The U.S. Department of Education press secretary has announced via Twitter that Florida is a Race to the Top finalist for the second time.
The other finalists are Arizona, Colorado, Washington DC, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
Florida made some key changes to its application since finishing fourth in points in the first round. Those included a new memorandum of understanding that made clear that impasse proceedings would not come if school districts and teacher unions could not agree on the terms of the state's RTTT plans. That in turn let 54 unions sign on, compared to five in the first outing. (Still, 14 or 15 have side agreements with their districts, just in case.)
Ed Secretary Arne Duncan is expected to make some remarks about the latest round later this afternoon. The actual winners will be named in September. If Florida gets an award, it could receive up to $700 million.