Pittsburgh Public Schools

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When students Bishal Rai, Arpun Khadka and Gabriel Sahij walk into Concord Elementary School in Carrick, a welcome sign greets them in English, Spanish and Nepali. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools is turning to more progressive methods of discipline, after finding that cut and dry methods, like Zero Tolerance, led to too many suspensions.

Back in the ‘90s, many schools started using those methods as a way to motivate kids to behave.

They put police officers in schools, along with metal detectors. They issued harsh punishments to prevent bigger offenses. 

It became a way of doing things, but opponents say rather than getting students to behave, it was just pushing them out of school. Now administrators shy away from those methods.

Cali4beach / Flickr

Education advocacy group A+ Schools is seeking members for its volunteer review board tasked with overseeing new board members representing Pittsburgh Public Schools.

With three new members sworn in, the Pittsburgh Public School Board has only two members who have served for more than two years. The other four were elected in 2013.

A+ Executive Director Carey Harris said volunteers are city residents prepped by the organization's staffers about current state and national policy.

Pittsburgh Public Schools

Moira Kaleida and Lynda Wrenn might both be new to the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors, but they’re not new to the district. 

A+ Schools

A+ Schools' annual analysis of Pittsburgh Public Schools noted again a troubling academic disparity between the district's black and white students.

“The gap is in the 30s,” said Carey Harris, the Pittsburgh-based advocacy group's executive director. “That’s got to be a focus, and I think probably the No. 1 concern leading up to that (will) be attendance and suspensions.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Westinghouse High School officials announced Thursday a new Emergency Response Technology program promising career training for students interested in public safety. 

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

People use Kickstarter to fund everything from tuition payments to weddings. But now, it's being used for creative education programs in Pittsburgh-area schools.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is solvent until at least 2028, according to its seventh annual report to the community released Tuesday. Guests to the presentation at the Hill House were greeted by kindergarten students from Phillips and Weil elementary schools, donning shirts that read “I am the class of 2028” and giving out enthusiastic handshakes.

Office of Jake Wheatley

A project at Pittsburgh’s Brashear High School to place small “libraries” throughout the community is picking up steam with local lawmakers.

The project, launched last year by parent Debra Smallwood and a career and technical engineering class, builds and decorates wooden boxes to be installed at local organizations. Host facilities agree to stock the boxes with books and place them in a public location so that passersby can borrow the books or add to the collections.

90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane has announced she will let her contract expire in June 2016 and will not seek an extension. Lane first served as deputy superintendent and spent the last five years in her current role.

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

  Twenty Pittsburgh Public Schools welcomed hordes of excited and apprehensive kindergartners on Thursday with Freddy the Frog, a green frog mascot representing the district's readiness program.

“We make a big celebration for the kindergarten children coming in for the first time and for their parents,” said Carole Barone-Martin, Pittsburgh Public's executive director of early childhood education.

Five of the nine Pennsylvania schools that will receive federal School Improvement Grants are in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday.

On one hand, it’s great news, because it means $7.3 million in additional funding is coming to PPS over the next five years. On the other hand, it means five of the lowest-achieving schools in the state that have not made substantial progress on state assessments are located in Pittsburgh.

courtesy A+ Schools

Rigorous course offerings and positive reinforcement for hard work creates a more healthy, successful school environment, according to Amy Scott, director of research and data analysis for A+ Schools.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools advocacy group released a report this week detailing its findings of what leads to a positive school climate. Scott said the group has trained volunteers to interview school staff members who remain anonymous since 2009. The interview data is compiled and a report released yearly.

Chromos Cares Improving The Vision Of Pittsburgh Children

Aug 20, 2015
Matheus Almeida / flickr

The American Foundation for Vision Awareness estimates up to 25 percent of school-age children have vision problems that impair their academic performance. To combat this, Lawrenceville-based Chromos Eyewear is partnering with Pittsburgh Public Schools to provide students with proper eye care. Joining us for an in-depth look at the Chromos Cares program are Chromos Eyewear founder Daniel Childs and PPS assistant superintendent Dara Ware Allen.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

In two years, Pittsburgh’s Woolslair Elementary has gone from the verge of closure to one of the cornerstones of the district’s new STEAM initiative. Woolslair will become a partial magnet school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

More than 100 Pittsburgh students toured the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park on Friday to talk to experts about science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The lab was one of four in the country selected to host the event as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which challenges cities to focus on programming for at-risk youth.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Promise stewards announced Tuesday they plan to drop the scholarship's maximum four-year award from $40,000 to $30,000 beginning with the class of 2017.

Flickr user woodleywonderworks

A week after Governor Tom Wolf stopped at a Harrisburg prison to promote his plan to increase early education funding, Pittsburgh City Council will consider the link between public safety and preschool.

A bill approving the Department of Public Safety’s “Promised Beginnings” initiative is scheduled to come up for discussion in Council’s committee meeting Wednesday.

Minority students are being unfairly targeted for out-of-school suspensions, according to some parents, teachers and concerned citizens expected to rally before Pittsburgh Public Schools ' 6 p.m. board meeting at their Oakland office on Tuesday.

Black children represented 54 percent of Pittsburgh's 26,041 students last year but received 77 percent of the district's 9,382 suspensions, according to data compiled by advocacy group Great Public Schools Pittsburgh. Students with disabilities accounted for 17 percent of enrollment but received 27 percent of out-of-school suspensions. 

Flickr User Shinichi Sugiyama

More Pennsylvania students and schools would benefit from private funding if State Representative Jim Christiana’s bill to expand two education tax credit programs becomes law.

Nearly $900,000 in grant funding has been pledged to implement Pittsburgh Public School’s plan to transition a Bloomfield elementary school into a partial STEAM magnet.

The school board voted to develop Woolslair PreK-5, the district’s smallest school with 110 students, into a partial science, technology, engineering, arts and math – or STEAM – magnet school in September after initial plans to close the school. The plan also includes developing curriculum at three other STEAM magnets, Lincoln prek-5, Schiller 6-8 and Perry High School. The board will vote to accept the grants at the April 22 legislative meeting.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

In Jim Seagriff’s classroom at Taylor Allderdice High School, there are a half dozen furnaces and boilers. A small closet area is set up the way a basement would be. Goggle-clad teenagers adjust knobs on mock refrigerators.

These are HVAC students in the Career and Technical Education program.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A task force charged with examining and recommending changes for Pittsburgh Public Schools has released its report after a year of work. It focuses on five areas: public safety, out-of-school-time programming, community schools, school funding and marking the city’s schools.

When the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh recently asked community leaders to identify the biggest unmet needs for children the number one priority was prevention of childhood obesity.

It just so happens that Children’s Hospital has a weight and wellness center, and a partnership with the Pittsburgh Public school district was quickly formed.

“When we interacted with [district leaders] they asked that we partner with some type of program with established outcomes that would help us better monitor our success,” said Children’s Hospital Vice President Kathy Guatteri.

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) are making progress in the graduation rate, and the number of students enrolled in AP classes, but that progress is not seen equally throughout the district according to A+ Schools 10th anniversary report on the 2013-14 school year.

The report examines all schools in several categories including: proficiency of teachers, per pupil spending (excluding transportation, principal salary and building costs), if students feel challenged and cared for, suspension rates, PSSA scores, and a breakdown of most scores based on race and income.

Flickr user joseph a

Pittsburgh’s City Task Force for Public Education has achieved its primary goal of preventing any school closures for the 2014-15 school year, but City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said there’s still more work for the group to do.

That’s why she is sponsoring legislation to turn the temporary task force into a permanent commission.

Of the 51 schools in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district rated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, only 16 of them met or exceeded the state’s goal of have all schools obtaining at least 70 points on a 0-100 scale.

A one-year study on community engagement in public education found that empowering parents and the community to be more active in their children’s education could improve outcomes for students.

That's according to a one-year analysis done Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (AISR) on behalf of the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments. As a result, Heinz Endowments is supporting a two-year effort to increase community engagement.

With 5,200 students benefiting from the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship fund in the last six years and more than $140 million dollars raised toward a $250 million goal, Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril is pleased with the progress.

The numbers were announced as part of the program’s annual report to the community release Wednesday. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As school budgets continue to shrink or remain flat, many teachers are left short of needed equipment, or have classroom wish lists that don’t fall into budgeting priorities.

Enter the website DonorsChoose.org.

Through Donors Choose, teachers submit requests and then anyone can donate to whichever project they chose – hence the name.

On Thursday, Google announced it was fully funding the requests of 79 Pittsburgh-area teachers.

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