Tennessee Republicans Delay School Funding Lawsuit

Andy Spears
2 min readMar 4, 2021

Tennessee Republicans are so resistant to funding public schools that they are now coming after the judiciary branch in order to delay a school funding lawsuit many observers suggest the state will lose.

Chalkbeat reports that a Nashville judge set to hear a case about the adequacy of the state’s funding formula has now recused herself following the filing of legislation that would remove her from the bench.

Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle did not offer a reason for her recusal in a two-page order issued on Monday in Davidson County Chancery Court. But the order came several days after Rep. Tim Rudd, a Republican from Murfreesboro, filed a resolution seeking to remove Lyle from the bench over her ruling last year to expand absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Rudd, who chairs the House subcommittee on elections and campaign finance, said the ruling amounted to judicial overreach.

As Chalkbeat notes, the funding case was schedule to be heard this November. Now, that timeline is in doubt as a new judge will need to be assigned and will have to be brought up to speed on the case.

A bipartisan commission in Tennessee has suggested the state underfunds public schools by $1.7 billion. Meanwhile, the state’s GOP continues to crow about a funding record that has consistently earned the state a grade of “F” in both overall funding level and funding effort relative to ability.

The state has at least a $3.1 billion surplus this year, and yet GOP leaders in the legislature have joined with Gov. Bill Lee to maintain the paltry status quo of school funding.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .