Yesterday turned out to be a big day in national politics. Not only did the Democrats running for president have their fifth debate last night, but the impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill included testimony that was the first to directly tie President Donald Trump to the Ukraine pressure campaign.

Locally, we have two major stories involving Philly schools and educators following the news earlier this week about the School District’s plans to combat asbestos in its school buildings. One is directly related, as we profile a 28-year veteran of Philly schools who was recently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos. Also, Pennsylvania will be testing a new program in Philly to diversify the state’s pool of teachers.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

This Philly teacher taught in toxic schools for 28 years. Now, she has cancer.

When Lea DiRusso would walk into her classroom on Monday mornings, she’d often see dust on her desk or on the ground. DiRusso would work to brighten Classroom 206.5, hanging artwork between two old heating pipes and sweeping up the dust.

It turns out that the 28-year veteran of the Philadelphia School District was put at greater risk of inhaling cancer-causing asbestos fibers, according to medical experts. Her classroom in the 90-year-old Meredith Elementary had a history of damaged and unrepaired asbestos pipe insulation, records show. In late August, DiRusso was told she had mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos.

Philly and Pennsylvania plan to recruit more teachers of color. Here’s how.

Not only has Pennsylvania’s teaching pool shrunk, but 96% of the educator force is white. It’s the least diverse in the United States, according to state education officials.

A new program to help increase diversity will be the first of its kind in the nation, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said Wednesday. A pilot program will begin when the Philadelphia School District identifies a group of high school seniors with good grades who want to enter the education field. They’ll get after-school guidance, gain teaching experience in the summer, and enroll in education schools next fall.

A boy who was wounded during the shooting at a local high school football game has died

Micah Tennant was a fifth grader at Atlantic City’s Uptown School Complex. The news of his death came just hours before the resumption of the New Jersey high school playoff game between Pleasantville and Camden High Schools. Camden won the game, which was finished at Lincoln Financial Field.

“He’s a good, loving, young boy, full of life, just a happy-go-lucky kid,” his uncle said. “Just a happy child. It’s beyond comprehension.”

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Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

I love how this image contrasts the unpredictable textures of the pavement with the clean architecture of the Merchants’ Exchange Building. Great shot, @shaynemalcolm.

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“Parents are right to be concerned about the toxic dangers in the city’s aging school buildings and the School District’s response, which has often been too slow and not straightforward in communicating to parents a realistic picture of how the district is fixing the dangers of asbestos in schools.” — The Inquirer Editorial Board writes that action on Philly’s toxic schools needs to include more city and state leaders.

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Your Daily Dose of | The UpSide

Inquirer writer David Gambacorta explains how a “bad old movie” could tie together his childhood and that of his almost-16-year-old son.