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.
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 Masto (D-NV), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Alex Padilla (D-CA). “Providing mental health services health to students at school—where they spend a significant portion of their time—helps them thrive,” said Senator Smith. “It removes many barriers to access, such as trying to figure out how to leave school in the middle of the day, and promotes behavioral health equity.” “Kids spend most of their week at school, so it’s not surprising that their teachers are often the first to recognize they might be struggling,” said Senator Murphy. “This legislation would give schools the resources they need to identify students going through a tough time and connect them to the care they need. The alarms about the youth mental health crisis have been sounding for a very long time, and we need to continue investing in the solutions we know work.” “Nevada
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), along with U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO-02) introduced bicameral legislation designed to help students manage costs by making high quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors, and the public for free. The Affordable College Textbook Act would authorize a competitive grant program to support the creation of and expansion of open college textbooks—textbooks that are available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access the materials. “Textbooks are a key part of a college education – but for
WASHINGTON [2.27.23] – Today, Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) reintroduced three bipartisan bills to help students and families make informed decisions about borrowing for college. The bills ensure that students get the full picture when choosing a college and taking out loans. From the initial college search, to the acceptance of financial aid, to counseling once in college, the bills would help college students avoid sticker shock, find the best college for their budget and avoid taking out ill-advised and oversized loans. In December 2022, the Government Accountability Office issued an alarming report, finding that colleges are misleading
Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding to Boost Manufacturing and Transportation Workforce in Southern Minnesota
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured more than $1.9 million in federal funding through the Fiscal Year 2023 federal budget to boost the manufacturing and transportation workforce in Southern Minnesota. Specifically, these resources will support Riverland Community College’s Workforce Development Learn and Earn scholarship program. This initiative enables students to participate in manufacturing and transportation programs to prepare them for careers as high-skilled technicians. “Our manufacturing and transportation sectors are key to the economic success of communities across Southern Minnesota. By allowing more people to enroll in Riverland Community College’s
Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding to Improve Access to Affordable Child Care in Luverne
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured more than $2.6 million in federal funding through the Fiscal Year 2023 budget to improve access to affordable child care in Luverne. Specifically, the resources will enable the renovation, construction, and furnishing of a new child care facility to serve families in Luverne and surrounding communities. “The struggle to find high-quality, affordable child care is a challenge for far too many parents in Luverne and across our state,” said Klobuchar. “By providing funding to build a new childcare facility, this project will help increase access to affordable