Sen. Raumesh Akbari statement on G.O.P. effort to reject federal K-12 education funding

Tennessee receives $1.8B in federal funding for students

Tennessee Senate Democrats
2 min readSep 25, 2023

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MEMPHIS — Senate minority leader Sen. Raumesh Akbari issued a statement today advocating for the state of Tennessee to continue utilizing federal funds for K-12 public education students.

On Sept. 25, Tennessee’s Republican speakers appointed a 10-member panel to determine whether Tennessee can reject $1.8 billion in federal funding for education and recommend a strategy for how to do so before the legislature reconvenes in January.

Tennessee receives $1.8 billion in Title I, IDEA, and other federal program funding each year, which support low-income students, students with disabilities, and school lunch programs.

Tennessee, which ranks among the states with the worst K-12 student funding, would be the first state to undertake a rejection of federal education funds.

Sen. Akbari voiced her opposition to the scheme in a statement immediately following the announcement:

“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.

“Federal funds are crucial in supporting students with special needs, English language learners, and those from low-income families. These resources help schools provide specialized services and interventions that might otherwise be unaffordable.

“With a well-educated workforce being key to our economic competitiveness, federal funding also helps states, like Tennessee, invest in STEM education, vocational training, and other programs that prepare students for the demands of the modern workforce.

“Federal education funding is a strategic investment in the future of our state and nation. The harsh consequences of rejecting this $1.8 billion of funding cannot be overstated.

“Through this committee, I will advocate that Tennessee keep accepting these necessary funds. After all, our tax dollars should be used to support Tennessee students, not students in other states.”

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Tennessee Senate Democrats

Fighting for everyday people in the Tennessee General Assembly