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 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 eligibility for this program. This new, simplified eligibility is a great move that will allow more families to benefit from high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education.” “The Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement that they will add SNAP to the categorical eligibility list for Early Head Start and Head Start will allow families much easier access to programs in the state of Minnesota and across the nation,” said Kraig Gratke, Executive Director of the Minnesota Head Start Association. “Programs that we know serve the highest risk population with services that stabilize families and get children ready for school and to be lifelong learners.  When I shared the announcement with programs there was an immediate response of gratitude for those that did the work to make this happen, excitement over streamlining the Head Start enrollment process for families, and one of promise for those families who are now eligible

U.S. Senators Tina Smith & John Thune’s Bill to Provide Financial Stability for Federally Impacted School Districts During COVID-19 Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON, [1.21.22] – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and John Thune’s (R-S.D.) bipartisan legislation to help federally connected schools retain funding during the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law by President Biden. Smith and Thune’s Supplemental Impact Aid Flexibility Act will allow school districts participating in the Impact Aid Program to use previously reported student headcounts on their Impact Aid applications for the 2022-2023 school year, ensuring that they do not need to recalculate federally connected students due to prolonged uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As the pandemic continues to hit many Minnesota school districts hard, it’s important

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown Press Largest Managers of Online Degree Programs to Answer for Concerning Business Practices

WASHINGTON, [1.18.22] – United States Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote to the eight largest Online Program Management (OPM) companies — 2U, Academic Partnerships, Pearson, Wiley, Bisk, Kaplan, Grand Canyon, and Zovio — that administer online degree programs for many colleges and universities, raising concerns about their business practices and tuition-sharing arrangements that incentivize aggressive recruitment tactics and may be contributing to rising student debt loads.  “We continue to have concerns about the impact of OPM partnerships on rising student debt loads. The responses to our previous letters confirmed that OPMs often have tuition-sharing

U.S. Senators Tina Smith & John Thune’s Bill for Continued School Funding During COVID-19 Passes the Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/14/21]—Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and John Thune’s (R-S.D.) bipartisan legislation to help schools retain federal funding during the COVID-19 pandemic passed in the Senate. Smith and Thune’s Supplemental Impact Aid Flexibility Act will allow school districts participating in the Impact Aid Program to use previously reported student headcounts on their Impact Aid applications for the 2022-2023 school year, ensuring that they do not need to recalculate federally connected students due to prolonged uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As the pandemic continues to hit many Minnesota school districts hard, it’s important that districts receiving Impact Aid

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads Senate Push to Preserve Special Education Funding Increases for Schools in Minnesota and Across the Country

WASHINGTON, D.C [11/16/21]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) pressed top Senate Appropriators to continue the recent increases in special education funding that have been critically important in helping educate students with disabilities in Minnesota and across the country. In a letter Tuesday, Sen. Smith, led a group of 12 key Senators in pressing Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Vice Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) to maintain the $2.6 billion increase in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding proposed in both the House and Senate, as they work on end-of-the-year funding bills.  The preservation of the increased IDEA funding

en_USEnglish