Pittsburgh Public Schools

Thanks to a series of retirements, the Pittsburgh Public School Board now has four new members — the highest turnover for the board in 14 years. The new members are excited and optimistic about the future of the district, though all say they’re expecting a tough job.

Sylvia Wilson is taking over the seat vacated by one-term board member Sharene Shealy. Wilson recently retired as assistant to the president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and wants to see change in the district.

Tammy Terwelp / 90.5 WESA

“Where’s the moral outrage over the lack of equity in education,” asked Duquesne University Dean of Education Olga Welch who attended a recent community forum on the achievement gap held by 90.5 WESA.

“Where is it,” replied forum panel member Jeremy Resnick, a founder of Propel Charter Schools, “it’s missing.”

Dozens of parents, teachers and administrators crowded the Community Broadcast Center recently for a public forum as part of WESA’s Life of Learning initiative.

Flickr

Lack of Internet access can puts some kids at an academic disadvantage, says Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane.

Comcast and Pittsburgh Public Schools are teaming together to offer another year of “Internet Essentials,” an initiative that provides low-cost Internet service to low-income families.

“Parents may have iPads, they may have smartphones that have connectivity, they may have desktop computers that are hooked to the Internet, or laptops,” Lane said. “But then we also have children who may have little of that or none at all, so that their access to the Internet is only at school.”

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith is calling for a moratorium on school closures in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district until the end of the 2014-15 school year.

She has introduced a resolution in council that would recommend the PPS Board of Directors halt any school closings.

At a rally in front of council chambers Monday morning, Kail-Smith invited parents, students, teachers, and community organizers to express their concern over a possible fourth round of school closures since the early 2000s.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Lost in the conversations surrounding education are often the voice of those being educated — the students.

By introducing the Pittsburgh Student Bill of Rights, a group of high school students is trying to make their voice heard and change what they perceive as the notion that they are “just kids.”

Ninety percent of success in school is showing up — that’s what the United Way and its partners believe.

The United Way launched its “Be There” campaign Monday aimed at making attendance a priority at schools across Allegheny County.

“The concept is very simple, it’s how do you get the people outside of the schools, the community agencies, the faith-based organizations, the youth workers who have a great relationship with young people, to encourage 100 percent attendance,” said Bob Nelkin, United Way of Allegheny County President.

A New York City-based childhood education foundation is assessing summer learning programs across the country, including one in Pittsburgh.

The Wallace Foundation, a supporter of Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Summer Dreamers Academy, hired Rand Corp., a nonprofit research group, to see if summer education programs improve student learning.

Senior Research and Evaluation Officer Ann Stone said the foundation is looking for ways students can have academic gains that last.

A new coalition of Pittsburgh faith leaders is adding their voice to the issue of education.

Through the nationwide Shepherding the Next Generation program, the group aims to support teachers and ensure all educators are effective and encourage Pittsburgh Public Schools to continue its push to hire and retain highly effective teachers. The group also released a report that highlights the importance of skilled educators.

Making Promises the City Can Keep

Jul 26, 2013
Gates Foundation / flickr

The Pittsburgh Promise has been providing scholarships to Pittsburgh public school students since 2008. They've pledged to promote the development of neighborhoods, city school reform, and give city students access and opportunities to attend a higher education institution.

Five years since its inception, the first batch of Promise recipients are graduating from their respective colleges and universities, and many critics are argue that the program has not been effective. Saleem Ghubril, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Promise maintains that the scholarship program is helping hundreds of students succeed after high school, while Jake Haulk, President of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, asserts that little has been done to improve the quality of the public schools. He says students are not receiving a sufficient education upon high school graduation.

A recent policy brief from conservative think tank Allegheny Institute for Public Policy states that the Pittsburgh Promise is falling well short of its goals, and that its mission should be completely re-focused. But this isn’t the first time the Allegheny Institute has taken on the Pittsburgh Promise.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A new-to-Pennsylvania program is hoping to increase enrollment in advanced placement classes in two Pittsburgh high schools, with the ultimate goal to ensure more kids, especially kids of color, are prepared for higher education – whatever form that may take.

More than 100 students at Pittsburgh Brashear High School are currently enrolled in advanced placement, or AP, classes. Through a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, and a grant from the Heinz Endowments, work will get underway to increase that number.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Heinz History Center on Tuesday kicked off the Healthy Heritage Cooking Series, a three-month pilot program designed to introduce students to Italian, Syrian and Bulgarian cooking and connect health to history.

Viviana Altieri, who directed an Italian cooking demonstration, is the executive director of Mondo Italiano, a local meet-up organization that promotes Italian language and culture. She said food traditions have always been important to mankind and that the Healthy Heritage series will broaden students’ cultural horizons.

Comparing this phase of his campaign to the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” Pittsburgh City Councilman and Democratic Mayoral Candidate Bill Peduto is rolling out a different education-related policy initiative every day this week.

The move is part of his 100 Days/100 Policies effort.

“If we lack quality public education in this city it does not mater what type of city government we have, people will not chose to live here,” Peduto said. “If we enhance public education in the city then we have the critical building block to do a whole lot more within city government.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Nine people running for the Pittsburgh School Board have signed a pledge that outlines a “vision of excellence” for the district. The so-called Equity and Excellence Pledge was drafted by A+ Schools, a nonpartisan public education advocacy group.

“When we say equity, we mean providing every kid with the support necessary to reach and exceed a shared standard, which for us is graduating from high school and completing post-secondary education,” said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools.

The pledge calls on the candidate to make policies that ensure:

Pittsburgh Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane has been awarded a three-year contract extension.  

Lane, who was appointed as superintendent in December 2010, will see her salary increase to $220,000 effective September.

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

US Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) used a sixth grade classroom as a backdrop to talk about bullying. Students, teachers and parents at Pittsburgh Mifflin preK-8 School have implemented an aggressive anti-bullying campaign, and Casey said he’s like to see such efforts at all schools. To that end, he has introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. A bill that will tackle bullying.

Pages