Tim believes that we must improve access to quality education if we want to prepare students and workers for success in the modern economy. He supports smart investments in education — from pre-kindergarten to college and workforce training — and has learned through years of experience in Virginia that no one path is right for everyone. Drawing from his years working in his dad’s ironworking shop and his experience teaching in Honduras, a key focus of Tim’s work in public service has been strengthening career and technical education (CTE) programs that teach students skills to succeed in high-demand, good-paying jobs.
Tim believes a well-educated population is the key to having the most talented nation on earth. Under Tim’s leadership as Governor, Virginia’s innovative investments in education turned the Commonwealth into a magnet for talent. Through decades of experience, Tim learned that a huge part of remaining an attractive location for emerging industries and expanding businesses is having a skilled workforce.
To return America to the top country in the world for education, Tim supports reforms like broadening our early childhood education system, strengthening our K-12 public schools, supporting high-quality teachers and school leaders, renewing our focus on career and technical education, and dramatically reducing the cost of college. As Governor, he expanded the number of children enrolled in Pre-K by nearly 40 percent and helped expand the number of college and university facilities in Virginia to attract top students and faculty. In 2007, under Tim’s leadership, Education Week ranked Virginia the state where a child was most likely to succeed.
In the Senate, Tim has made improving America’s education system a central focus of his work, playing an instrumental role in the bipartisan Senate education reform bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This legislation decreased the emphasis on standardized testing and gave states more flexibility. It also included provisions Tim wrote to help prevent sexual assault and improve access to K-12 career and technical education programs. Tim is a founder and co-chair of the Senate CTE Caucus, which promotes improving access to career and technical education programs to ensure students of all ages are prepared with the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century. Tim knows that not everyone’s path to a successful career will or should go through a four-year college, and he is working to create a better understanding of the critical role CTE and workforce training programs play in growing our economy. In addition to his provisions enacted into law, Tim has sponsored several pieces of legislation to raise the quality of CTE programs at schools in Virginia and across the country.
Tim is concerned about the overwhelming burden of student loan debt on millions of Americans, and he’s supported policies to expand access to affordable higher education, improve financial aid, offer loan forgiveness for public service workers, and help students understand their debt obligations upfront. An estimated 56% of Virginia college students graduate with student debt. Key parts of Tim’s legislation to give public servants like servicemembers and teachers the debt relief they earned passed into law in 2018, and he will continue pushing for solutions so Americans are not held back by mountains of debt.