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Which local schools need safer football helmets, city grad rates rise, Pa. gerrymandering case fast-tracked | Morning Newsletter

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Jared Troyano of Pennsbury before their game against Neshaminy on Oct. 27, 2017.
Jared Troyano of Pennsbury before their game against Neshaminy on Oct. 27, 2017.Read moreCharles Fox

If you think it's cold this AM, just wait until tonight: we're probably getting our first official freeze. Better take in the plants— if yours made it this far, that is.

If you like what you're reading, it's free to sign up to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and feedback, so please email me, tweet me @aubsn, or reach our social team on Facebook.

— Aubrey Nagle

» READ MORE: Helmet check: is your local football team playing it safe?

The football helmet industry has seen major changes in the past few years. Manufacturers are using better technology but under higher scrutiny as parents reconsider the sport's long term health effects, including the lasting impact of concussions.

Our investigative team's new report on which local high schools have the right helmets is a must-read for parents, players, and fans. (And I'm not just saying that because it features my alma mater — go Falcons!)

The team surveyed 28 public schools in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey. While many had high-rated helmets on hand, a nagging number of low-rated ones remain, putting players at risk for brain-injury — and of the schools surveyed who had no top-rated helmets, all were from Philly. Compare schools with our interactive inventory chart and find out what it takes to make a safe helmet.

» READ MORE: Pa. gerrymandering case could have national implications

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to decide a gerrymandering lawsuit by the end of the year. That means the state's congressional maps could be redrawn before the next elections.

Pennsylvania is notoriously one of the nation's most gerrymandered states. (Some of the shapes even defy funny descriptive names.) New districts could help out Democrats as they face off in typically red suburban districts, just as they push for control of the U.S. House.

After this week's elections, the political world is already turning its attention to 2018. Key fights for House and Senate seats in our area make Pennsylvania and New Jersey battlegrounds in the year ahead. Get ready for plenty of campaign ads, folks.

» READ MORE: City graduation rates rise for third straight year

Mayor Kenney announced yesterday that the Philadelphia School District's high school graduation rate has risen for the third year in a row, to 67 percent. It's an increase of one percentage point. That may not sound like a lot, but considering the class of 2017 witnessed dozens of school closings, thousands of layoffs, and program cuts, it's an achievement. ("We're sorry about that," Kenney said yesterday.)

And as Kenney keeps repeating, more progress is on the way as he takes back control of the city's schools.

For some, graduation means heading off to college and this year, we've been following a group of first-generation college students through their freshman year at Penn. The latest installment comes from a student who won't let his first-gen status define him.

What you need to know today

  1. Parking tickets of cars from the past may come back to haunt you: the Philadelphia Parking Authority is clamping down on old infractions. Happy Friday.

  2. A woman has accused GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of initiating a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and he was 32. Prominent Republicans have already told him to abandon the Senate race if the allegations are true.

  3. It doesn't appear Hollywood's reckoning with abuse will end any time soon. Five women have come forward to the New York Times accusing comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct, following years of rumors.

  4. A public memorial service will be held for former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay Tuesday at Spectrum Field, the Phillies' spring home in Clearwater, Fla.

  5. If you're thinking about breastfeeding, this may help you decide: a new study says breastfeeding a baby —even in combination with formula — can cut risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in half.

  6. Looks like Philly has some friends in Colorado. Fort Collins voted to let the city build its own high-speed internet network, which everyone's favorite internet provider, Comcast, paid lots of money to fight.

  7. Congress might kill the Historic Tax Credit, which helped revive valuable buildings like The Divine Lorraine. The move would accelerate the destruction of local diamonds in the rough, Architecture Critic Inga Saffron writes.

» READ MORE: #OurPhilly

We want to see what our community looks like through your eyes. Show us the park that your family walks through every weekend with the dog, the block party in your neighborhood or the historic stretch you see every morning on your commute to work.

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 to build those followers!

That’s Interesting

  1. If you're feeling withdrawal ahead of this week's Birds bye, you can fill the void with an Eagles Super Bowl tattoo. This very confident guy did it in 2016 and has no regrets.

  2. Or, as perhaps a more reasonable substitute, keep an eye on this weekend's Rutgers vs. Penn State game Saturday at noon.

  3. Lace up your skates: Dilworth Park's Wintergarden re-opens for the season today. Hot cocoa (kid-friendly and spiked) is brewing and a brand new light show debuts later this month.

  4. A fancy members-only club (think fitness facilities, coworking spaces, and fine dining) is headed to the new Aramark buildingTop Chef winner Kevin Sbraga will lead the club's five dining concepts.

  5. What happened to the meaning of "blue collar?" Locals agree it stands for hard work and dignity, but some say the moniker's getting a bad rap in Trump's America.

  6. Comcast Xfinity is throwing its hat in the mobile phone ring with an ultra-low-cost service: just $12 a month. Of course there are Pinocchio levels of strings.

  7. Indie pop duo Teagan and Sara, mermaids, and a wing festival come to town this weekend — but only one features a ranch dressing chugging contest. Choose wisely.


"It is also glaringly obvious that until the cost of war is personal for everyone, there will always be a disconnect between those who have skin in the game and those who do not." Iraq War veteran John Bruhns wants everyone to see
— Thank You For Your Service, a film he says bridges this disconnect.
  1. Service dogs may be cute, but the veterans they serve just wish you'd keep your paws off so they can work, write retired Army captain Leslie Nicole Smith and author Dava Guerin.

  2. In honor of Veterans Day, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recognizes a group of Butler County, Pennsylvania veterans for their help maintaining the Vietnam War Memorial in D.C. Last month, they hand-delivered him a $40,000 check for it.

What we’re reading

  1. Philly native Niela Orr dubs Meek Mill "a Rocky Balboa figure for a certain type of young, black Philadelphian" in a personal, complicated look at his sentencing over at Buzzfeed.

  2. You've seen her at Serena Williams' side and in all those Dell commercials. But this in-depth Philly Mag profile on Skai Blue Media founder Rakia Reynolds shows off the PR maven's personal side.

  3. Things I never would have thought to ask: how do NASA engineers mourn the loss of a spacecraft? A wake, some tears, and some prayers, reports the Los Angeles Times.

  4. Wired explains the subtle art and very difficult science of subway surfing, aka not holding on to anything while you ride. (If you regularly pull this off, I, for one, am impressed.)

  5. Voting used to be the cool thing for young people to do … in the 1800s. What happened? This historian's account of the "virgin vote" over at Vox is fascinating.

A Daily Dose of | Oscar Hype

Psst: Word around town is that Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird is this year’s must-see. Tell your friends you just discovered it, I won’t tell.