Tuition isn’t free, and neither is emotional labor — A conversation with Pitt’s departing Black Action Society president.

Meet Morgan Ottley as she unpacks the lessons and challenges of remotely completing her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh following 2020’s summer of racial reckoning and protests. Morgan discusses the emotional, often invisible labor left to students when universities fall short of solidarity and the future of racial justice and accountability on college campuses. For more insights on the effects of the racial justice movement on higher ed from students, faculty, staff and administrations of Pittsburgh-area universities, check out the accompanying stories to this podcast by PublicSource higher education reporter Naomi Harris. What difference has a year made? Explore the project about calls for racial justice on campuses.

students sitting on a classroom floor doing classwork

At this pivotal moment in education, a challenge to balance new practices with past wisdom

A few weeks ago, a group of students in New Brighton sat down to take a spelling test. Their district has spent the past year seeking out the best ways to use new technology. And yet by choice, this spelling test was given with neatly sharpened pencils and crisp sheets of paper. These kids were working on the core skill of handwriting, says New Brighton Area School District superintendent Dr. Joseph Guarino. And they were reinforcing their knowledge of spelling words through a physical experience that’s long been known to help with learning.

two children building crafts wearing pink sweaters

‘All we are asking for is change!’ How schools are taking steps toward justice-centered learning.

The two Brownsville students knew things needed to change. February was arriving yet again, and their school had no real plan to acknowledge Black History Month. After more than three years of high school, these two seniors had been taught little about Black history and nothing about Black excellence. What they had learned was laid out in the broadest and quickest of strokes. They agreed: An occasional, brief mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t enough for them — or for the other Black students at their school.

Crayons beside child coloring.

‘The strongest lifeline’: Districts struggle to find Allegheny County’s homeless students as COVID increased distance and needs

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These days, Christina Russell and her daughter, Mareica Anderson, are busy unpacking their new home. It’s a brighter time for the duo, who faced housing insecurity living in Pittsburgh during the fall months of 2020 amid the COVID pandemic. “We had to go from a house to a shelter to a shelter to another shelter, you know what I mean, until we found our place where she was comfortable,” said Russell, 41. When school began in the fall, Russell did everything she could to keep her daughter engaged and feeling a sense of normalcy despite changing living environments. “Well, I didn't really let it affect her,” Russell said.