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

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 Minneapolis College to access convenient child care services, allowing them to continue their education and providing their children with the foundational care they need.” “Parents in Minnesota tell me all the time how limiting a lack of affordable childcare can be.  I’ve heard from families who have to drive 50 miles to take their kids to childcare, and others who are paying almost one-third of their income toward the cost of childcare for just one kid,” said Sen. Smith. “A lack of affordable childcare should not be a barrier for parents who want to go back to school.  This funding for campus-based childcare programs will go a long ways towards supporting student parents enrolled at St. Cloud State and MCTC.” The funding was made available through the Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Program, which provides grants to support the participation of low-income parents in

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

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

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Extend Student Loan Payment Pause, and Ultimately Cancel Student Debt

Washington, D.C. – United States Tina Smith (D-Minn.) joined nearly 100 members of Congress in a letter to President Biden urging the administration to extend the pause on federally held student loan payments until at least the end of the year, and urged the administration to provide meaningful student debt cancellation. “Given the fast-approaching deadline for borrowers to resume payments, your administration must act as quickly as possible to extend the pause and make clear to the American public your intention to cancel a meaningful amount of student debt. We look forward to supporting your administration in getting it done,”

Sen. Smith Introduces Bill to Provide Financial Stability for College Students Faced with Unexpected Emergencies

WASHINGTON [3.11.22] – Yesterday, 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 is co-sponsored by

en_USEnglish