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California didn't make the cut for taking home cash in the first round of the Race to the Top competition for federal stimulus funds for education.

Lawmakers approved late last year a series of changes to the state's education system with the goal of ensuring California schools would qualify for a piece of $4.35 billion in competitive grants being doled out by the Obama administration.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other advocates of the reforms had estimated the state could win up to $700 million in the competition. But California's application was not one of 16 that made it to the final round of the competition.

Schwarzenegger pledged to push for additional changes to make California more competitive for the second round of funding applications, which are due June 1.

"This decision by the Obama Administration demonstrates that we need to be more aggressive and bolder in reforming our education system," he said in a statement. "While the reforms we passed did move our state forward, they did not go far enough because other states were more competitive."

Read the letter from Education Secretary Arne Duncan here.

See a list of the finalists after the jump. Winners will be announced in early April.

The phase one finalists are:

  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee


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