GOP task force exploring rejecting nearly $2 billion in school funding
A proposal that would see the State of Tennessee foregoing nearly $2 billion in federal funding for schools is meeting stiff opposition.
House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally have appointed a joint legislative task force to explore the idea of rejecting any money from the federal government designated for schools. Sexton raised the prospect of replacing federal money with state funds earlier this year.
The announcement of the task force was quickly met with opposition.
Rev. C. Don Jones, Pastor of the Andersonville United Methodist Church, said of the proposal:
"Tennessee public schools are primarily locally funded. Extra funds from the Federal government administered by the State government help schools in our rural areas that are cash strapped. I do not understand why the Speaker, the Governor, or the present Supermajority of the General Assembly chose to harm these communities.
"As a pastor in a rural community, I see the Speaker’s proposal as irresponsible to the citizens of Tennessee."
Senate Democratic Leader Raumesh Akbari of Memphis said the federal funding is a key tool in leveling the playing field for students in economically disadvantaged areas of the state.
“Federal education funding for states is essential to ensure educational equity and opportunity for all American students. It serves as a vital pillar of our nation’s commitment to providing a quality education regardless of a student’s geographical location or socioeconomic background.
“This funding helps level the playing field by providing financial support to states with fewer resources. This enables schools in economically disadvantaged areas to offer competitive educational programs, reducing disparities in education quality."