Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News and Analysis:
Top K-12 Senator Tom Harkin to Retire

Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who sits at the top of the Senate panels that deal with both K-12 spending and policy, isn’t planning to seek re-election in 2014. This is a very big deal: Harkin is arguably the most powerful lawmaker in Congress when it comes to education. He oversees the committee that deals with education policy, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, whose job it is to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, and pretty much any other major bill that deals with schools. Plus, he’s the chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that writes the bills funding all K-12 programs. (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

Ed. Dept. Raises Evidence, Research Ante in Grant Awards
Using the Investing in Innovation program as a building block, the U.S. Department of Education is taking the next formal step to make research and evidence far more important factors as it awards competitive grants. (Education Week) 

D.C. Council member David Catania takes charge of new Education Committee
He introduced a bill last week that calls for parents to be criminally charged when their children reach 20 or more unexcused absences in a year. They would be sentenced to parenting classes or community service at their child’s school — and if they fail to show up, could get five days in jail or a $100 fine. (Washington Post) 

In Surprise, Educator Tied to Cheating Rejects Deal
In an 11th-hour reversal, an educator accused of running a large test-cheating ring in three Southern states rejected a plea deal on Friday and elected to go to trial. (New York Times) 

New York:
Teacher evaluation tiff continues

Batting back at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s arguments that the state’s teacher evaluation plans are an ineffective “fraud” on taxpayers and students, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’ll keep up the fiscal pressure on districts and unions to renew their evaluation agreements. (Times Union) 

Education Dept. to Hear School Closing Complaints

The United States Department of Education is investigating complaints that plans to close or reorganize public schools in Philadelphia, Detroit and Newark discriminate against black and Hispanic students, as well as those with disabilities, a department official confirmed on Monday. (New York Times) 



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