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.
Senator Tina Smith Introduces Legislation to Ensure Accurate, Thorough Education About Native Peoples
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced significant legislation to improve public education and understanding about Native American peoples and their histories. Accurate, thorough education about Native peoples benefits all students, Native and non-Native alike. Unfortunately, the education most students receive regarding Native histories and cultures is woefully inadequate. For example, nearly half of Americans say that what they were taught in schools about Native Americans was inaccurate and in most K-12 classrooms, students are not taught about Native peoples at all post-1900. Furthermore, teachers rate “history of Native American peoples” and “pre-Columbian American history and culture” as two of the worst subjects in terms of coverage and accuracy. These glaring educational deficiencies allow negative stereotypes and misconceptions to take hold and persist. “It is unacceptable that so many Americans are under- and misinformed about Native peoples and their history,” said Senator Smith. “Teachers and Native groups around the country have been sounding the alarm and pushing for action on this issue for years, and it’s time we listened. This legislation would help develop accurate and thorough curriculum for our schools so that harmful misconceptions and stereotypes do not persist.” Deficiencies in our education system are a top driver of false narratives about Native peoples. Senator Smith’s legislation, the Native Histories and Cultures Education Act, would help states improve primary and secondary education about Native histories and cultures in North America by: This legislation is inspired by the Understand Native Minnesota initiative, led by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux
U.S. Senator Tina Smith Reintroduces Bill to Help Schools Overcome Teacher Shortages in Minnesota, Across the Country
WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.21.23] – This week, 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. Ahead of the 2022- 2023 academic year, 78 percent of schools nationwide found it difficult to find qualified teachers for special education and science, according to surveys of school leaders. There is an urgent need for STEM, career and technical education, and special education teachers. Additionally, there is a severe lack of racial diversity—nationwide teachers of color comprise only 18 percent of the teacher workforce. “I hear from Minnesota school superintendents every summer about the many vacancies they’re struggling to fill, an issue that has only gotten harder in the past few years and is even more challenging in small, rural school districts,” said Sen. Smith. “And it’s especially difficult to hire teachers in key subjects like STEM, technical education and special education. Ultimately, these shortages hurt 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 provide grants to school districts to help them 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: The grant funding would be distributed competitively with at least 25 percent going to
WASHINGTON, D.C. [6.9.23] – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) continued her fight to improve mental health access for students by reintroducing legislation to strengthen school-based mental health services for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The Mental Health Services for Students Act would help schools partner with local mental health providers to establish on-site mental health services for students. It would also provide training for school personnel on how to recognize, assist and refer students who may need mental health support. The legislation is co-led by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Catherine Cortez
Senator Smith, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Address Teacher Shortages in Low-Income Areas and Communities of Color
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) and Haley Stevens (D-MI-11), introduced a bicameral bill that would address severe nationwide shortages of early childhood and K-12 teachers that disproportionately impact students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. Exacerbated by low pay, school leadership instability, and poor teaching conditions, schools in low-income communities struggle to retain experienced, qualified education professionals. On average, teachers are paid 23.5 percent less than other college graduates working in nonteaching fields, and teachers in low-income schools are more underpaid than teachers in more
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) reintroduced the bipartisan Supporting Apprenticeship Colleges Act of 2023 to help increase enrollment in apprenticeship programs. The legislation would provide grant funding to help apprenticeship colleges expand outreach to potential students and employers, improve academic advising programs and address common barriers to degree completion like childcare access and support for first-generation students. Apprenticeship colleges are institutions of higher education that sponsor registered apprenticeship programs. “Apprenticeship programsare a proven and effective way to prepare students for the working world, connect them to good-paying jobs and in-demand careers,” said Senator Smith. “This bill will
Senator Smith Introduces Bill to Provide Financial Stability for College Students Faced With Unexpected Emergencies
Washington [5.1.23] – This week, 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 was introduced