Reilly Theater. He walked onto the stage, held up a hand to block the bright theater lights from his eyes and waited for the OK from a panel of judges before he began. 

“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies. And what’s his reason? I am a Jew," he said, reciting William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

Keith Srakocic / AP

Declining enrollment is causing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to restructure some of its elementary schools.

Last weekend, Diocese officials announced that 10 elementary schools in the North Hills would be put under a single administration. The changes will go into effect next fall.

Bishop David Zubik said now, all 32 regional parishes will support those schools.

'Human Library' Allows Penn State Community To Check Out Diverse Life Experiences

Feb 17, 2017
Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

Brian Davis is well-known around campus, and not just because the Penn State junior is always wearing a suit. He's triple majoring and double minoring, is actively involved in organizations across campus and has the ear of the University's president.

But that's not where his story begins.

"So my story is about me growing up in West Philadelphia, and for me joining a gang, and to how that was for me every single day," said Davis. "Whether that was getting shot at, fearing for my life, or fighting just because that was the mental capacity I had at the time."

Hans Pennink / AP

According to some school administrators, we’re entering truancy season -- the time when schools start taking action on students who have racked up too many missed days.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Brentwood Middle School geography teacher Casey Phillips was scared to take a step forward, lest he fall 64 stories from the top of the U.S. Steel Tower to the street below.

“That’s how realistic it is,” he said. “That is nuts.”

Phillips wasn’t really standing atop the building in downtown Pittsburgh, but it felt like he was because of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset he was wearing.

Gregory Bull / AP

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is bracing itself for changes spurred by financial troubles.

The Reading Eagle reports enrollment at the 14 state-owned universities has dropped by nearly 15,000 students since 2010. Pennsylvania schools are also receiving ten percent less in state sponsored aid this year.

State budget constraints offer even less hope for the system.

Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey joined 49 of his fellow Republicans in confirming Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement released before his vote, Toomey said he was pleased to vote in favor of the school choice advocate.

“Because of Betsy’s work to expand charter schools, virtual schools, school choice, tuition tax credits and education savings accounts, hundreds of thousands of children who had been trapped in failing schools have been able to access a quality education,” Toomey wrote.

Matt Rourke / AP

Federal authorities say two rare, early 19th century notebooks have been returned to a Philadelphia college after they were stolen from a collection sometime between 1965 and 2006.

The documents, from 1809 and 1811, were part of a set of four journals belonging to the Stephen Girard Collection at Girard College. School officials discovered the volumes were missing at some point last decade.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Emmaline Thompson, 9, danced around the dining room table with her 3-year-old sister and the family’s pitbull as her mom prepared dinner. Her mom, Rebecca Maclean, gathered the kids and made them sit at the table to watch as Emmaline opened a letter from the Pittsburgh Public School District.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

What little difference four years can make.

Students at Kenderton Elementary have seen five principals and heard countless broken promises in fewer years.

Ian Willms / for Keystone Crossroads

 

A diverse group of very young students sit cross-legged for story time at Rose Avenue elementary in Toronto.  The kids are joyful, yet focused, and the group is small enough that the two teachers in the room are able to give one-on-one attention when needed.  

Ian Willms / for Keystone Crossroads

When Erica Brunato decided to become a teacher in Ontario, she knew the road ahead would be long and steep.

“We all knew coming into this program — even just applying for the program — what it was going to be like, right? And I said, ‘I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.’ So that didn’t stop me,” she said.

Compared to Pennsylvania, teacher preparation in Ontario is more rigorous and the job market is much more competitive.

Ian Willms / For Keystone Crossroads

 

Eight year-old Sirvat Labiba emigrated with her family from Bangladesh to Ontario, Canada when she was three. She lives in the Crescent Town neighborhood of Toronto with her mother, father and little sister in a high-rise apartment tower.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

For the third straight year, the Pittsburgh Public School’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a general budget without a tax increase.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education formally approved contracts with the union representing more than 5,000 faculty members and coaches at the 14 state-owned universities.

The contracts signed Tuesday were already approved by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties following the union's first-ever strike in October.

More than $77 million in raises were handed out as part of the contracts, which are retroactive to July 2015.

Yoshimitsu Kurooka / flickr

A new program aims at rewarding Pittsburgh employers who hire Pittsburgh Promise scholarship recipients.

Councilman Corey O'Connor announced the program on Monday. Businesses that hire Pittsburgh Promise alumni would be eligible for grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Companies must hire a college graduate for full-time employment and retain the employee for at least six months. O'Connor says the money will benefit employers and employees. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

Approximately 190 Ambridge Area School District teachers are on strike.

Schools are closed Tuesday after educators in the Beaver County district walked off the job following months of contract negotiations. The school board and teachers' union remain at odds over salaries and health benefits.

Specifically, the district says the teachers pay only $25 per month for full family health care coverage, and are balking at a proposed increase in their share of the monthly premium.

The teachers' contract expired in June 2015.

Eugene Tanner / AP

Nathan Rosswog showed his eighth grade students a photo of his grandfather, a World War II veteran. The Urban Pathways Charter School teacher told them his grandfather wasn’t at Pearl Harbor, but shared stories of friends he knew who were at the naval base during the attack.

Brian Cantoni / Flickr

A former University of Pittsburgh student who pleaded guilty to being the go-between for Chinese students who paid to have impostors take college entrance exams for them faces sentencing before a federal judge.

Han Tong faces up to three years in prison on Monday, though his attorney is expected to argue for leniency.

Tong is one of 15 Chinese citizens charged by federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh last year with conspiring to have impostors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or other college entrance tests in western Pennsylvania since 2011.

Aaron Warnick / PublicSource

 

What was supposed to be a routine visit to the pediatrician with little Oren resulted in a finding that sent Katy Rank Lev and her husband, Corey, into a frenzy.

Their 1-year-old had lead in his blood.

Pages