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(Atlanta Journal Constitution) — Georgia has been awarded $400 million to invest in education reforms at the state level and in five metro districts and 21 others, having landed a spot in the winner’s circle in President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top competition.

Eight other states and the District of Columbia were picked Tuesday to share with Georgia in $3.4 billion that the Obama administration plans to distribute over four years.

This was Georgia’s second bid for funding through Race to the Top, a program designed to reward ambitious changes to improve schools and close the achievement gap. It hasn’t been without controversy. The program has drawn criticism along the way from politicians who worry about more federal involvement in the state’s education system; and teacher groups who felt left out of the application process.

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