Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee


Education is a priority for families in the Ninth District. I am honored to represent the district’s many schools, enrichment centers, and institutions of higher education. Education has been one of the focal points of my career, and I believe everyone should have access to a quality education.

For nearly 20 years, I worked tirelessly as a Tennessee State Senator to initiate and pass the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program to fund college scholarships, after-school programs, and pre-K education for Tennessee’s students.  Since the inception of the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program in 2004, over $4 billion has gone to Tennessee students continuing their education at the college level.

Today, I am proud to continue working to improve education in the U.S. House of Representatives. Throughout my career in Congress, I have introduced legislation aimed at improving educational access and standards for students of all ages.


I introduced the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Act (H.R. 1674).  The bill ensures privately issued student loans will once again be treated like other consumer debt and be dischargeable in bankruptcy.  Due to changes Congress made to bankruptcy laws 10 years ago, student loans made by private, for-profit lenders are currently very difficult to discharge in bankruptcy.

I introduced the bipartisan Protecting Our Students and Taxpayers (POST) Act (H.R. 4101). This bill helps stop for-profit colleges from aggressively targeting veterans and active-duty service members by eliminating the powerful financial incentives that cause them to do so.


I introduced the Protections and Regulation for Our (PRO) Students Act (H.R. 2192) with my colleagues to protect.  This bill protects students from deceitful practices and bad actors in the for-profit college industry.  It provides stricter guidelines for colleges, ensures that students have access to important and accurate information and data, strengthens oversight and regulation, and holds schools accountable for violations and poor performance.

I am a co-sponsor of the Put School Counselors Where They’re Needed Act (H.R.2022).  This bill authorizes a demonstration program to place additional professional secondary school counselors in high schools with drop-out rates of 40 percent or more. 

I introduced the Restorative Justice in Schools Act , which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to allow local educational agencies to use the funds to provide professional development activities that train school personnel to use restorative justice as a means of conflict resolution. Restorative justice is a method that aims to resolve conflicts between students in a manner that focuses on the victim and the offender of a wrong-doing.  Unlike traditional punishment, this can prevent the use of penalties such as incarceration that are often times, too harsh, expensive, and counter-productive, leading to repeat offenses. The amendment passed the House on July 8, 2015 and similar language was included in the final bill, which President Obama signed into law on December 10, 2015.  

I introduced the Positive Reduction of Incarceration by Maximizing Education (PRIME) Act, which is a means to promote the choice of education vs. incarceration.  About one in every ten young male high school dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention, compared with one in thirty-five young male high school graduates. This legislation arises out of research that has demonstrated increased education is directly related to reduce incarceration.   America's youth must be exposed to the concrete benefits of academic accomplishment.


I cosponsored The Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 4247), in order to prevent and reduce the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools. This act will protect our youth from physical or mental abuse, aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety, and any physical restraint or seclusion imposed solely for purposes of discipline or convenience, in order to ensure physical restraint and seclusion are imposed in school only when a student's behavior poses an imminent danger of physical injury to the student, school personnel, or others.


I introduced the Maximizing Opportunity and Retaining Experienced Teachers Act (MORE Teachers Act) to help address teacher shortages and retain qualified, experienced teachers. The legislation, which is supported by both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, would make teachers who teach in geographic areas with teacher shortages and those who teach an underserved subject matter eligible for up to $17,500 of federal loan forgiveness if they stay in their position for 5 years.

More on Education

January 16, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that three artistic projects in Memphis will be receiving a total of $35,000 in grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). 

January 14, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTONCongressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that the University of Memphis will receive a $3,439,035 grant from the National Science Foundation for research advancing the science of learning data science with adaptive learning for future workforce development.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

January 14, 2020 Press Release

Washington – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Friday, congratulated Whitehaven High School math teacher Nathan Kirsch for being awarded the prestigious Milken Educator Award, what some call “the Oscar for teaching.” This award is only given to 40 early- and mid-career teachers across the country.


December 19, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today expressed deep disappointment at University of Memphis basketball star James Wiseman’s decision to withdraw from the University of Memphis program to prepare for the NBA. He blamed the NCAA’s completely unreasonable eligibility ruling, and the decision that the freshman would have to donate $11,500 and miss 12 games, for the unfortunate turn of events.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

December 19, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that two Head Start programs in Memphis will be receiving major grants from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Head Start. The Shelby County Board of Education will receive $12,163,727 and Porter-Leath will receive $1,185,656 to further their work in early childhood development. 

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

December 17, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted for one of two comprehensive spending measures funding federal government programs through the end of fiscal year in September 2020. Both measures passed the House, averting another government shutdown. The measure the Congressman supported provides a record high level of spending on the National Institutes of Health, Child Care and Community Development Block Grants, Head Start, Title 1 Education, and Food for Peace. 

December 2, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will receive a $380,000 grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for research on diabetic vascular disease. 

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

“Diabetes is more prevalent in Memphis and higher than the national average, so research into any aspect of the disease is good for Memphians. This research will strengthen our Memphis medical school and support critical research to fight this devastating disease.” 


November 13, 2019 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced he filed paperwork to reinstate the Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus to serve as an informal forum for members dedicated to examining issues of student-athlete compensation, the integrity and fairness of college sports and NCAA eligibility decisions that may come before Congress. 

Congressman Cohen originally formed the first Congressional Collegiate Sports Caucus with former Texas Congressman Joe Barton in 2011. 

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

September 4, 2019 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, will preside at a Memphis Field Hearing on “Discriminatory Barriers to Voting” on Thursday, September 5, in the Historic Moot Courtroom of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law on Front Street downtown. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas are expected to attend the hearing.

Among the witnesses at the hearing will be: