Education

Senator Smith believes that a strong public education system, from early childhood to higher education, is one of the most important investments we can make, because education has the power to change lives. A high-quality education empowers and creates opportunity, allowing people to reach their full potential, support their families with good-paying jobs, and become well informed and engaged citizens.

Education provides a strong foundation for our economy and our communities, and it starts with the littlest kids and learners. Senator Smith has worked in response to the childcare shortages in Minnesota, she’s a proud supporter of legislation to provide high-quality affordable childcare to all parents, to support childcare providers, and boost supply in Minnesota.

Sen. Smith believes that every young person has a right to a high-quality K-12 education. She’s introduced legislation to address teacher shortages, particularly in rural areas, hard to staff subject areas, and to help improve teacher workforce diversity. She’s heard again and again from teachers about the challenges their students are facing and so she has championed several measures to support student mental health needs and well-being. When it comes to higher education, Sen. Smith believes that college has become unaffordable for too many. She finds it troubling that the average debt for students graduating from a four-year college in Minnesota is $31,000. She believes we need to rethink this system because it’s not fair to students, and it’s getting so that it is even slowing down our economy.

But Senator Smith also understands that ‘higher education’ doesn’t always mean a 4-year degree. Sen. Smith strongly believes that we need to increase our investments in two-year community and technical colleges, and workforce education overall to ensure that students are well-prepared to meet workforce needs. This type of education will help students obtain the in-demand skills that will help them land good-paying jobs that employers are hiring for now, not in the distant future.

Sen. Smith is also committed to addressing the opportunity gaps that prevent too many students from reaching their full potential. She believes that means ensuring that every student, from LGBTQ youth, to those struggling with a challenging home life, mental health issues, or immigrant Minnesotans’ has the support they need to succeed.

Finally, Sen. Smith understands that outside the classroom our kids are facing many barriers and she strongly supports reforming and expanding the Child Tax Credit to invest in children and reduce child poverty in Minnesota and across the nation.

Latest Releases

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Joins Colleagues in Push to Fight Food Insecurity as Benefits Cliff Approaches

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined 32 of her Senate colleagues in a push to extend child nutrition waivers ahead of their expiration and enact a robust set of child nutrition priorities. With school summer break already underway in many states, it is vital that Congress extends and expands these programs as low-income families are facing a steep benefits cliff when the waivers expire on June 30, 2022. In their letter to Congressional leaders, the Senators call for extended child nutrition waivers, the creation of a nationwide Summer EBT program, and expanded community eligibility (CEP), a flexible meal service option for school districts in low-income areas. These provisions are critical to fighting child hunger and food insecurity. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the child nutrition programs and the role they play in keeping hunger at bay for millions of children across the country. As schools close for summer across the country, families will soon lose access to free school meals and be faced with the prospect of increased food insecurity, weight gain, and learning disruptions,” said the senators. “As Congress develops legislation to support families impacted by high food costs, we must help ease the burden of these challenges and ensure that these child nutrition programs can fully meet children’s nutritional needs while they are at school, afterschool and summer programs, and childcare.” “More must be done to fuel children’s health and learning as millions of families continue to struggle with the fallout of COVID-19. Extending the

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Ensure Minnesotans Aren’t Forced to Pay Ex-Spouses’ Student Debt

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that legislation she co-led to provide relief to individuals with consolidated loan debt with a spouse – including victims of domestic violence and financial abuse – has taken a major step towards becoming law. The billwould allow individuals to sever joint consolidation loans with a former spouse, which will provide long overdue financial freedom for vulnerable individuals who are being unfairly held responsible for the debt of a former partner.  While Congress eliminated the program to allow spouses to consolidate their loans in 2006, it did not provide a mechanism for severing existing loans, leaving thousands of people forced to pay the students loans of their former partners.  These loans also locked married couples out of federal programs to provide loan forgiveness for teachers, firefighters, and other public servants.  “It’s not fair for Minnesotans to be left on the hook for the students loans of a former spouse.  Survivors of domestic violence and financial abuse should not be tied to their abuser by student loans,” said Sen. Smith. “Sixteen years ago Congress ended a misguided loan program, but it did nothing to allow those who already had these loans a fair and appropriate way to cut ties. This bill will allow individuals to sever their joint consolidation loans that links them to a former partner – an especially important step for victims of domestic abuse.  I am pleased to announce the passage of this common sense bipartisan legislation in the Senate, and

Following Calls from Senator Smith, Biden Administration Expands Eligibility for Head Start Program

WASHINGTON – Following calls from U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced that it is expanding Head Start Program eligibility to help more families in Minnesota and across the country access affordable, high-quality early education services. “For over half a century, Head Start programs in Minnesota and across the country have provided vital early childhood care and education to children from low-income households,” said Senator Smith. “Complex red-tape and outdated requirements have created unnecessary barriers to access. I’m pleased the Biden administration acted so quickly in response to our request to simplify

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Extend Student Loan Payment Pause, and Ultimately Cancel Student Debt

Washington, D.C. – United States Tina Smith (D-Minn.) joined nearly 100 members of Congress in a letter to President Biden urging the administration to extend the pause on federally held student loan payments until at least the end of the year, and urged the administration to provide meaningful student debt cancellation. “Given the fast-approaching deadline for borrowers to resume payments, your administration must act as quickly as possible to extend the pause and make clear to the American public your intention to cancel a meaningful amount of student debt. We look forward to supporting your administration in getting it done,”

Sen. Smith Introduces Bill to Provide Financial Stability for College Students Faced with Unexpected Emergencies

WASHINGTON [3.11.22] – Yesterday, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) reintroduced legislation to ensure college students are able to stay enrolled in school in the face of unexpected emergencies. For many students, paying for college requires carefully balancing student loan debts, jobs, and studies, which can be easily derailed by an unexpected costly event. The Emergency Grant Aid for College Students Act would provide financial stability for students struggling to manage a sudden death in the family, car repair, medical bill or any number of financial emergencies that too often force students to drop out of school. The bill is co-sponsored by

U.S. Sens. Smith, Durbin, King, Sinema, Rep. Neguse Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Help Make College Textbooks More Affordable

WASHINGTON, D.C. [03/10/22]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senators Angus King (I-ME), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), along with U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO-02), introduced bicameral legislation designed to help students manage costs by making high quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors, and the public for free. The legislation, known as the Affordable College Textbook Act, would authorize a competitive grant program to support the creation of and expand the use of open college textbooks—textbooks that are available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access the materials.  Textbook costs are

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