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Bipartisan Love for Race to Top in Tennessee

In less than 24 hours, we should finally know which states will land those coveted finalist spots in Round One of the $4 billion Race to the Top contest.

While we wait for the big news, I've been combing again through the applications of those states that most folks agree are likely finalists. And while reviewing Tennessee's application again, I came across a tidbit that I'd missed before: a statement of support from all seven declared candidates for governor, three of them Democrats, four of them Republicans. (See page A-34 for the text of the letter.)

That's a savvy move, Tennessee.

Gov. Phil Bredesen, who has been the lead shepherd of the state's application, will leave office early next year because of term limits. And as the gubernatorial candidates point out in their short letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, keeping large-scale school reforms going is tough enough even if governors never changed or turnover didn't happen in legislatures.

The candidates pledge, if Tennessee prevails in winning a grant, to "continue to focus on education and work tirelessly" to follow through on the Race to the Top reforms.

Now I wonder, did other states where there could be a change in governors think to do the same? After all, there are 37 gubernatorial races this year, with many of the incumbents either leaving because of term limits or opting not to run again.

Given all the big dough at stake, I'd think the competition's overlords at the education department would look quite favorably on any guarantees that winning states can make good on their end of the deal.


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