The group is studying the feasibility of rejecting federal funding, citing unnamed strings attached.
Many people are angry the task force even exists.
“You will set our children back decades,” Candice Ashburn said. “Please, no phasing, no partial rejection, no incrementalism, no reject and replace.”
Ashburn and a host of other women spoke at a press conference put on by the new nonprofit Rise & Shine Tennessee, which formed after the Covenant shooting earlier this year.
Others in the group are frustrated that Tennessee taxpayers weren’t allowed to testify at the education hearings, especially since it’s their money at stake.
“There are thousands of Tennesseans that cannot be here,” Maryam Abolfazli said. “We come here to support and represent them as well.”
Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) continued to distance himself from the group, telling reporters he had no say or feedback on the group’s hearings.
“I didn’t call it, I didn’t task it. It hasn’t been my responsibility, and I haven’t really been engaged in it,” he said Wednesday. “So, how they put together the input has really been a legislative decision.”
Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) chairs up the group and says he advised against letting people testify.
“Candidly, I recommended to my co-chair that we shouldn’t allow it,” Lundberg said. “The reason was it’s not that we didn’t want to hear from them, but you have to realize the charge of our committee was really to look at federal funding and could the state do a better job in that?”
Furthermore, Wednesday saw two organizations from out of state present at the task force’s hearings, both with very conservative histories.
Lundberg said that the decision didn’t come from him.
“There are two chairs to this committee, you have a Senate chair, which is myself, and a House chair,” he said. “We divided up those folks that we wanted to bring in, and either of us could overrule the other and say, ‘No we don’t.’”
Whenever the group feels it’s ready, it’s expected to release its findings. Though several lawmakers told News 2 these meetings could stretch all the way to January.