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Florida Loses Out On "Race To the Top" Dollars

By Lynn Hatter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-893326.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – The U.S. Department of Education has announced the winners of its $4.35-billion education grant called "Race to the Top," and Florida isn't one of them.

The news is a blow to many state education officials. Florida had been considered a heavy favorite to win. But at least one group isn't surprised. The Florida Education Association says the decision from Washington should encourage the state to sit down with the people who would be affected most by policies the grant encourages -- teachers.

FEA spokesman Mark Pudlow said, "It's one thing to say we want to do something and get everyone to buy into it, and it's another to say this is what we want to do, do it. Florida has taken the second approach. We believe the first approach is much more successful, and now we have an opportunity to do it."

The union refused to sign off on Florida's proposal, and that lack of support has been cited as one possible reason for Florida not having its billion-dollar application approved, though no official reason has been given.

The state can try again for the money on Phase 2 of Race to the Top. The application is due June 1st.