All the winners except Delaware and South Carolina got financial help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in preparing their "Race to the Top" application. The foundation gave many states grants of up to $250,000 each to pay for a consultant to help them craft their application.
Federal spending accounts for just 10.5 percent of elementary and secondary education funding. And while the "Race to the Top" money is a small slice of the $100 billion in stimulus education funding, observers said it is significant.
In Wisconsin, one of the states that applied but was not named a finalist, Gov. Jim Doyle called the announcement "a wake up call to many" and urged legislators to push for reform.