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"No surprises" in New York's second Race to the Top pitch

All that’s left is the waiting.

Federal officials could announce the winners of the second round of the Race to the Top grant competition as soon as next week. But before they do, teams from each finalist state, including New York, went to Washington, D.C. last week to make their case for a slice of the $3.4 billion in grant funds that remain to be doled out.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said yesterday that “no surprises” came from the judges during the state’s 90-minute presentation and question-and-answer session Aug. 10. Tisch said the reviewers focused on the meat of the state’s school reform plan, including the timeline for a new teacher evaluation system, the curriculum being developed for new national standards, and school turnaround strategies.

“I just thought it was a very fair, frank conversation,” she said.

Accompanying Tisch in D.C. were State Education Commissioner David Steiner and Deputy Commissioner John King, as well as Chancellor Joel Klein and teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew.

Tisch recruited Klein and Mulgrew for the second round to avert the troubles of the state’s first-round presentation, when judges focused on whether the state would be able to fulfill its promises without more union support. New York was one of three finalists to lose points after the interview round.

Tisch said the judges were “very interested” in Klein and Mulgrew’s attendance last week. Many of the state’s proposals are based on spreading Klein’s city reforms state-wide, and Mulgrew likely vouched for union support of the plan.

Klein said he thought the judges asked questions that were “thoughtfully related” to the state’s application. “The team worked together well,” he said about New York’s delegation.

The winners of the second round of the grant competition will be announced in late August or early September. As they did in the first round, federal officials will post a video of all finalist states’ presentations after the winners have been announced.

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