Water, water everywhere (Instagram by @tio_lroh_photos)

Philadelphia teachers decry district’s $70M curriculum spend

The Philly School District is spending $70 million on a new curriculum some teachers fear isn’t just a waste of time and money, but will be detrimental to learning. What’s wrong with the new materials? They assume all students are at grade level (they’re not, scores back up teachers on this one) and reportedly come with “scripted” lessons that don’t allow for much customization. 

“I think they really intended for it to be the same access for everyone on paper —  and it sounds good on paper,” one teacher told Billy Penn. “But I think you’re going to see the gap widen even more.” 

School District of Philadelphia headquarters at 440 N. Broad St. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

‘Lifting Voices’ celebrates Philly’s rich gospel history

Philadelphia is a city steeped in music, and over the years, many gospel giants have called it home. Charles Albert Tindley, for example, known as the “Grandfather of Gospel.” Marian Anderson, Clara Ward, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. And a brand new contest called “Lifting Voices in Praise” celebrates this rich history. Loosely based on traditional gospel competitions, it’s open to all forms of spiritual music, Jordan Levy reports — and submissions are due this Friday.

Gospel singer Trina Ferge at the 2023 Gospel on Independence showcase, part of the Wawa Welcome America festival. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

RECAP: What else happened?

$ = paywalled

• A proposal to create a Pa. private school voucher program is being fast-tracked by Republican legislators now that Democratic Gov. Shapiro split from education unions and expressed his support for the bill. Critics say the move would devastate public schools by diverting limited funds. [Chalkbeat]

• DA Krasner, calling it “every parent’s nightmare,” announced 233 new charges of child sex abuse against a former Philly police officer, now being held without bail. The assaults are thought to have happened at the now-closed Meehan Middle School in Mayfair. [WHYY] 

• RFK Jr. has pulled out of the Moms for Liberty conference, citing a schedule change. The summit is likely to spur protest; teachers called on the Museum of American Revolution to cancel the M4L event it’s hosting. [Wash Examiner/Billy Penn]

• Here’s a new timelapse of the I-95 rebuild, showing the construction of the foam glass patch from the ground up. [YouTube/Billy Penn]

• A Philly native will replace Tucker Carlson at Fox News’s primetime spot. Jesse Watters, a Penn Charter grad, has been at the network two decades. He’s urged audiences to “ambush” Fauci and suggested Fetterman wanted to “castrate” young schoolchildren. [PhillyVoice]

• Another, very different new on-screen role for a Philadelphian: David Corenswet, born and raised in the city, has been tapped to play Superman in the next DC Studios movie. [Yahoo]

• Think the Phillies have been disappointing? At least we’re not the Mets, who have one of the biggest payrolls in baseball but are way back in the wild card race. [Billy Penn]

• Philly has fewer diners than it used to (RIP Little Pete’s), but there are still quite a few around the city, as this handy map shows. [Eater]

Weekly brief on gun violence prevention (with PCGVR)

We publish this report each week in partnership with the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting• Already working to surmount crumbling facilities, a lack of support staff, and little to no extracurriculars, Philly teachers say the city’s shooting epidemic makes learning even harder. [Capital-Star]

• City Council is considering proposals to reform Philadelphia’s violent and traumatic eviction lockout process, which is getting attention after a deputy landlord-tenant officer shot a woman in the head this spring. [WHYY x 2]

• A lot of city gun violence comes from retaliatory shootings between neighborhood groups, and testimony from a recent trial convicting the shooters of a 15-year-old gives some insight into how that becomes a way of life for young Philadelphians. [Inquirer$]

• PCGVR marks its third anniversary this weekend. Here’s a recap of milestones, including the org’s first published academic study (showing episodic news reporting can be harmful) and its first community-journalist all day workshop. [PCGVR/Billy Penn]

By the numbers in Philadelphia

  • 49: Shooting victims recorded last week, vs. 49 the week prior. [City Controller via @PCGVR]
  • 898: Shooting victims this year so far, down 20% vs. this time last year. [PCGVR]
  • 210: Year-to-date homicides, down 16% vs. last year’s pace; up 45% vs. five years ago [Philly Police]


It’s Wawa Hoagie Day, and Mayor Kenney joins the crowds at the Constitution Center to help give away thousands of free sandwiches (12 p.m.). (Stay tuned for our report from hoagie central tomorrow.)

Kenney has two evening engagements: he first joins adult learners at CCP for a GED graduation ceremony (6 p.m.), then heads to Broad and South, where a portion of the Avenue of the Arts is being renamed for Philly legend Jerry Blavat (7 p.m.).


❤️ This is the final week of “Gone & For Ever,” a multidisciplinary memorial to Philadelphians and the HIV/AIDS crisis. Kensington’s Clay Studio presents monumental urns and a movie of the procession by artist Alex Stadler. (Now through Monday, July 3) 

👟 Put on comfy shoes for the Welcome America Avenue of the Arts Block Party along a South Broad Street filled with music, food, dancing, and live performances. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 1)