From the Wall Street Journal Online:
The Obama administration picked 15 states and the District of Columbia as finalists in a heated competition for extra federal education funds to shake up underperforming schools....
The states that made the cut in the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition were Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Not allowing student test scores to be tied to teacher evaluations "seemed like a clear no-no under the rules" of the competition, said Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, a group that favors charter schools and stronger teacher evaluation systems. He said the state legislature now had a short window to enact legislation that would correct New York's shortcomings.
Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City school system, the largest in the country, failed to win the legislative changes he sought in January, but cheered the announcement nonetheless. "We're within striking distance,'' he said. He wants the legislature to immediately move to lift the charter cap and change state laws regarding teacher evaluations, firings and seniority. "That's the way to win this,'' he said. "We know that these things are hurting us.''
California, which faces a $20 billion state budget crisis, failed to make the finalist list. The state had hoped to qualify for as much as $700 million at a time when many local school districts are slashing their budgets. California had also tried hard to qualify by doing things such as ramming a bill through the legislature over union objections that allowed teachers' pay to be linked to students' test scores.