Monday July 26, 2010 | 01:50 PM

Michele McNeil of Education Week reports that the finalists in the second round of Race to the Top are to be revealed on Tuesday.

That means Maine education officials and observers will know by the end of tomorrow whether the Pine Tree State has a fighting chance at a piece of the $3.4 billion remaining for states in the Race to the Top fund.

McNeil and others at Education Week have a list of their guesses for 20 finalists. (Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said there will be 10 to 15 award winners.) The list doesn't have Maine making the Ed Week cut.

McNeil reports that the guesses are based on scores from Race to the Top's first round, when 40 states and Washington, D.C., applied for the award funds, and their applications and score cards were posted online. What's not clear is how the guesses accounted for states like Maine that applied in the competition's second round, but not the first.

Nonetheless, Steve Bowen of the Maine Heritage Policy Center is likely not surprised that Maine wouldn't make it onto a list of presumed finalists. Bowen just finished a series of exhaustive blog entries assessing Maine's Race to the Top application, its strengths and its weaknesses. Bowen's verdict is that Maine's application doesn't stack up to the finalists' from Race to the Top's first round.

It's "too weak – too cautious where it needed to be bold, too vague where it needed to be detailed, and too content with jargony platitudes when it needed to present a clear, concise, and convincing case for the state’s reform agenda," he writes. "I just don’t think it is good enough to win."

Maine's Department of Education has pledged in the past that its Race to the Top application lays out a vision that the state will pursue regardless of whether it claims a piece of the Race to the Top pie. If the pundits' predictions are to be realized, it's time state education officials start seeking other funding sources for pursuing that vision -- after cleaning up some typo-ridden writing.

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