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Race to the Top Round 2 Finalists Named
posted by: Colin | July 27, 2010, 08:33 PM   

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today the eighteen states plus D.C. who have a chance to compete for the final round of the Race to the Top funding program. $3.4 billion is still up for grabs after Delaware and Tennessee received $600 million in round one.

Phase 2 finalists: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.

The 19 finalists will send a delegation to Washington for the interview portion of the process to try and increase their chances of the money. All of the finalists from the first round are finalists in the second round, plus five states who didn't qualify or apply in the first round. The only real surprise today was dark horse and 40th-place-first-round-finish Arizona increasing their application score by 66%.

Duncan has already said he plans to have ten to fifteen winners in round two. As Michele McNiel at EdWeek's Politics K-12 blog notes, if three of those winners are New York, Florida, and California, they could collect up to $2.1 billion of the remaining funds—not leaving much for the other expected winners.

In his remarks, Duncan said:

I urge union leaders, administrators and schools boards all across America to follow the example of their reform-minded colleagues and have a more open mind toward common-sense reforms. They have nothing to fear from charters or incentive pay or a better system of teacher evaluation. The only real threat to them -- and to all of us -- is academic failure.

I also challenge reformers to stop blaming unions for all the problems in American education. If unions were the only problem -- all of our right-to-work states and charter schools would be outperforming the nation -- which is not the case. That's the old frame. In the new frame, people are working together.

It won't be long before a newspaper editorial board in each non-finalist state contributes their theory as to why their state did not make the cut. The story out of Nebraska already was that their lack of a charter mechanism doomed them. However Michigan, who lost in the first round for lacking union support, doesn't have an explanation yet for why it lost again despite having picked up broad support from unions and school boards.

Stay tuned to this blog for more coverage and analysis.

What is your reaction to Secretary Duncan's comments above about unions and reformers?
Comment below.

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