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Education

Public Education: One of Our Great Equalizers

Public schools provided Steve, and many others, with a foundation for the rest of their lives. Today his children go to the same public schools he and his wife, Lisa, attended. Steve believes that no matter which zip code you grow up in, you should have great public schools that give you an opportunity to learn, grow, and prosper.


Public education is one of the great equalizers in America.

Steve will replace Secretary Betsy DeVos with a Secretary of Education who has experience as an educator and believes that teachers should be at the table when we craft education policies. We would never design healthcare policies without the input of doctors, and we need to make sure education policy has educators involved.

As a country that relies on—and deeply values—public education, school and training opportunities must serve the needs of all Americans. And there is much more we can do.


STEVE BELIEVES THE GOVERNMENT, SCHOOLS, AND PRIVATE INDUSTRY CAN WORK TOGETHER TO PROVIDE EDUCATIONAL PATHS FOR ALL TYPES OF CAREERS THAT WILL SUPPORT A STRONG MIDDLE CLASS.

Not every path to success will require a college degree, though some do require a workforce-relevant credential or a 2- or 4-year degree. These additional options can provide pathways to good jobs at family-sustaining wages in less time and at a lower cost to the student and future worker. Steve would ensure the federal government supports pathways to good jobs, including:

  • Tax credits for employers who bring on apprentices or offer work-based learning opportunities.
  • Direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to require companies to disclose investment in workers and workforce training.
  • Financial support, including allowing the use of Pell Grants, for students to obtain employer-recognized certificates needed to secure jobs that can sustain a family.
  • Increase Pell Grant eligibility to serve more families.

For those attending college to get an employer-recognized credential or a 2- or 4-year degree, Steve believes we must address rising costs and ensure that college loan programs serve the students using them—not the loan companies. Steve will work to:

  • Provide free tuition for community and Tribal College attendance through grants to states, localities, and Tribes or supplemental grants for those that have already made or are making attendance free.
  • Cap tuition at institutions using federal student loans.
  • Reclaim federal management over student loan initiation in order to lower interest rates and allow for refinancing if interest rates drop. 
  • Expanding and improving public service student loan repayment programs so young people can afford to go to college and give back to their country.
  • Provide tax credits to employers who help their employees pay off educational debt. We should also eliminate the treatment of student loan payments by employers as income.


STEVE WILL ENSURE THAT MINORITY SERVING INSTITUTIONS (MSI) CONTINUE TO BE A KEY PART OF AMERICA’S EDUCATION FUTURE.

  • Invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Steve will invest in the vital educational role of HBCUs with an increase in both direct spending and bonding authority for these colleges and universities. Responding to the GAO recommendation on this topic, he will convene HBCU leadership and private financial institutions to find ways to create more access to capital financing.
  • Steve will do the same for Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities to boost the flow of infrastructure dollars to these institutions.
  • Support Representative Alma Adams’ HBCU PARTNERS Act to get the federal government to strategically engage with HBCUs and codify the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs.


STEVE KNOWS THE VALUE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, AND ENSURING ALL CHILDREN BEGIN SCHOOL READY TO LEARN.

  • He will double federal investment in K-12 education to regain America’s competitive education advantage. This will include helping local districts with wage and loan repayment incentives to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and principals to teach in low-performing or high-poverty schools.
  • He will OPPOSE vouchers and the privatization of America’s public schools.
  • Steve will also work with Congress to ensure every family who wants to participate has access to a quality pre-K program. Early childhood education and preschool improve a child’s educational achievement throughout their school years while preparing them for success as an adult.   
  • Over his first term, Steve will fulfill the federal government’s promise of full funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Meeting the promised funding level of up to 40% is an important part of making sure every child has a fair shot at success.
  • Improve and expand training for principals because quality school leadership matters for a quality education.
  • Boost funding for afterschool and summer programs that help close the achievement gap.
  • Increasing funding for school-based mental health.
  • Increasing funding for restorative justice and trauma-informed practices in schools. 
  • Steve will ensure the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights will aggressively protect the rights of all students to a public education free of discrimination or harassment.
  • Steve will push back against policies and practices that erode our nation’s commitment to Brown v. Board of Education.

A Record of Accomplishment on Education

  • Froze tuition for four years in a row and made record investments in public education, resulting in Montana being named one of the most affordable states for in-state college tuition.
  • Secured the state’s first-ever investment in high-quality, publicly funded early childhood education.
  • More than doubled dual enrollment (high school students taking college classes), saving Montana students and families more than $5 million in tuition.
  • Secured a $350,000 grant to expand Jobs for Montana’s Graduates into tribal communities and schools with large Native American student populations.
  • Initiated the STEM Mentors initiative and STEM scholarships to incentivize Montana students to pursue post-secondary education in a STEM or healthcare field.
  • Improved local school broadband by working with the EducationSuperHighway project and providing funding to match e-rate funds for school broadband.
  • Empowered local school districts to adopt competency-based education models, awarding credit to students based on demonstrated proficiency rather than number of minutes and hours spent in a classroom.