Roger Simon: Speaker Sexton’s Task Force to Look into Rejecting Federal Education Dollars Should Include the Public

Mar 16, 2023

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Roger Simon in studio to weigh in on Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s efforts to reject funding from Department of Education in the state.

(Zippity Do Dah plays)

Leahy: We brought that just for you, Roger.

Simon: I love that song. Brings tears to my eyes.

Leahy: Zippity Do Dah.

Simon: I think of myself at age seven, sitting in a theater watching that.

Leahy: In New York City.

Simon: And loving it.

Leahy: Yes.

Simon: It’s the decline of Disney personified. It’s so sad because Disney did wonderful things for the world.

Leahy: We’ll make it your theme song here, Roger.

Simon: You got it.

Leahy: We’ll play it.

Simon: This is an upper. But it’s a sad upper because it’s no more.

Leahy: But look, there is hope for the future.

Simon: Yes, there always is.

Leahy: We want to talk about some of that hope here because obviously, we had a warning about the possibilities of every digital currency taking over everything. That’s your column today at The Epoch Times. But I wanna bring some zippity do dah sunshine and light into the program this morning, and it comes in the form of an action taken recently by Tennessee House Speaker Cam Sexton. We talked about it.

And this has been a theme on our program for years to basically tell the federal government, we don’t want any of your Department of Education money because with your money comes strings. And, K-12 public schools are in trouble enough. They don’t need to have some Washington bureaucrat who’s woke telling you what to do.

Simon: Actually, dumbing them down.

Leahy: Totally dumbing them down. And of course, in K-12 public schools here in Tennessee, two-thirds of third graders are not at grade level in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Simon: It’s a national illness.

Leahy: It’s at a national level.

Simon: And the Department of Education is at great fault. And one of the great things about the Republican candidates, at least all of them that I can think of, I don’t know about Haley in this, want to obliterate the Department of Education. It should have gone under Trump one, but it didn’t, but it should go now.

Leahy: And by the way, in his campaign, stop reiterated he would get rid of the Department of Education.

Simon: Oh, absolutely.

Leahy: Asterisk. You had a chance, and you didn’t. (Laughs) I’m just saying.

Simon: But I think he would, the next time. I believe that. I think it would be one of the very first things to go.

Leahy: I was very pleasantly surprised when about a month ago Tennessee Speaker of the House, Cameron Sexton announced that he wanted to start the process of telling the federal government, we don’t want your $1.8 billion from the Department of Education. That was a good sign.

Simon: Very good.

Leahy: Now the question is, how does it happen?

Simon: Yes, of course. The devil is always in the details. He’s started a new group that will study this. (Laughter) See now, this is where these things disappear or become one-tenth of whatever they should have been. But at least they’re doing it.

My hope would be that this process, this study of the procedure, would have a little bit available to the public, so the public can weigh in, and we can see exactly what’s being done and who’s doing it.

Leahy: This is in alignment with my thinking on it as well, Roger. There is legislative activity to start the process. And on Monday, Speaker Sexton filed legislation that would create an 11-member task force to study the process required for the state to forego federal funding. That’s a good start. Asterisk.

Simon: Yes, it is a good start. Have they published yet who the 11 are? Or is it a little early for that?

Leahy: The leader of it would be Penny Schwinn, the commissioner of education.

Simon: Whose brother is connected with CRT and all this stuff?

Leahy: She’s a UC Berkeley grad who is not widely respected here in Tennessee because she’s been promoting a left-wing curriculum and has really done nothing to enforce the anti-CRT law that was passed by the legislature. But having said that, if you’re going do a task force, I would say this.

Simon: I think they should put Glenn Reynolds in that group.

Leahy: I would agree. I think you’ve got to look at the logistics of it. The idea here, it’s interesting. The purpose of this is going to be they are going to begin meeting monthly in August and are going to give a strategic plan to Governor Lee by December 1st. But here’s the key.

In her role as chair, the legislation further requires that Commissioner of Education Schwinn notify the US Department of Education by August 31st and advise them on, wait for it…Tennessee’s intent to explore the possibility. (Laughs) There are three qualifiers right there of Tennessee rejecting federal funding. It’s a slow start, but it’s a start.

Simon: It’s a snail start.

Leahy: Yes. Yes. Snail. Moving slowly.

Simon: I hate to see that. I really hate to see that. One of the things about woke is it’s a money scam. It’s a kind of a weirdly advanced form of capitalism.

Leahy: It’s political crony capitalism.

Simon: Yes, exactly. And communism is capitalism in that way.

Leahy: Yes, exactly. All the money flows to the elite running the show.

Simon: Elite who are already in position and the rest of you can go suck lemons. (Chuckles)

Leahy: So here’s the thing. 11 members of this task force, Penny Schwinn is the chair. (Buzzer sound) Problem there. Then three state senators. They’re selected by, wait for it…the Speaker of the Senate, Randy McNally, who’s got a few problems of his own.

Simon: I hope they’re not transgender.

Leahy: I know.

Simon: Why doesn’t Randy McNally, if anyone’s listening to this right now, recuse himself at this point from anything like that?

Leahy: We’ve made that suggestion to him. On Sunday, we wrote for the first time in the six-year history of The Tennessee Star did an editorial, but we said just time for him to resign. What’s probably gonna happen with him is the session only has six weeks to go.

Simon: They still have to make that reference.

Leahy: Then three members of the State House, selected by Speaker Cameron Sexton. I think Scott Cepicky would be a great person to be on that. He’s been tracking the education thing. Then it gets one district superintendent selected by Speaker McNally.

One district superintendent, selected by Speaker Sexton of the House. Then one teacher, selected by McNally, and one teacher, selected by Speaker Sexton. All I have to say is none of these people have an interest in telling the Feds, we don’t want your money.

Simon: Yes. Or have an interest in actual education. It’s frightening because, you know, Abraham Lincoln was a kind of a genius, really, and a great writer of speeches. He went to a one-room schoolhouse. He didn’t need any of this stuff. I think you could do the inverse-square law on education and the money that is spent on it.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Cameron Sexton” by Cameron Sexton. Background Photo “Department of Education Building” by Farragutful. CC BY-SA 4.0.













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