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Hensley named to House-Senate Education Funding Committee

This information is from 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD., R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Maury, Marshall and part of Williamson counties in the State Legislature.

Recently, Tennessee State Senate and House speakers announced creation of a new Joint Working Group on Federal Education Funding , and I was appointed to serve on it.

The working group will study the impact federal education funding has in and out of the classroom. That includes restrictions, mandates, and additional regulations required by the Federal Department of Education, and whether the state can provide similar services without taking federal dollars.

Federal dollars always come with strings attached that could be antithetical to Tennessee’s education values and strip us of autonomy in educating our students.

Some requirements that come with these federal funds could also adversely affect our budgets, possibly mandating even more spending than the federal government provides.

We receive approximately $1.8 billion from the federal government out of $15 billion we spend on education each year, with some fluctuation depending on budget and tax collections.

We don’t yet have answers to these questions and concerns, and that’s why this working group has been created.

It’s important that we understand the full scope of the potential impacts of these federal dollars and take time to explore our options.

The bipartisan working group of House and Senate members has these responsibilities:

• Identify the amount of federal funding state and political subdivisions of the state receive for educational programs and purposes and the laws associated with accepting such funds.

• Examine how the state and its political subdivisions use or intend to use federal education funding and if there are conditions or requirements to accepting such funds.

• Report on the feasibility of the state rejecting the federal education funding.

• Recommend a strategy on how to reject certain federal funding or how to eliminate unwanted restrictions on the state due to the receipt of such federal funds.

"I am honored to serve on the working group and look forward to better understanding the requirements that come with federal education funding and helping determine what’s best for education in Tennessee," Hensley said.

"Like every other state, federal funding is a critical resource in Tennessee’s education system, but it should not come at the expense of our priorities, values and autonomy. Tennessee determines its education system, not the federal government.

"This working group is a first step in identifying potentially negative impacts of federal education funding and coming up with solutions."

Other senators on the working group include Jon Lundberg, Raumesh Akbari, Bill Powers and Dawn White.

House members on the working group include Debra Moody, John Ragan, Timothy Hill, William Slater and Ronnie Glynn.

The group will submit its report and recommendations to the chairs of several committees in January, 2024.

Then, the general assembly will look at the feasibility and benefits of rejecting federal dollars, and this committee is looking into all the ramifications and trying to determine what is best for education in Tennessee.

I look forward to this group’s findings so stay tuned for future updates.

Sen. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, or call 615-741-3100, or call toll free at 1-800-449-8366 extension 13100 or fax 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462, or call 931-796-2018, call his cell phone at 931-212-8823 or e-mail:

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