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Final leg in Race to the Top, California makes case for federal education money

Tuesday, state officials will travel to Washington D.C. to make their case that California should be selected from 18 other finalists for its share of $4.35 billion in federal education funds. This marks the second round of competition for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s controversial plan known as Race to the Top, which offers states incentive to reform their public education systems for a chance to compete for federal money. Critics say Duncan’s agenda pushes untested methods, such as lifting a cap on charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to student performance, and does little to address long-standing inequities in public education. Education experts also point out there could be backlash from states that take significant political risks to reform, only to be eliminated in a final round. California wasn’t named as finalist in the first round of competition, which awarded grants only to Tennessee and Delaware. But this time around, California’s application effort was led by local superintendents, such as Los Angeles Unified School District’s Ramon Cortines and Long Beach Unified School District’s Christopher Steinhauser, who’ll both make their case in D.C. tomorrow. What’s different about California’s chances this time around? David looks at California’s chances and what stakeholders are saying on all sides of the debate.