Thom’s Work on Education

As the former PTA President of his daughter’s public high school, Thom understands the importance of providing educational opportunities for all students. He also understands the importance of empowering teachers and parents – not federal bureaucrats – to play a large decision-making role at the local level. Thom has advocated for reforms making it easier for parents to engage in their children’s education and removing burdensome roadblocks on educators and local school districts. As the product of both community colleges and public universities, Thom has also focused on supporting North Carolina’s community college and public university systems.

Strengthening Career and Technical Education and Job Training in a Changing 21st Century Economy

Thom was a strong supporter of the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act. The enacted law encourages states, schools, and local CTE providers to update education and job training to meet the needs of local economies. North Carolina will have greater authority to take their unique needs into account and set its own CTE goals, taking Washington control out of the equation.

Students in rural North Carolina should be just as prepared for the workforce as students in urban parts of the state. It is my priority to help build a pipeline of highly skilled students and fill the gap between a diploma and business and industry and I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this important legislation.

Senator Thom Tillis

Expanding College Opportunities for Low-Income and Underrepresented Students

Thom joined Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) to introduce the bipartisan GEAR UP for Success Act. GEAR UP is a federal grant program that seeks to increase college awareness, readiness, and success for low-income and underrepresented students. Thom’s bipartisan legislation aims to make GEAR UP even more effective in boosting high school graduation and college acceptance rates.

North Carolina is currently the recipient of four GEAR UP grants:
Appalachian State University
  1. $2.7 million per year that covers 9,500 students over 8 school districts in Western North Carolina

  2. $1.4 million per year that covers 5,100 students over 3 school districts in Western North Carolina

    UNC System Schools
  3. $4 million per year that covers 22,000 students over 11 school districts in rural North Carolina

    Fayetteville State University
  4. $8.2 million over 7 years

Landmark Education Reform to Improve School Safety and Provide More Control to Parents and Teachers

  • Thom was a strong supporter of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, a landmark bill signed into law by President Obama that removes power from the federal government and provides more control to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents.

Though imperfect, this legislation enacts important reforms to our education system by strengthening state and local control and ending the Common Core mandate as well as federal test-based accountability. We are taking the federal government out of the classroom and returning control to where it belongs: parents, teachers, local communities, and states. North Carolina students deserve the best and I’m pleased this legislation will increase funding to the state, ensuring our communities in need get the funding they deserve.

Senator Thom Tillis

  • In 2018, Thom supported providing $1.1 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant Program (SSAE) an increase of $700 million from the previous enacted level. This is funding that will contribute to increasing local control over educational investments, support comprehensive school mental health programs and school safety, and promote professional and workforce development.

Advocating for North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs)

Thom is a proud member of the bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus and has worked with his colleagues to strengthen support for HBCUs and ensure they have access to federal resources and workforce development opportunities.

North Carolina has more HBCUs than any other state and Senator Tillis has had a measurable track record of results in ensuring they can continue to provide quality education, increase the pipeline of qualified talent, and create more innovative and inclusive industries in the 21st century, especially in STEM-related fields.

Senator Tillis helped to secure language and increase funding for the HBCU Capital Financing Program in the FY19 Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations bill. The program, which provides loans to HBCUs at a below market interest rate to build structures on their campus or refinance existing debt, received $40.4 million, a $10 million increase above the FY18 enacted level.

In February 2018, Thom introduced the Carryover Equity Act, bipartisan legislation to overturn an outdated, biased policy and provide 1890s Land-Grant Universities – all of which are HBCUs – including North Carolina A&T State University, with the same financial flexibility currently enjoyed by their peers. Senator Tillis secured language in the final 2018 Farm Bill to include his bipartisan Carryover Equity Act to allow Historically Black Land-Grant Universities to gain the financial flexibility they need to continue advancing their crucial mission, programs, and extension services through long-term investment and project development.