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 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 difficult to hire the teachers they need,” said Sen. Smith. “And it’s especially difficult to hire teachers in subjects like STEM, career and technical education and special education. Ultimately, these shortages harm our kids and diminish their opportunities. My bill will help schools overcome these challenges and help ensure students get the best education possible.” Sen. Smith’s bill—the Addressing Teacher Shortages Act—would allow school districts across the country to apply for grants to help them to attract and retain the quality teachers they need. The bill would also fund U.S. Department of Education efforts to help smaller and under-resourced districts apply for grants. Funding under the grant program could be used to establish or expand: teaching residency programs teacher mentor programs “Grow Your Own” programs to ease teacher staffing shortages and increase workforce diversity by tapping staff already working in school buildings to become teachers “2+2” programs to provide flexible pathways for students to obtain a bachelor’s degree programs at an institution of higher education that encourage

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, efforts to build strong school-wide cultures of trust, acceptance and connectedness, and students’ social-emotional skill development and overall well-being.   “Young students have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing loved ones and valuable classroom time to the virus. We need to do more to provide them the mental health support they need,” said Sen Smith. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation, which will expand trauma-informed practices and positive behavioral interventions in school so that students who are struggling with their mental health can get the support they need to succeed.” “Our students’ success in school is about more than just test scores – they need the social and emotional support of properly trained educators to navigate incidences of trauma and stress,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important that we invest directly in the mental health of our students and

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

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

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

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

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