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IL Wins $42 million Charter Schools Grant

Illinois has won a federal grant to open scores of new charter schools. As IPR Education Desk reporter Dusty Rhodes reports, it’s worth more than $42 million.

The federal Department of Education grant is meant to create up to 70 new charter schools over the next five years. State Superintendent Tony Smith issued a statement saying the grant provides an opportunity for students to attend excellent schools that best fit their needs.

But Charlie McBarron, spokesman for the Illinois Education Association teachers’ union, says public funds could be better spent elsewhere.

“Everyone knows schools in districts statewide are cutting programs, eliminating physical education and elective classes, all due to a lack of funding. And when there’s new money available, it goes for charters? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.”

Two Illinois charter networks were awarded expansion grants — separate from the statewide money. LEARN Charter Network will receive 6-and-a-half million dollars; Noble Network will receive about $8.5 million.

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