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.

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.

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.

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.”

What you need to know today

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.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

That’s interesting

Opinions

“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.

What we’re reading

Your Daily Dose of | The UpSide

"Mystery Science Theater 3000" was a cult cable series that featured a human and two robots ridiculing bad films. The series, which ended in 1999, is being celebrated with a four-disc boxed set.
"Mystery Science Theater 3000" was a cult cable series that featured a human and two robots ridiculing bad films. The series, which ended in 1999, is being celebrated with a four-disc boxed set.

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