Editor’s note: The candidates’ platforms are presented in alphabetical order.

It’s either a 211-page document that details a solid foundation for an education reform agenda. Or it’s a document with a vision that needs to be abandoned or revamped with new policies.

With Maine out of the running for an award in the federal Race to the Top education reform competition, the questions are starting about what becomes of the Pine Tree State’s entry.

State education officials say they plan to charge ahead with reforms outlined in the application — even though Maine came up empty-handed in the competition’s second round, which attracted applications from 35 states and Washington, D.C.

But how far some of the reforms get depends in part on who’s elected governor in November.

Maine’s application proposed what the state Department of Education called a system of “personalized learning” that allows students to pursue high school diplomas by mastering course materials at their own pace.

The document also mentioned plans to expand the Maine Learning Technology Initiative and Jobs for Maine’s Graduates programs.

The technology initiative provides middle school and most high school students with laptops. Jobs for Maine’s Graduates is a nonprofit program in more than 60 schools that targets students at risk of not finishing high school.

“We’re going to continue pushing these various initiatives as we have, and they’re going to expand as they have,” said David Connerty-Marin, a Maine Department of Education spokesman. “Obviously, if we had $75 million extra, we would be able to accelerate that expansion.”

More districts are starting to adopt personalized learning, or standards-based education, on their own, Connerty-Marin noted, and the state was able to carry out a laptop initiative expansion to more than half of high schools a year ago without an influx of funds.

Jobs for Maine’s Graduates President Craig Larrabee said in June the organization is at work soliciting private funds to bankroll programs in more schools.

Parts of Maine’s Race to the Top application are worth pushing forward, said Steve Bowen, who reviewed and blogged about the application for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank.

But “you have the Baldacci administration crafting the reform agenda for the next governor,” he said. “The next step is to pay attention to the governor’s race.”

For independent candidate Eliot Cutler, there’s not much to work with in Maine’s Race to the Top application until the state makes some key policy changes in line with the competition’s reform objectives.

“Until we make real changes and really open the system in Maine to reform and innovation,” he said, “I think we are going to continue to be also-rans — both in terms of competition for Race to the Top funds, but also in the performance of our schools.”

Maine needs to allow charter schools, Cutler said, and the state needs to make a genuine effort to start evaluating teachers based on the achievement of their students.

“We need to give good teachers an opportunity to teach and to innovate and excel,” he said. “We’ve put our good teachers in straitjackets.”

Republican candidate Paul LePage, the only candidate who wouldn’t offer an interview for this article, said in a statement released by his campaign that education policy is best left up to local school boards.

“The Race to the Top funding is not about educating kids, it is about the federal government running the education system,” the statement said. “We need to be careful about accepting federal money with strings attached.”

Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell praised Maine’s Race to the Top proposal to customize learning for each student. The state’s application was also sensitive to teachers union concerns about basing teacher evaluations and pay on student performance, she said.

The application highlighted recently passed legislation allowing so-called innovative schools in Maine, rather than charter schools, which legislators have repeatedly opposed.

“The Department of Education did a lot of work to make sure the application was a good one while respecting our concerns,” she said. “To have that vision statement is going to be a good blueprint for policymakers.”

If funding for a third round of Race to the Top survives the federal budget process, independent candidate Shawn Moody said he’d be interested in applying for it, as governor.

“We need that funding to help us improve our lowest-performing schools,” he said. “We need that funding to help us implement a merit pay system.”

The performance-based teacher pay system Moody proposes differs from the methods favored by the Obama administration, which base teacher evaluations in part on students’ academic performance.

Moody recommends an annual evaluation that incorporates feedback from the principal, a teacher peer group and parents.

Independent candidate Kevin Scott praised Department of Education employees for the work they put into Maine’s application.

The document’s vision, however, doesn’t match Scott’s. He calls for a larger role for private schools in Maine’s public education system. The state’s private schools and universities, he said, should serve as the bodies that authorize charter schools.

While Maine missed out on the funding, that’s not such a bad outcome, Scott said. “We dodged another set of federally determined mandates,” he said.