The Obama administration on Nov. 12 is opening its competition for states to receive $5 billion in ‘Race to the Top' education funding, but states have been jockeying for the new stimulus money even before the contest begins.

The grants will fund ideas that advance the administration's education reform goals, such as easing the rules for charter schools or judging teachers based on student test scores. Applications are due in January, and the first round of grants will go out in April.

Fewer than half the states are likely to win the money,...

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