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Race to Top's Losers: What to Do Next?

State EdWatch is returning after several days off, so to get myself caught up, I went looking for local stories about the losing states in round one of Race to the Top and what sort of reflection and cost-benefit analysis they are doing as they decide whether to bother with round two. The June 1 deadline is already fast approaching.

California is sounding awfully ambivalent at this point. And it probably doesn't help matters that Rick Miller, a top deputy in the state department of education and an important player in crafting the state's round one application, recently left his post.

In Colorado, where political and education leaders were among the most enthusiastic pursuers of the Race to the Top prize in round one, officials were to meet today to figure out what to do next. But in remarks to the New York Times yesterday, Gov. Bill Ritter sounded pretty jaded.

Florida is in, but needs its lawmakers to approve a bill to make linking teacher evaluation and compensation to student achievement a statewide law and other teacher policy reforms in order to score better for round two, says Eric Smith, the state's schools' chief. Illinois, which finished 5th overall in round one, will come back for a second go-round.

Minnesota, which finished in 20th place out of 41 applicants in round one, was due to kick off an effort today to bring the state department of education and the statewide teachers' union to the table to discuss how to write a strong application with broader support.

In Connecticut, state officials are back to the drawing board to work on their round two application. They are doing this even though state commissioner Mark McQuillan has been publicly skeptical about the federal grant competition. The state has a very active reform group&mdash ConnCAN&mdash that is pushing for an aggressive bid in round two.

And it appears that Ohio will rework its bid for round two, with Gov. Ted Strickland putting the onus on school districts that decline to participate to explain to constituents why they are turning down an opportunity to win federal money for schools.

UPDATE: This news release puts to rest any questions about Colorado's intentions for round two. They are definitely in.

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