JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Local educators expressed concern about Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton’s proposal to reject federal education funding at a Washington County Democratic Party-hosted forum Tuesday.

“To refuse federal funding to me is dangerous,” said Indian Trail Middle School teacher and Tennessee Education Association Vice President Joe Crabtree.

Crabtree said even though lawmakers are confident that the state has the funds to replace the roughly $1.8 billion it receives from the federal government, he worries that they won’t have enough to sustain programs like school lunches and Head Start, both federally funded, in the long term.

“I’m afraid that if we get rid of the federal funding, that there will be programs that go by the wayside,” Crabtree told News Channel 11. “Because it’ll be at the whim of lawmakers in Nashville.”

Lawmakers say it’s worth considering what the state must do to keep federal funding and whether the money benefits Tennessee students and schools.

Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) said he is “glad that he at least floated the idea.”

“What do we get from the federal government for what they’re spending?” said Lundberg.

LaDawn Hudgins, a speech language pathologist at North Side Elementary, said she knows what federal funding get’s students.

It’s programs like Head Start pre-kindergarten and in-school therapy like the kind Hudgins provides.

“We’ve got to have it, without a doubt,” Hudgins said.