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After falling short in the first round of "Race to the Top" federal education funds competition, the Golden State will employ a different approach in hopes of cashing in on the second round of stimulus dollars.

The Legislature approved a series of changes to the state education system with the goal of becoming eligible for up to $700 million in the first round of funding, but California failed to take home a piece of the $4.35 billion doled out by the Obama administration.

California was ranked 27th out of the 41 states that sought funding in round one, with reviewers at the Department of Education delivering a tough report on the strength of the application. As California Watch reported, one of the shortcomings cited in the reviews was a lack of commitment from schools and teachers unions to support the changes.

After the harsh assessment of its first attempt at the cash, some education leaders seemed to indicate California might step back in round two. But today leaders renewed their commitment to competing for the funds.

"After careful review and consideration, California will apply for phase two of the competitive Recovery Act program Race to the Top," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for statewide education reforms that guarantee that we put our students' needs first, support effective teachers and ensure that all students have equal access to a quality education."

This time a working group of superintendents will lead the application development efforts in hopes that California gets enough local agencies and groups on board to snag a piece of the money up for grabs in round two.

The application is due June 1.


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