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Kenney’s first 1,000 days, Pa. special education costs on the rise | Morning Newsletter

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Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney speaks at a press conference for the WWF Royal Rumble in the Mayors Reception, Philadelphia City Hall on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney speaks at a press conference for the WWF Royal Rumble in the Mayors Reception, Philadelphia City Hall on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.Read moreJAMES BLOCKER / Staff Photographer

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

What could you accomplish in 1,000 days? The possibilities seem endless, especially when they're really campaign promises. That's why my colleagues put Mayor Kenney's new report on his first 1,000 days in office under a microscope to give you a bird's eye view of the administration so far this morning. Today I'm also really excited to share with you my colleagues' new midterm election project: a text message alert system to keep you informed through Nov. 6. You're going to want to try it out.

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— Aubrey Nagle (@aubsn,

When Mayor Kenney won the Democratic primary and was elected mayor over three years ago, he did so on a slew of progressive promises. To mark his 1,000th day in office, Sept. 30, he released a progress report on what’s he’s accomplished so far.

So, naturally, my colleagues took to it with a fine-tooth comb to determine what he's actually gotten done, from the status of city schools to dealing with the opioid crisis.

Local control of the Philadelphia School District and improved property assessments? Check. Ending stop-and-frisk and building 30 miles of bike lanes? Not so much.

A new report released Tuesday has concerning news for local schools: increases in special-education costs in Pennsylvania are far outpacing increases in the state’s contributions to those expenses.

State aid for special education increased by $71 million between 2008 and 2016. District special-education costs, on the other hand, grew by $1.54 billion during that time. So, local school districts are left picking up more of the tab.

Of course, this isn't the state's only problem with school funding. An ongoing lawsuit alleges the way Pennsylvania pays for public education discriminates against children in poorer communities.

The midterm elections are just weeks away and, to prepare, we asked Inquirer readers what they most wanted to know before they head into the voting booth. You told us you’d like to know more about some of the key policy issues at play.

So, we're trying something new. Starting Oct. 15, my colleague Jonathan Lai will be sending out daily text alerts on the issues simple, daily messages that break down what's at stake, highlight some key races, and answer your questions.

Want to try it out? Text the word "ELECTION" to 215-544-3038 to sign up, or enter your phone number here. (Don't worry, you can unsubscribe any time.)

What you need to know today

  1. Nikki Haley abruptly announced Tuesday she will resign from her position as President Trump's ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year. Trump said he'll name a successor in the next few weeks.

  2. Hurricane Michael is set to make landfall today along the northeastern Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm. Depending on how the storm develops, it could affect the weather in our region, too.

  3. South Jersey Democratic power broker George E. Norcross III was scrutinized by federal investigators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2016, records show. They even tapped his phones, though no charges emerged.

  4. Land prices in Philadelphia have plummeted to their lowest levels in three years — an indication that the city's development boom is losing steam.

  5. A grim trend has hit the Pennsylvania prison system: while the suicide rate in the state has increased 22 percent from 2008 to 2017, in prisons the rate has grown by 103 percent.

  6. The Kenney administration is set to release a new report on Philadelphia's housing market today. Architecture critic Inga Saffron writes it focuses on keeping Philly a middle-class city.

  7. A recent memo from the Chester County district attorney criticizing the actions of state troopers during a police-involved shooting revealed he maintains a "do not use" list of problem cops — and now the state police union is suing.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Street art is a pretty nice pick-me-up, @jbarmash.

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

  1. After making the rounds on social media and late-night TV, Gritty, the Flyers' highly ridiculed yet much-beloved new mascot, made his official debut at the Wells Fargo Center last night, swinging in from the ceiling à la Miley Cyrus. Too bad the Flyers lost the home opener to the Sharks 8-2.

  2. They say money can't buy happiness, but — depending on what social class you're in — buying material goods or experiences can, according to new research.

  3. How does one suddenly become an Instagram-famous bladesmith, making knives for the social media generation? For one Flemington, N.J. native, it started by moving to Philly.

  4. Fans are quick to offer excuses for the Eagles' losing record, but former linebacker and one-time New Jersey congressional candidate Garry Cobb has a … unique take: too much sex.

  5. Franklin Square's historic fountain was built in 1837 and restored to its current glory in 2006, but apparently, it's not good enough yet. So it's getting a choreographed musical light show.

  6. Attention migraine sufferers: you no longer have to deal with the headache of medications not designed for your medical condition. Two new drugs made for migraines just hit the market.


"The Khashoggi affair is a warning. When the United States abandons its role as defender of the free press, the risk grows to American journalists, and those in other countries."
— Columnist Trudy Rubin on the death of Saudi journalist-in-exile Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul.
  1. The American economy is on the up and up and President Trump deserves the credit, writes John M. Grau, chief executive officer of National Electrical Contractors Association.

  2. At first, prominent Penn professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson didn't believe Russia got Trump elected. What changed her mind, columnist Will Bunch writes, was tracking drops in support for Hillary Clinton after televised debates.

What we’re reading

  1. Having trouble digesting just how drastic changes to the environment will soon be if the globe continues to warm, as the U.N. reported Monday? The New York Times has broken down (with helpful illustrations) the huge difference a half a degree will make in our everyday lives.

  2. The $4 "convenience fee" you might be paying for Philadelphia water is among the highest in the nation. Billy Penn now explains how an Alabama firm made millions off city residents paying water bills online.

  3. If you're in the mood to rant about your commute, this story is for you. took a look at the new NJ Transit audit to figure out what's making the agency such a mess that just getting off of trains is a problem.

  4. Mayor Kenney has talked a great deal about the promises of his $500 million Rebuild initiative, but PlanPhilly's latest makes it all sound a bit too good to be true. 

  5. A little levity for the morning: On Monday night, a mother's anti-#MeToo tweet about her son went viral. His response, as told by The Guardian, gave the meme a surprisingly happy ending.

Your Daily Dose of | Waterfront Views

There’s still work to be done on the Delaware River waterfront’s newest attraction, Cherry Street Pier, but we got a peek inside the former maritime warehouse before it opens next week.