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. Senators Tina Smith, Bob Casey, Mazie Hirono Lead 39 Colleagues in Push for More Early Childhood Education and Childcare Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) led 39 of their colleagues in a push to increase funding for childcare programs and early education in the FY2025 Appropriations bill. The Senators noted that $16 can be produced in benefits for every $1 spent on high-quality early education. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also signed the letter. “High-quality, affordable child care and early childhood education remains out of reach for many families. In more than half of states in our country, the average annual cost of full-time, center-based child care is more expensive than the average annual cost of in-state college tuition,” wrote the Senators.“Half of Americans live in places with a shortage of licensed child care providers or slots, which particularly affects rural populations. While these workforce shortages have existed for years, these issues have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and its aftermath. Now is the time to increase the federal investment in early care and education and help all children achieve their full potential.” “Access to childcare and early education is essential, both for the safe and healthy development of our kids, and because it allows parents the freedom to pursue their careers and contribute to the economy,” said Senator Smith. “But right now, childcare is too expensive and inaccessible for too many families. I am proud to help lead this letter that calls for significant investments in childcare and early education for our kids in the next fiscal year.” The letter specifically requests: 1.    Child Care

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Rep. Katherine Clark Reintroduce Legislation to Improve School Climates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA5) reintroduced legislation to improve support for youth in schools. The bill, called the Trauma-Informed Schools Act, would support training for teachers and staff in the development of positive school culture and help schools support young people struggling with adversity. The bill is co-led by Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-IL5) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA1) and Congresswoman Andrea Salinas (D-OR6). “Young students are experiencing unique challenges in school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased social media use, and lack of access to mental health care. More than 1 in 5 young people today struggle with their mental health, and that number is rising. We need to do more to provide them with the support they need to succeed,” said Senator Smith. “I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation, which will help schools address childhood trauma and build positive school cultures so that all students and adults are welcome and supported in school buildings.” “America is in the throes of a mental health crisis, and our kids are experiencing the worst of it,” said Democratic Whip Katherine Clark. “Overcoming this epidemic means equipping our schools with trained, trauma-informed professionals who can help students navigate whatever challenges they may encounter, both in and out of the classroom. The Trauma-Informed Schools Act makes that possible — giving the next generation a fair shot by providing the emotional and social support they need to succeed.” “Trauma is difficult for anyone to process, but for children and teens, it can be especially life-changing and impact their ability to succeed

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Chris Murphy Introduce Bill to Forgive Student Loan Debt for Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women, veteran, and minority farmers. Student loan debt is a major hurdle for beginning farmers, and this legislation would incentivize farmers to enter—and stay—in the agricultural industry, and strengthen opportunities to grow successful businesses. The average age of a farmer in the United States is 58 years old. Smith and Murphy’s legislation will reduce barriers for

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Joins Colleagues to Reintroduce Bill to Help Educate Americans about the Effects of Climate Change

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined her colleagues in introducing legislation that would support a variety of programs nationwide to help Americans better understand what climate change will mean for our everyday lives—things like including information about climate change in school science curricula and public education campaigns. The bill, called the Climate Change Education Act, would establish a Climate Change Education Program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide grants and technical assistance to state and local education agencies, institutions of higher learning, professional associations and academic societies, and youth corps organizations. “Climate change is happening, and we cannot ignore it,” said Senator

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Joins Colleagues to Prevent College Students from Being Billed For Textbooks Without Their Consent

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined her colleagues Dick Durbin (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) in sending a letter to the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging him to finalize proposed changes that would make “Inclusive Access” (IA) and “Equitable Access” (EA) programs – models that allow institutions of higher education to automatically charge a student’s federal student aid for textbooks without a student’s consent – into an opt-in program, rather than an opt-out program.  Currently, colleges and universities can partner with textbook publishers like McGraw Hill, Pearson, and Cengage to deliver textbooks digitally, charging students in the process through IA and EA programs. Although IA and EA

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar Announce STEM Education Funding for Minnesota Tribal Colleges and Universities

WASHINGTON [2/14/2024] – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs and Education Committees, and Amy Klobuchar (both D-Minn.) announced funding for White Earth Tribal and Community College and Red Lake Nation College to expand their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. The funding comes from the National Science Foundation and is part of a larger project to promote education and careers in STEM for Indigenous students. “STEM education has never been more important as the demand for STEM-trained employees has soared,” said Senator Smith. “This funding will provide accessible pathways for Native students to pursue higher education and serve their communities – all while integrating Tribal cultural heritage

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