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Local Control vs Federal Funding of Education

States eye rejecting federal money because it comes with too many strings.

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Articles, Opinion, Politics

Led by Republican lawmakers in Tennessee, a working group is weighing what it would cost for the state to sever the government purse strings that bind students to federal imperatives. The group will address “the regulations and requirements that come along with the federal funding, and if the state could step in and fill that funding gap itself …” Critics of the plan say this would undermine public schools and bolster charter and private ones, which have more independence in creating curricula.

Battles over policies and books that depict or promote same-sex and transgender lifestyles and severing parents from having a say in these important issues are roiling educational districts across the country. The result is a patchwork of differing approaches taken by local school systems. Federal laws increasingly favor liberal attitudes on presenting sexual topics in the classroom, so some states are considering cutting ties to federal education funding in order to maintain state autonomy. Is this the beginning of a reclamation of states’ rights?

Tennessee Leads the Charge

The stated goal of Tennessee’s working group is to “provide a clearer picture of how much autonomy Tennessee truly has in educating [its students].” One Democrat in the group has announced that she will vote for continued federal funding regardless, citing the importance of such cashflows for special needs students, English-language training, and the poor. State Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D) said: “The harsh consequences of rejecting this $1.8 billion in funding cannot be overstated. Through this committee, I will advocate that Tennessee keep accepting these necessary funds.”

State Sen. John Lundberg (R), chair of the working group, said he urged participants to “[k]eep students in mind as they’re doing these deliberations and doing their fact-finding, because that’s what at the end of the day is important.”

Subject to Federal Regulations

GettyImages-1496916443 school - federal

(Photo by Howard Schnapp/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

More and more parents from across the political spectrum are asking understandable questions about the impacts of exposing young students to gender questioning and drag queens. They are concerned that core learning skills are suffering, being replaced by federally regulated race and gender subject matters that have little to do with reading, writing, and arithmetic.

As America is fractured by culture wars and aggressive progressive theories, a pullback from decades of growing federal domination may be in the works. For some states, no amount of federal dollars is worth denying parental rights.

Consider how this may impact other controversial situations. Will federal stipends for health insurance or services be refused by red states if abortion is mandated as a condition of receipt? What if grants for land use projects are tied to rewilding or renewable-energy boondoggles?  As federal control of local education tightens, expect other states to initiate similar efforts to seek a clearer picture of their own autonomy.

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