The Obama administration’s signature education initiative has incited tense showdowns in states across the country as unions and state officials feud over strategies to compete for $3.4 billion in federal funding.
The skirmishes come as states jockey for cash under the administration’s Race to the Top program, which seeks to reward states that are pushing to overhaul their education systems.
Applications for the second round are due by June 1, with winners to be chosen in September. Of the 40 states that submitted applications in the first round, only 16 were picked as finalists.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ramped up pressure on the unions last month when he cited the advantage of union cooperation in picking just two states–Delaware and Tennessee–as winners in the competition’s first round. Those states will share $600 million.