TDOE Announces 12 Members of Steering Committee to Discuss Student-Focused Funding Strategy for Public Education

Monday, October 18, 2021 | 03:54pm


Policymakers Focused on Investment Strategy Representative of  Tennessee Values


Nashville, TN - Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the members of the central steering committee to look at a student-focused funding strategy for K-12 education, comprised of 12 leaders representing the state’s elected officials and agencies directly connected with K-12 public education in Tennessee. The members of the central steering committee will review input and feedback from the 18 subcommittees and the general public on how to create a student-focused investment strategy reflective of Tennessee’s values to best support students.

On Friday, October 8, Governor Lee called for a full review of the state’s funding formula for public education to focus on a student investment strategy that emphasizes all students rather than systems, empowers parents to engage in their child’s education and outcomes, ensures all students are prepared for postsecondary success, and reflects Tennesseans’ values.

"I am thankful for our state’s strong leadership among policymakers in exploring a student-focused funding strategy to emphasize the needs of all Tennessee students over systems,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We are grateful for this opportunity to have open conversations with all stakeholders connected to education in our state and welcome all Tennesseans to join the conversation.”

The 12 members of the funding review central steering committee are:  

  • Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
  • Commissioner Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Commissioner Butch Eley, Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration
  • Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson
  • House Majority Leader William Lamberth
  • Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile
  • Interim Senate Education Chairman Jon Lundberg
  • House Education Administration Chairman Mark White
  • House Education Instruction Chairlady Debra Moody
  • House Education Administration K-12 Subcommittee Chairman Kirk Haston
  • Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Chairman Bo Watson
  • House Finance, Ways, and Means Chairlady Patsy Hazlewood 

“It is critical that we are thoughtful, intentional, and focused on our students as we consider how to best invest in education,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson. “These critical decisions call for Tennesseans across the state to get involved and have their voice heard. These committees are an important part of this initiative, and I am excited to learn from their work."

“Investing in public education excellence builds thriving communities, a prosperous economy and a successful workforce,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth. “These committees will provide a platform for all Tennesseans to engage and make their voices heard on this significant investment. I am eager to learn more from those who know our education system the best: parents, students, teachers, local leaders, and community advocates.”

“The work of examining our state’s education funding strategy is a thing of great importance that requires the involvement of parents, educators, and leaders from across the state,” said House Education Administration Chairman Mark White. “I believe that the work of these committees will greatly inform our efforts in the Tennessee General Assembly, and I am excited to partner with my fellow Tennesseans in this critical conversation."

“State education funding is complex and challenging. We need to examine all the possibilities, look at ways in which we can improve the use of taxpayer dollars, involve and listen to stakeholders, and strengthen our funding mechanism statewide so that tax dollars reach the classroom,” said House Education Instruction Chairlady Debra Moody. “I look forward to hearing the discussion, understanding that difficult conversations come with divergent opinions. In the end, we must get education funding right.”

“Our schools and districts vary greatly across the state, just like each student’s unique talents and needs,” said House Education K-12 Subcommittee Chairman Kirk Haston. “The work of the committees announced today will encompass the diversity of this great state and the communities that come together in support of our students. As we think about new ways to invest in our students, I am excited for our neighbors, educators, students, families, and leaders to have their voice heard on this important issue.”

“This conversation is timely as we think about how to innovate on behalf of our students,” said Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Chairman Bo Watson. “Everything we do in education and workforce development starts with the investments that we make in our students. I am excited for the work of the of the steering committee and subcommittees to commence, and I am excited for Tennesseans across the state to be involved in this important work."

“Our future workforce starts with our investment in today’s students. I am eager to join with Tennesseans from across the state as we consider funding strategies that will drive academic success for all Tennessee students," said House Finance, Ways, and Means Chairlady Patsy Hazlewood.

The state’s engagement includes the central steering committee and 18 subcommittees, in addition to a committee of national experts, regional meetings of county commissioners and school board members, public engagement representatives, and an opportunity for public comment through a formal survey later in the fall. Each of the 18 subcommittees, composed of 8-10 members, will be led by a chair who is tasked with capturing ideas and feedback based in the unique perspective of the stakeholder group or respective topic area they serve. Each chair is a trusted advocate to responsibly collect and share feedback and suggestions for a student-based funding approach.

Over the next three months, the subcommittees will meet twice a month, either in person or virtually. The central steering committee will convene monthly and review finalized feedback provided by the subcommittees. All associated committee meeting materials, including recordings, transcripts, and minutes, will be posted here. Subcommittee members will be released in the coming days.

Nearly 1,000 Tennesseans have already submitted their interest in engaging in discussions and receiving updates related to a student-centered investment strategy. Members of the public are encouraged to continue to submit their interest via this form.

Visit this webpage for more information and learn how to get involved:

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact