Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Rural Education in PA / Mariner East 2 Shutdown

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Jan 9, 2018 8:00 PM
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Titusville High School seniors scream during a spirit game at the homecoming pep rally (Kevin McCorry/Keystone Crossroads)

On the Wednesday January 10th, 2018 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

Some of Pennsylvania's rural communities are grappling with stagnant economies and declining industrial jobs, a steady drain of younger people and chronic addiction.  Many of these issues seep into their schools adversely affecting the educational development of Pennsylvania's youth.

The current crisis of opioid addiction is having devastating consequences in the Commonwealth's rural classrooms. Teachers and students are discussing the loss of classmates to overdoses.  Children are losing parents to addiction and incarceration while the stresses of being moved around by family members and welfare agencies create disruptions in both the student's education and behavior.

The same issues are readily apparent in urban schools with districts channeling hundreds of millions of dollars into schools, they tend to slip off the radar in rural settings, away from the intense media coverage seen in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

Keystone Crossroads reporter Kevin McCorry travelled throughout rural Pennsylvania to learn about the students, educators and families that struggle to provide a promising education for their children despite numerous obstacles.  McCorry joins us on Wednesday's Smart Talk to share stories he heard and some of the solutions for turning around educational opportunities in our state.

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WHYY Keystone Crossroads reporter Kevin McCorry

Also, last week the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection suspended all construction on Sunoco's Mariner East 2 pipeline, saying it has violated the conditions of two kinds of permits.  In particular, the 2.5 billion dollar, 350 mile pipeline has been plagued by mud spills and well water contaminations.  The pipeline will carry natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio to an export terminal near Philadelphia.

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WHYY State Impact Pennsylvania reporter Susan Phillips

State Impact Pennsylvania reporter Susan Phillips
is on Smart Talk to discuss the latest iteration of the Mariner East saga, efforts to resume building and reactions from the community.


- I am a parent of two children and the wife of a teacher in Greencastle-Antrim school district. We are in the midst of a stalemate in which our teachers have been working without a contract since August.

Our district has grown rapidly and has a very good reputation. People move here for the schools. We already have a very small per student cost in running the district.

Hold Harmless has put us way behind in funding. We are struggling and trying to figure out how to keep our standards up and financially afloat.

We are one of very few districts who have a deficit in funding from Hold Harmless. Thus, our concerns fall on deaf ears. We are in desperate need of help.

Thank you for reporting on the districts and their specific needs.

Respectfully,  Mary T.      Greencastle, PA

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