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

Senator Smith, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill Giving Tribal Colleges and Universities a Stronger Voice in Education Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), along with U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jon Tester (D-Mon.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), introduced bipartisan legislation – the National Advisory Council on Indian Education Improvement Act – aimed at giving Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) greater input over federal funding and policymaking that impacts them. “Minnesota’s Tribal Colleges are important institutions that serve Native and non-Native students alike in some of the most impoverished and geographically isolated regions of the country,” said Smith. “These institutions deserve a seat at the table when federal agencies make decisions that impact them. I’m proud of this bipartisan effort to support TCUs and their students and look forward to getting this bill across the finish line.” “The 35 accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the U.S., which together form the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, commend Senators Fischer and Tester for their leadership in introducing this important legislation. The National Advisory Council on Indian Education Act will ensure Tribal College and University voices are included and supported throughout the council’s work, thereby strengthening the K-16 pathway for American Indian and Alaska Native students. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this much needed legislation,”said Carrie L. Billy, President and CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. The National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) advises the Secretaries of Education and Interior on programs serving Native students of all ages. NACIE releases an annual report, but neither Department has a process for considering NACIE’s

Senator Smith Applauds Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Ensure Minnesotans Aren’t Forced to Pay Ex-Spouses’ Student Debt

WASHINGTON [9.22.22] – 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 passed the House of Representatives and will be signed into law by President Biden. The bipartisan, bicameral bill will 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.  “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 thrilled to announce the passage of this common sense bipartisan legislation and look forward to seeing it signed into law by President Biden.” 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

Senators Klobuchar, Smith Announce Significant Investment in Minnesota Childcare Programs on College Campuses

Washington, DC [9.21.22] — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (both D-MN) announced significant federal funding that will help provide childcare for low-income parents who face additional challenges in accessing postsecondary education. The grants, which total over $650,000, will support four years of campus-based childcare programs at St. Cloud State University and Minneapolis Community & Technical College. “For far too many parents across our state, the struggle to find high-quality, affordable childcare serves as a barrier preventing them from pursuing higher education or reentering the workforce,” said Klobuchar. “This funding will enable parents attending St. Cloud State University and

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Reintroduces Bill to Help Schools Overcome Teacher Shortages in Minnesota, Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C. [08.02.22] – Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—a member of the Senate Education Committee—reintroduced legislation to help schools and districts in Minnesota and across the country facing teacher shortages.  More than 40 percent of the nation’s small, rural school districts struggle to adequately staff their schools, and shortages are most acute in certain subject areas. There is a growing need for STEM, foreign language, and special education teachers. Additionally, there is a severe lack of racial diversity—nationwide teachers of color compromise only 18 percent of the teacher workforce.  “I’m hearing from Minnesota school superintendents about the many vacancies they’re struggling to fill. More than 40 percent of our nation’s small, rural school districts report that it’s

Senator Smith, Assistant Speaker Clark Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Expand Trauma-Informed Practices in Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) introduced legislation to improve support for youth with the Trauma-Informed Schools Act. The bill would make key federal funding sources available for teachers, staff and after school programs to support trauma-informed practices in school settings. The bill also defines “trauma-informed practices” for the first time in federal education law, ensuring that such practices are evidence-based and help all students. The bill is co-led by Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1). The bill would support positive behavioral interventions,

Klobuchar, Bennet, Slotkin Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Strengthen Media Literacy Education and Improve Personal Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) introduced two pieces of bicameral legislation to strengthen media literacy education to teach Americans the skills to identify online misinformation and disinformation. The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act would create a grant program at the Department of Commerce to teach students digital citizenship and media literacy skills to help them think critically about online content. The Veterans Online Information and Cybersecurity Empowerment (VOICE) Act would create a grant program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to teach veterans digital and media literacy

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