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Back to school: What local STEM students can learn from Israel

In a matter of days, Pittsburgh-area schools will open their doors to welcome students and teachers to the start of another school year. But a group of educators will head back to school armed with a professional experience abroad that has opened their minds: a seminar trip to Israel to study science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM subjects in academic and research circles.

Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Classrooms Without Borders (CWB) sponsored the 21 educators who spent 12 days exploring Israel's cutting-edge technology through visits to facilities such as the Asher Space Research Institute; the Rambam Hospital underground emergency crisis center; the factory that produces the Iron-Dome technology; Israeli branches of Intel, Microsoft and Google; Palestinian startup companies; and the Jewish-Arab Nazareth Industrial Park.

Principals and teachers on the trip represented 20 private, charter and Catholic schools including Oakland Catholic High School, Propel Braddock Hills High School and the Environmental Charter School at Frick Park, said Tsipy Gur, founder and director of CWB.

CWB chose Israel as a destination because the nation is a global leader in the world of science, technology, engineering and math, Gur said. The country also boasts the highest number of scientists, technicians and engineers per capita in the world, according to Gur. 

Gur said that the trip provides a worthwhile opportunity for educators to experience multi-disciplinary approaches and innovative programs that work at solving serious national problems, such as water scarcity. Those new ways of thinking translate to teaching STEM subject matter in the classrooms, she added. 

"When a teacher speaks from experience and radiates enthusiasm in a subject matter -- especially STEM subjects -- students become engaged and inspired in ways that text books are unable to duplicate," Gur said.

Classrooms Without Borders, which also sponsored a study seminar in Greece this summer, is a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

For those local students whose teachers didn't travel the world for STEM experiences, a new fabrication lab at the Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore will open later this month. The Fab Foundation and Chevron, among other organizations, are opening the FAB Lab for students, teachers and the general Pittsburgh community to create, experiment and build their STEM skills.

Equipment at the FAB Lab will include 3-D printers, laser cutters, computers and software, electronics workbench equipment including robotics, sewing and embroidery machines, and projectors and documentation cameras. A mobile FAB Lab will travel to the region's schools during the upcoming school year.

FAB Lab Carnegie Science Center is the third of 10 Fab Labs that Chevron is developing in partnership with The Fab Foundation. Chevron has invested more than $140 million in education in the United States since 2010, according to a press release.


Peduto appointed co-chair of National League of Cities' council

Among Mayor Bill Peduto’s copious duties, he also joins the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Institute of Youth, Education, and Families (YEF) as the newly appointed YEF co-chair. 

The mayor will serve as a national family advocate, campaigning before Congress and the Obama Administration for issues such as childhood development and education, violence prevention and economic success.

Read more about the work of NLC committees and councils here.

Duquesne makes President's Community Service Honor Roll

Duquesne University recently received the nation’s highest federal recognition for universities that strengthen communities in two areas: General Community Service and Education. Thanks to the 280,000 hours of community service amassed by Duquesne Students during the 2012-13 school year, the college made The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Duquesne was the only Pittsburgh institution honored for General Community Service with Distinction, the second-highest recognition presented by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. This marks the fifth consecutive year that Duquesne has achieved the prestigious ranking for efforts to improve the lives of community residents, particularly low-income individuals.
Read more about the President’s Higher Education Honor Roll here.


'City of 21st Century Learners' has lessons to share

Pittsburgh is a model for education innovation and has a lot to teach other cities about building, maintaining and measuring an Education Innovation Cluster, according to the education technology website EdSurge.

In a post titled "Lessons from Pittsburgh: Rallying the Local Troops Around Innovation in Education," blogger Tony Zanders cites Pittsburgh’s collaborative culture, history of education innovation, stellar local universities, and nonprofit efforts as setting an example for other cities to follow.

“It was so refreshing to see a city working in concert … as demonstrated by the over 60 organizations contributing to the city’s learning community,” Zanders writes.

Read the full blog post here.

CMU professor receives national medal

Mary Shaw, the Alan J. Perliss University professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, was recently honored by President Obama. Shaw was one of eight recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for achievement in the field of technology, innovation and invention.

“These scholars and innovators have expanded our understanding of the world, made invaluable contributions to their fields, and helped improve countless lives,” President Obama said. “Our nation has been enriched by their achievements and by all the scientists and technologists across America dedicated to discovery, inquiry, and invention.”

Read more about Shaw’s honor here.

Mayor Peduto visits 'Meet the Press'

Mayor Bil Peduto joined Mayors Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, Wash. and Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City on Chuck Todd's inaugural issue of Sunday morning news talk show, Meet the Press to discuss what the national government can learn from local politics.

"Well, I mean, the ultimate goal is what is the vision," Peduto said. "And it has to be a shared vision, just as we have to work with our councils, the president needs to work with the Congress. But at the end of the day, you have to move forward."

The Mayor also discussed Pittsburgh's success and the need for creating a universal early childhood education program in the city.

Watch the full episode here.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study says texts can reduce binge drinking

The British Psychological Society recently reported a study that took place at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine which suggests text messages can prevent young people from binge alcohol consumption. 

The study examined 765 young adult emergency patients who had previously screened positive for hazardous drinking habits. Some patients were sent text messages containing questions about their alcohol consumption and then received feedback on their response. Some received only questions about their drinking tendencies and others received no messages at all. 

According to the research, the young adults that received both questioning and feedback were more likely to reduce binge drinking. 

"Alcohol may bring them to the ER, but we can do our part to keep them from becoming repeat visitors," says Dr. Brian Suffoletto, the managing director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Pitt student seeks donations after parents cut her off for her sexuality

The Huffington Post UK and the New York Daily News took notice when Kate Koenig, a would-be sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, set up a GoFundMe page to raise $15,000 after her parents cut her off and refused to co-sign loans for her schooling because she identifies as both gay and pansexual. 

Koenig was unintentionally outed when her father looked through her mail before the start of her freshmen year and was able to attend her first two semesters at Pitt as they were already paid for. Koenig has been blogging and posting YouTube videos about her struggles since last September with the hashtag #KeepKateInCollege. 

Since creating her page last Wednesday, Koenig has received more than $7,000 in donations and countless messages of support. 

“Going to Pitt is a dream of mine and I couldn't bear the thought of not being able to stay there,” Koenig writes.

German town follows in Pittsburgh's footsteps

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Bochum, Germany is taking a page out of Pittsburgh’s history books to recover from an industrial collapse. 

After World War II, the city was rebuilt on mining and steel production and later turned to manufacturing. Now, the city is turning to technology and healthcare, much like Pittsburgh, to reconstruct the economy.

At the helm of Bochum’s revival is the city’s largest employer, Ruhr University. With a focus on information science and healthcare, the university intends to mold Bochum into a science hub. 

Uwe Neumann, a regional economy researcher at the Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Institut fuer Wirtschaftsforschung e.V. institute in nearby Essen says that it’s easy to compare Pittsburgh and Bochum. 

“The location and the population have proven adaptable. The all-hands-on-deck mentality and the willingness to take your destiny into your own hands play a very important role and are a significant advantage,” Neumann says.

Huffington features Grable head on education: Be the Jetsons, not the Flintstones

Gregg Behr, executive director of the Grable Foundation (which supports Kidsburgh quarterly), hits the Huffington Post with a piece about the local effort to remake learning, called "When It Comes to Education, Let's Be The Jetsons Not The Flintstones."

Pittsburgh best place to launch a startup, says Avere CEO

Rob Bianchini Jr., CEO of Avere Systems speaks to the power of Pittsburgh's deep talent pool to help entrepreneurs build themselves from the ground up in a Wall Street Journal editorial. "Because I was born in Brooklyn, I will always have an affinity for New York. But there are many reasons why I chose to build my businesses in the Steel City. Pittsburgh, once a picture of blue-collar America, is now a thriving and forward-thinking city, with some of the most advanced research and entrepreneurial minds in the U.S. That is why I not only started my first company here, but also my second and third. Pittsburgh has many things that make it unique, but there are some key components that make it the best place to launch a startup."

To read more about starting-up in Pittsburgh, click here.

South Hills kids can return to school in style with free backpacks, haircuts

On August 17th, South Hills kids in Pittsburgh will get a head start in their back-to-school shopping.

 "Our Advisory Board had the idea to ask the Mt. Lebanon School District to do a backpack collection and all 10 schools participated," said Major Paul Moore, Salvation Army Pittsburgh Temple Corps Worship and Service Center Commanding Officer. "Model Cleaners graciously agreed to clean the donated packs at no charge.  And, South Hills Beauty Academy has a history of serving our families in need.  It is a win/win for everyone."

Applications will be accepted until Friday, August 9th at (412) 207-2127 or MaryAnne_McFeely@use.salvationarmy.org.  School-age children from preschool through grade 12 who reside in the South Hills area are welcome.

To read more about the backpack giveaway and project, click here.

Pittsburgh, an EdTech Hive and home of the Kids + Creativity movement

Why is Pittsburgh called the "EdTech Hive" in this piece in Education Week? For dozens of reasons, from the recent launch of Hive Pittsburgh to the new TechShop and very popular MakeShop (at the Children's Museum).

"Pittsburgh educators, innovators and organizations have come together to form the Kids+Creativity Network--more than 100 organizations, including public school districts, non-profit groups, libraries, museums, afterschool programs and neighborhood community centers--which is committed to remaking learning in the greater Pittsburgh area."

More than a long and impressive list, the many and varied organizations and activieis are fast becoming a hub that's the envy of other cities.

Read the full piece here.

The Saxifrage School: The city as campus

Many of us have simply accepted that a college experience will cost more than buying a pair of Bentleys. Tim Cook isn't many of us. As the Wall St. Journal reports, his two year experiment, The Saxifrage School, offers classes at only $395 a piece and uses public space for classes and administrative offices instead of constructing a private campus to house its students. After all, Pittsburgh has plenty of apartments for rent, public libraries for textbooks, and coffee shops for classrooms. Why bother with expensive buildings and impractical isolation from the world outside of campus? Cook's dream is a Pittsburgh that is a city and a campus simultaneously.

To read the article, click here.

19 education advisors from around the globe gather in Pittsburgh around education

Last week 19 education advisors from around the world converged in Pittsburgh to learn more about our educational opportunities. It's a great opportunity to recruit international students, writes the author of this blog.

Read the Global Pittsburgh blog here.

Ellis students celebrate International Day of the Girl in this unscripted video

In honor of the United Nation's international Day of the Girl, the students of The Ellis School were asked, "What do you wish that adults would work for to make the world a better place for girls?"  See thee range of responses in this unscripted video then help share their message. What will you do to make the world a better place for girls and young women? 

Click here to view the video.

Pittsburgh: a model for addressing child homelessness

In 2010, there were 31,386 homeless children in Pennsylvania, writes Ralph da Costa, president of the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness. "To put this number in context, that is more than the entire University of Pittsburgh student body.

"Some of these homeless families are living in shelters. Many more are in motels, and doubled up, living two or more families in an overcrowded apartment. This instability would make it hard for anyone to learn.

"And though the nation is technically in recovery, the numbers of homeless children have risen. In Pennsylvania, there was a 46 percent increase in the number of children and youth experiencing homelessness from the 2008-09 school year to the 2009-10 school year.

The good news, he reports, is that in Pittsburgh and throughout Alleghany County, HCEF has inspired a coalition that includes U.S. Attorney David Hickton and many other passionate stakeholders. "Sadly, in most of the country, this community-wide buy-in has not yet happened."

Read the full story here.

CMU study asks, who gives a tweet?

In a joint research project, CMU learned a few things about how valuable--or not--tweets are. "Twitter users say only a little more than a third of the tweets they receive are worthwhile. Other tweets are either so-so or, in one out of four cases, not worth reading at all.

"If we understood what is worth reading and why, we might design better tools for presenting and filtering content, as well as help people understand the expectations of other users," said Paul André, a post-doctoral fellow in Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and lead author of the study.

Read the full story here.

Keeping the Promise: Putting 9th graders on the college path

Are you turned on to PublicSource yet? If not, here's your entry to the local in-depth journalism site with this feature article about the Pittsburgh Promise and the Promise-Readiness Corps.

"The Promise-Readiness Corps is part of the larger Empowering Effective Teachers plan, crafted by the district and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and using a $40 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of the teachers plan is to have more than 80 percent of students meet a 2.5 Grade Point Average and a 90 percent attendance rate required for a Promise scholarship and then complete a college degree."

Read the full story here.

The Fred Rogers Center launches Ele, innovative new digital learning site

The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College today launched a unique website that provides high quality digital media resources for early learning teachers, family child care providers, and families of young children birth to age five, free of charge.

The Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment— “Ele”, pronounced “El-­-Lee”) for short—includes:

A library of more than 100 ebooks, digital games, videos, music, mobile apps, and other activities selected as quality resources that support learning and literacy development. Some activities help adults support children’s language and literacy skills; others are designed for use by adults with children.

An online community where teachers, families, and others can ask questions, and connect and share with others who care about issues affecting young children.

By signing up for a free Ele account, users can organize the site’s resources around their own needs and interests, and then share them by creating Play!Lists. All resources include research-­-based suggestions and information on how and why to use Ele’s activities, under the headings, “Talk About It” and “Why This Is Important.”

Visitors meet Ele, an avatar that serves as the site’s friendly “guide.” Activities are easily searchable by age, educational setting, and media type; each activity includes accompanying user tips.

See the site here.

Who's curating quality children's digital media? The Fred Rogers Center, for one.

So, who is curating content and where can we go at the moment to try to work our way through the overwhelming amount of digital material and tools out there for our children? Thanks to the Fred Rogers Center and their statement on the quality of digital media, and also PAYEC, this author does his best to come up with a reasonable short list.

Read the full story here.

Carnegie Mellons seeks solutions to transit cuts

With the possible demise of the 28x, the bus that loops from Oakland to the airport, and other important bus routes that face the knife, Carnegie Mellon is already organizing meetings to seek solutions to how to get students to get around.

See the full story here from their campus newspaper.

Pittsburgh Phillips K-5 PTO recognized as a top parent group in the nation

It's more than the local bands that perform and the free carnival tickets. Phillips Elementary School has a highly motivated group of parents that work to keep the students and their families engaged and connected. Their efforts were recently recognized by the Parents Teachers Organization who named them one of the best parent groups in the country.

Read it in PTO Today.

Is Apollo's purchase of Carnegie Learning the start of an online revolution in higher learning?

When the Apollo Group, parent company of the University of Phoenix, purchased Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Learning this year, the online educator acquired powerful and affordable online teaching tools in math that are hard for a human teacher to match. Is this the beginning of a new era in better online learning? asks The Atlantic magazine.

Find out in The Atlantic.

Forbes ranks Pittsburgh's universities among top in nation

Forbes' annual list of the top schools and universities in the country rank five among the top 500: Carnegie Mellon (98), Grove City (145), Allegheny College (153), University of Pittsburgh (336) and Duquesne (394).

Top business schools included Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business (23) and University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business (51).

Read it in Forbes.

Apollo Group (aka University of Phoenix) buys Carnegie Learning for $75 million

The Apollo Group, which runs the University of Phoenix, has announced the $75 million purchase of downtown-based Carnegie Learning, makers of the highly successful online math instruction curriculum that combines classroom work with computer instruction. The program is used by 600,000 students in grades 6-12 in 3,000 schools nationwide.

Read it in the New York Times.

Seven Pittsburgh school districts rank top in the nation

Seven Pittsburgh public school districts were ranked the top in the nation for college preparedness by Washington Post's High School Challenge. The ranking was based on the total number of graduating seniors divided by the district's number of advanced placement or college level tests given in 2010. Among the districts that made the list (in the order they are listed): Upper St. Clair, Pine-Richland, Beaver Area, Mt. Lebanon, Hampton, North Hills and Taylor Allderdice.

Read the Washington Post.

Using a broader methodology--six components including graduation rates, test scores and college courses--Newsweek came out with its list of the top 500 school districts in the country. Hampton and North Allegheny both made the list. Read it in Newsweek.

Watch the winning student videos in the "Take a Shot at Changing the World" contest

View the winning videos, created by students from Mt. Lebanon High School, Hampton High School and Peters Township Middle School, who participated in the "Take a Shot at Changing the World"  contest. The contest challenged students to create their own short videos about the crippling disease of polio. Mt. Lebanon High School's Tyler Anderson's piece about a young woman's letter to her grandfather who had been afflicted with polio won the $5,000 grand prize and recognition on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation blog.

The contest was inspired by the new film "The Shot Felt 'Round the World," which documents how the medical team of Jonas Salk brought together the community of Pittsburgh to develop the polio vaccine.

Watch them here.

University of Pittsburgh makes The Princeton Review's Best Value Colleges list

The Princeton Review has released its annual list of colleges that give you the most institutional bang for your buck, and the University of Pittsburgh made the grade.  The list weighs tuition costs against student and faculty input and factors like loan accessibility, academic rankings, and resources.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Pittsburgh is the fifth most literate city in America

The results of CCSU's annual America's Most Literate Cities Survey are out and Pittsburgh scored fifth out of the 75 largest U.S. cities.  The criteria for the survey includes newspaper circulation, educational attainment, web resources, number of bookstores, and library resources.  Yinz sure read so much anymore! 

Click here to see the results.

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Cleveland wants Pittsburgh's promise

Several American cities have launched city-wide scholarship programs in recent years, one of the most famous being the Pittsburgh Promise, which has given 2,200 children the opportunity to attend four-year colleges and boosted high school graduation rates across the city.  Plain Dealer writer, Bren Larkin, wonders why Cleveland hasn't launched a similar initiative.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Kansas City looks to Pittsburgh's urban school reform successes

Kansas City's Saving 17,000 Kids site recently examined the progress over the last five years in reforming the Pittsburgh public school system.  The story points to some major improvements, spearheaded by Superintendent Mark Roosevelt, such as The Pittsburgh Promise, anti-poverty initiatives, and hikes in literacy achievement.  While Roosevelt's efforts are highly lauded, the story is careful to face the grim realities of education reform, and notes that Kansas City is at the beginning of a long road towards fixing it's scholastic problems.

Click here to read the entire article.

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More students investing in Pittsburgh higher education

According to a study by the Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research, which looked at enrollment figures for 25 area colleges, enrollment rates rose by 20% from 1996-2009.  The highest increases in enrollment were at CMU and Chatham.  Researchers and administrators are viewing the figures with great optimism, as the study suggests a better educated future workforce and improved local economy.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Pittsburgh summer school programs expand, while other programs face cuts cross the country

A tight budgetary climate is forcing school districts across the country to cut back on, or even eliminate, their summer school programs.  Many researchers note that this is a particularly alarming trend, since summer learning loss contributes to as much as two thirds of the achievement gap between disadvantages students and their wealthier peers who can afford expensive summer camps.  Pittsburgh is being pointed to as a shining anomaly in the trend, where school districts are tripling their summer enrollment, and opening the free Summer Dreamers Academy.  The new program will replace past remedial education programs with new methods that rethink summer school as summer camp, with enaging activities, such as judo, kayaking, and musical theater.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Fame! New HBO reality series Masterclass features young Pittsburgh-area artists

HBO's new documentary series Masterclass includes two young Pittsburgh-area artists, reports Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The nine-part series -- which chronicles talented high school seniors being mentored by arts luminaries -- premiered on HBO on Sunday, April 18. Abigail Adkins, a sophomore dance major at Point Park University, appears in an episode that airs May 9. Michael O'Brien of Greenfield, a playwright and poet who graduated from CAPA, is mentored by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee in the May 2 installment. The footage was filmed in 2007 and 2008 by producers and directors Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman.

Read the complete Tribune-Review article.

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Pittsburgh Public Schools ranked in top 10 for large U.S. cities

"Pittsburgh Public Schools is on the move," reports website GreatSchools.com. "A few years ago, the district -- the second-largest in the state, with 26,000 students in 66 schools -- made a commitment to improve its faltering performance, and the steady improvements in rankings and test scores are proof that its efforts are taking hold."

Thanks to is rising AYP scores and improving student performance, Pittsburgh made GreatSchools.com's rankings for the best public schools for places with populations above 300,000.

Read the complete GreatSchools.com article.

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Sparked by Mister Rogers: Technology fostering new generation of creative kids

The latest episode of WQED's OnQ shows how Pittsburgh's tech pioneers are using the newest technology to engage and educate children. Featured segments also include the Fred Forward Conference, which carries on the legacy of Fred Rogers.

View the complete OnQ episode.

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Under leadership of Saleem Ghubril, Pittsburgh Promise gains national attention

"Saleem Ghubril is relishing an early hint of success in his second year heading a college scholarship program that's attracting national attention," reports Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Because of the Pittsburgh Promise, 22 more black male graduates went to college in 2009 than the year before--113 compared with 91.

Ghubril contemplates, "At the end of the day, 'failure' for the Pittsburgh Promise will be, 10 years will have passed, and 15,000 kids will have gone to college. So if the worst thing we can do is send 15,000 kids to college, I can live with that."

Read the complete Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article.

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UPMC, University of Pittsburgh are leaders in regenerative medicine

A recent 60 Minutes story on regenerative medicine highlights progress in the field, and turns to Pittsburgh leaders for firsthand accounts of those innovations.

Correspondent Morley Safer interviews Dr. Stephen Badylak, deputy director at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, as well as Dr. Blair Jobe, associate professor of surgery in the Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.

Dr. Badylak explains his work, with a chuckle as, "I make body parts," and describes how a material called Extra Cellular Matrix can regrow virtually every tissue in the body.

In Pittsburgh, regenerative techniques have been used to regrow esophageal lining of 76-year-old cancer patient Erwin Schmidt, and to successfully transplant a hand from a cadaver onto the arm of Marine Josh Maloney, who lost his right hand working with dynamite.

Click here to view the complete 60 Minutes video.

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City tuition tax could discourage students from staying in Pittsburgh

According to a Regional Insights column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Harold Miller, Pittsburgh "plays a unique role in the economy and quality of life of the region." Because of this, Miller writes that "our highest priority should be an aggressive regional effort to create new businesses and jobs" rather than "spending time, energy and money battling over whether students in the city of Pittsburgh should pay taxes on their tuition bills."

"Pittsburgh would be a much smaller city and economically worse off if the students weren't here, and increasing the cost of attending school in the city won't encourage them to stay," he writes.

"The city is proposing a tax on students not because it's a good idea, but because the commonwealth of Pennsylvania has forced the city to try to support public services that benefit a region of more than 2.4 million people with a tax base dependent on 310,000 residents. If we're going to continue to have a region composed of more than 500 small municipalities and a small central city, we need a different way of funding them. The only way to avoid such things as city tuition taxes and county drink taxes is for the governor and Pennsylvania General Assembly to modernize local government tax structures and create revenue-sharing programs that enable regional public services to be supported by everyone who benefits from them."

Click here to read the complete Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column.

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Neighborhood guide: Town and gown come together in Oakland

Erin Marton, a realtor with Howard Hanna, writes on her 'Burgh Living blog, "The 'Burgh is--for all intents and purposes--a bit of a college town. Not in the conventional sense perhaps, but the Forbes and Fifth corridor that is host to Carnegie Mellon University, The University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University and Carlow College certainly make it feel a bit like one!"

The universities that occupy that corridor certainly shape the entire Oakland neighborhood.

Marton describes Oakland as a hub of student living, the heart of UPMC and an eating, shopping and cultural destination, with plenty of green space thanks to Schenley Park and Phipps Conservatory.

Click here to read the complete 'Burgh Living blog post.

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CAPA student percussionist plays for first lady for second time

Jason Yoder, a 16-year-old junior at CAPA, has performed not once, but twice, for first lady Michelle Obama. In September, the percussionist performed with world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma for Obama and the other G-20 delegates' spouses during the summit. And Yoder, a Squirrel Hill resident, performed again by invitation on Wed., Nov 4, Yoder in the White House Music Series' Classical Music Student Workshop Concert.

"It is just truly an honor for Jason and for the school and for our district. We tell our students all the time that the arts will take them anywhere, and this is especially true for Jason," CAPA principal Melissa Pearlman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Click here to read the complete Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on Jason Yoder.

Pitt alumni celebrate sit-in that led to strides toward diversity

The New Pittsburgh Courier did a piece on the University of Pittsburgh's African American Alumni Council (AAAC) celebrating the 40th anniversary of a sit-in that led to progress at the university.

On Jan. 15, 1969, about 50 students "took over the university's computer center… [and] called for an increase in Black faculty, enrollment and overall representation, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Department of Black Studies later that year."

The article continues, "Today, the university has 13,000 African-American alumni and at the opening of the homecoming celebration, the AAAC announced a $3 million financial aid campaign to support diversity students."

The action of those students 40 years ago is credited as the driving force behind the eventual creation of programs such as the University Community Education Project and the School of Engineering IMPACT Program, which helps Black students pursue opportunities in the sciences.

Click here to read the complete New Pittsburgh Courier article on the sit-in.

Pitt's 92.1 WPTS in running for mtvU Best College Radio Station title

After months of voting and several rounds of narrowing down, the University of Pittsburgh's radio station, 92.1 WPTS, has made it into the top 5 for mtvU's Best College Radio Station in the country. Voting for the 2009 mtvU Woodie Awards continues through Nov. 9, and the winner will be announced Nov. 18.

Other stations in the running include those at Ball State University, California State University: San Bernardino, University of Missouri and University of Puget Sound.

Vote here for WPTS.

Pittsburgh is second-best metro area in U.S. to launch small business

CNNMoney.com has ranked Pittsburgh as No. 2 among large metro areas for launching a small business. No. 1 is Oklahoma City, OK.

Pittsburgh is reported to have more than 57,000 small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 50 employees.

"The region combines [its] talent pool with a mix of highly educated students from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University. Those institutions helped make Pittsburgh a leader in robotics, healthcare, and artificial intelligence," the article states.

Click here to read the complete CNNMoney.com article.

Pittsburgh Promise scholarship fund slows city school enrollment loss

Launched in 2007, Pittsburgh Promise is already impacting enrollment decline in city schools.

The $250 million college scholarship fund is meant to improve Pittsburgh's schools and stem student exodus. Scholarships for up to $5,000 to any Pennsylvania college are available to students who spend at least four years in the city's public or charter schools, and maintain a 2.5 GPA and 90-percent attendance. In March, Pittsburgh Promise increased the number of eligible schools from about 100 to about 240. In 2012, the scholarship amount available will increase to $10,000 for students who spend all 12 years in the Pittsburgh school system.

To read the complete article in the New York Times go here, in the Washington Post go here and in the Philadelphia Inquirer go here.

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6 Pittsburgh-area high schools make Newsweek list

A recent Newsweek magazine survey ranks six Allegheny County high schools among the 1,500 top U.S. public high schools.

The schools, which are in the top 6 percent of public schools nationwide, and their ranks are: Pine-Richland, 814; Upper St. Clair, 917; Quaker Valley, 1,163; Mt. Lebanon, 1,181; North Hills, 1,317; and North Allegheny, 1,326.

Schools are ranked according to a ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2008 divided by the number of graduating seniors.

Go here to view the complete list.

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