Independent Think Tank Says More Masks On The Horizon For Tennessee Schools Because Of Strings Attached To ESSER Funding

Image Credit: Tennessee Department of Education

The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

In a white paper summary released this year, TN Liberty Network details how the federal government uses Covid relief money via Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds “to coerce K-12 public school compliance with CDC-related requirements, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) requirements, and mental health requirements.”

According to the white paper, TN Liberty Network was founded in January 2021 and is an independent Tennessee-based think tank comprised of 28 volunteer researchers who live within the state’s borders.

“TN Liberty Network does not have a public membership, does not raise or accept funding, does not have a bank account, does not have a public-facing website, is not a registered 501-type organization, does not have a federal tax ID number, is not part of any another organization, and is not instructed by any organization or individual on what to research or what outcomes are produced. TN Liberty Network only follows money and evidence to factual and documented conclusions.”


According to the white paper summary titled Follow the Money: Blood Money in U.S. Schools, and other sources, Esser III funds had federal requirements that included students wearing masks and social distancing in order for counties to receive the money.

One source told us, “It was found that Williamson County Schools took ESSER III Funds, which may be why the administration and School Board were so adamant about masks while parents were vocally opposed to it, etc. If the ESSER Funds and requirements were part of the deal, it should have been made public!!! Sometimes there is just some little unknown information that suddenly becomes known that makes the whole situation make sense – parents scratching their heads at why the school was enforcing such a ridiculous thing – but money may have been behind it. As the Bible says, the love of money is the root of all evil.”

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From the white paper:

If Covid accomplished anything in the last two-and-a-half years, it opened our eyes to the stark reality that our government education system is a bloated bureaucratic babysitter with no accountability and no transparency. Backed by teachers’ unions, it has an insatiable hunger for power over the minds and bodies of our children—and a hunger for money attached to each of our children.

In a document obtained from our sources, Williamson County’s plan for federal relief spending shows that WCS initially received received $599,880 in ESSER I funds (under President Trump’s administration) which had no strings attached. WCS then received a further $2,325,327 in ESSER II funds, still with no strings attached. Then came ESSER III funds (authorized by the current administration under President Joe Biden) with strings attached to the tune of $5,222,354. Williamson County schools have received a total of over $8 million in funds. Franklin Special Schools District (FSSD) also received ESSER funding, along with every school district in every county in Tennessee.

The document states that this plan is available to view on the WCS website. The Tennessee Conservative looked for this document but could not find it on the website. If it is there, it is difficult, if not impossible to find. 

If one looks at what WCS has already spent money on, you will see that the LEA has used $720 thousand on mental health services, nearly 9% of the total ESSER funds. WCS states on its website that their number one goal in preparing students for the future is “to expand support services for students, including social, emotional, physical, and mental health needs.” This comes before their second goal which is “to achieve a target of 90% of graduating students earning an ACT composite of 21 or higher.”


Why does WCS feel compelled to expand mental health services for students in a school district which ranks first in Tennessee among districts with more than one high school, in the wealthiest county in the state?

In the white paper, TN Liberty Network says, “ESSER is the most money ever given to public education—11 times more than annual Title I spending and five times more than total federal K-12 spending in 2019-2020.”

When the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was signed by President Joe Biden in March of last year, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill allocated another $122 billion in ESSER III funds to K-12 schools.

In order to be approved for ARP ESSER III funds, every state was required to make a plan to show how they will support its LEAs implementing, “to the greatest extent practicable, prevention and mitigation policies in line with the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC.” The mitigation strategies in question include universal and correct wearing of masks, physical distancing, handwashing, cleaning, contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, and efforts to provided vaccinations to staff and students.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at

6 thoughts on “Independent Think Tank Says More Masks On The Horizon For Tennessee Schools Because Of Strings Attached To ESSER Funding

  • July 18, 2022 at 5:07 pm

    I know this won’t happen but put the remainder in escrow. Plan to return it. No mask mandate nor Vax mandates shall be allowed. Neither work and both endanger the children’s health both physically and mentally .

  • July 18, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    Tell them where to put their money and masks. But they won’t!! TN. and others will sell their souls and Freedom for CASH!!

  • July 19, 2022 at 12:45 am

    That’s why my kids are in private. TN schools turned out to be just like IL schools. Public schools are the new enemy.

    • July 19, 2022 at 2:24 pm

      This is what you get when you make a deal with the devil. What will the liberal school system do when the government decides to put abortion information in schools and tie it to funding. My guess is…..they’d be happy to.

  • July 21, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    The recommendation to counties is to return the last 1/3 of monies. Many counties have, especially in Texas. We find out the schools do NOT value the students more than the money, what great values to be teaching- sacrifice the children for…. what?


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