education

School Districts See Changes, but Enrollment Holding Steady

Amid uncertainty and rising economic distress, school districts in the Pittsburgh region are reporting relatively steady enrollment numbers entering the new academic year, although demand for online-only education within districts and among cyber charter schools appears to be on the rise. The reopening of schools has been a hot topic of debate in southwestern Pennsylvania …

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Bending Education

We asked the leaders of numerous secondary schools to describe how they’re dealing with the year ahead by answering this question: “How are you approaching the coming school year differently and what opportunities do you expect will accompany the new challenges?” Scott D. Fech, Winchester Thurston While every aspect of the coming school year is …

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Back to School?

Back-to-school shoppers are scooping up tracksuits, vintage 1990s oversized tees and everything tie-dye. But this year, many local students will debut their first day of school outfit on Zoom or coordinate the look with a face mask when they step on the school bus. Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the school year last March, schools …

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The Pittsburgh Today Regional Education Survey

The Pittsburgh Today Regional Education Survey is the most comprehensive survey to date to ask Allegheny County residents about their experiences and perspectives regarding education and the local public schools that educate 115,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12.  The online survey was conducted by Pittsburgh Today and the University Center for Social and Urban …

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Gauging K–12 Education Quality

Allegheny County residents are tough graders when assessing the performance of the public schools that educate 115,000 county children in grades kindergarten through 12, a far-ranging survey of their views on education suggests. Fewer than half give schools a better-than-fair rating for their class size, funding, student preparedness, parental involvement and diversity of the student …

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On a Pedestal: Clarion River, Innovation in Education

Western Pennsylvania is blessed with an abundance of water at a time when many places in the world find it increasingly scarce. But having ample water isn’t enough if it is tainted with pollutants. And the region long has been guilty of negligence when it comes to keeping its waterways clean and healthy. The Clarion …

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City Public Schools Wither as Economy Booms

Austin is learning that much-desired economic success can have unintended consequences. The city’s declining school-age population and public school enrollment is citywide topic of conversation among Austin Independent School District (AISD) officials and Austin residents, including parents of school age children, taxpayers without children in school and local economic development professionals thrown in the mix. …

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Developing Young Minds

On May 1, 1969, a western Pennsylvania native with a relatively unknown children’s program testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Communication. Public broadcasting faced having its $20 million budget cut in half, and policymakers were skeptical about the educational benefit of children watching television—until Fred Rogers spoke of his year-old show and television’s potential to …

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3 Not-So-Simple Questions, Part III

Editor’s note: This is part three of a feature that began in the pages of the Fall issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly. We invited the heads of the region’s top independent schools to address three important questions, in 200 words or less for each. The second of the questions is below, along with the answers. For …

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Democracy, Populism, and the Tyranny of the Experts, Part II

I launched this series of posts by taking a brief tour of a regrettable society called Acirema, in which a race of experts called Masters, though a tiny minority, lorded it over a sub-race of non-experts called Slaves. We’re back, now, in America and wondering if Acerima society might offer a moral for us. Not …

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Loose Change, Part VI

In my last few posts we looked at some of the more controversial “changes” in the international arena that seem to be demanded. Now we’ll turn to the domestic sector, beginning with education. The controversy surrounding Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Education Secretary obscures a far more urgent issue: the state of American public education today, especially …

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Going It Alone

Most of the women who trust their children to Jamie Tabb’s cottage childcare business in Turtle Creek are struggling to get by under circumstances she knows well. She’s a single woman raising children on her own, as they are. She’s been employed and poor at the same time. She’s had to allow limited public transit …

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A Shrinking Resource

Not that long ago, the state Department of Education was a robust repository of expertise for 500 Pennsylvania school districts, offering curricular guidance ranging from math to art to best practices for improving school effectiveness and education outcomes. Those days, however, are largely gone as a new environment has taken hold, one in which federal …

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A Question of Learning

As a digital revolution changes classrooms across the region and country, one key question lingers at the end of each school day: Do the new technologies actually enhance students’ learning? The answer is unclear. After decades of research in fields such as cognitive science, the debate is no longer about whether digital technologies have the …

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Rethinking Education

Janice Smith’s fifth-grade reading class at Central Elementary in the Elizabeth Forward School District was supposed to be working on a book report. Huddled around iPads, the students chatted with one another, pointing and swiping at the screens. No one was being shushed, few were sitting square in their seats, and no one was holding …

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Esther L. Barazzone, Educator & Administrator

I grew up in Bluefield, W.Va., a town of about 16,000, which had no “wrong side” of the tracks—because it was all tracks, for trains moving coal out of southern West Virginia. I lived there with my mother, stepfather and three brothers. Three out of four of my grandparents were immigrants—from Italy, Belgium and Ireland—and, …

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Beyond difference

Even before the performance of “Land of Oz” begins, it’s obvious that different rules apply here. Eyes dart around the auditorium and settle down in focused “listening”—sight is the primary way people here share information. To get someone’s attention, wave a hand in the air. To ignore someone, at which the high schoolers are particularly …

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Attendance Matters

Juvenile court Judge Dwayne Woodruff sees the worst of the problem. “By the time kids get to me they’ve missed 50, 60, 80 days of school,” he says. It’s a common thread running through the Allegheny County cases over which he presides, regardless of whether the student is delinquent or in need of protective custody …

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The College Cost Question

Jerry schmitt had just finished paying for the college educations of his two older sons, Ben and Jordan, when it came time for the college years of his daughter, Ameeta. Jerry knew what to expect. Large tuition bills. Loans. Paperwork. A rush of financial decision-making that induced an odd mix of confusion, outrage (how could …

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Finding New Ways

It’s around noon, and the winter sun shines on Fanny Edel Falk Elementary School at the top of the hilly University of Pittsburgh campus. Through a window facing southeast from one of Falk’s language arts classrooms, it looks as if you can see forever—toward Pittsburgh’s east suburbs and beyond. Many of the students seem keenly …

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A City-Centric Provost

To hear Patricia Beeson describe it, driving into Pittsburgh through the Fort Pitt tunnel is like stumbling upon some kind of hidden Brigadoon. When she arrived in the city in 1983 after driving across the country from her native Oregon, Beeson had Simon and Garfunkel’s on-the-road anthem “America”—complete with reference to Pittsburgh—cued up for that first view …

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Thank You for the Dance

Every Tuesday and Wednesday morning last fall, students in Laurie Collier’s and Maureen Kedzuf’s fifth-grade class lined up in escort position at Arlington Accelerated Academy and headed to the gymnasium to dance. They were among the more than 300 fifth-graders from six elementary schools participating in Dancing Classrooms’ inaugural year in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. …

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