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Race to Top's Other 'Finalists'

The Sweet Sixteen—15 states and the District of Columbia —are the obvious winners in moving one step closer to claiming a piece of the $4 billion Race to the Top prize.

But there are behind-the-scenes victors in this big elimination round, too. Let's call them the Shadow Finalists.

One of the biggies is the Boston-based Mass Insight Education and Research Institute. All six states that Mass Insight has partnered with to use its strategies for turning around low-performing schools are finalists. Is that coincidence? Or was that a feature of each state's application that stood out to the Race to the Top reviewers? Either way, it's good news for Mass Insight.

Another is the Gates Foundation. Fourteen of the 16 actual finalists had $250,000 in Gates dough to help polish their applications. And then there are the four consulting firms—McKinsey and Co., among them—that Gates required the applicants to use. It wasn't a perfect victory for Gates, though. Several states that had an assistance grant from the foundation didn't make it to the final round, and two states that it turned down for help—Delaware and South Carolina—did.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, cast the finalist status of the District of Columbia as an endorsement of Chancellor Michelle Rhee's controversial, hard-charging agenda for the public schools in the nation's capital.

No doubt there are dozens of other unnamed, or little-known beneficiaries of yesterday's finalists announcement. If you know who they are, email me at [email protected] or leave a comment.

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