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, Rep. Katherine Clark Reintroduce Legislation to Improve School Climates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA5) reintroduced legislation to improve support for youth in schools. The bill, called the Trauma-Informed Schools Act, would support training for teachers and staff in the development of positive school culture and help schools support young people struggling with adversity. The bill is co-led by Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-IL5) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA1) and Congresswoman Andrea Salinas (D-OR6). “Young students are experiencing unique challenges in school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased social media use, and lack of access to mental health care. More than 1 in 5 young people today struggle with their mental health, and that number is rising. We need to do more to provide them with the support they need to succeed,” said Senator Smith. “I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation, which will help schools address childhood trauma and build positive school cultures so that all students and adults are welcome and supported in school buildings.” “America is in the throes of a mental health crisis, and our kids are experiencing the worst of it,” said Democratic Whip Katherine Clark. “Overcoming this epidemic means equipping our schools with trained, trauma-informed professionals who can help students navigate whatever challenges they may encounter, both in and out of the classroom. The Trauma-Informed Schools Act makes that possible — giving the next generation a fair shot by providing the emotional and social support they need to succeed.” “Trauma is difficult for anyone to process, but for children and teens, it can be especially life-changing and impact their ability to succeed

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Chris Murphy Introduce Bill to Forgive Student Loan Debt for Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women, veteran, and minority farmers. Student loan debt is a major hurdle for beginning farmers, and this legislation would incentivize farmers to enter—and stay—in the agricultural industry, and strengthen opportunities to grow successful businesses. The average age of a farmer in the United States is 58 years old. Smith and Murphy’s legislation will reduce barriers for young, diverse farmers hoping to take over as the current generation of farmers and producers begin to retire. “To keep Minnesota’s agriculture economy thriving, we need to continue to invest in the next generation of farmers as the average age of farmers keeps going up. There is more we can be doing to help future farmers fill their shoes,” said Senator Smith. “Student debt is one of the most significant challenges our young farmers and ranchers face. This legislation would help encourage a younger, more diverse workforce and help more people start and stay in farming.” “Connecticut farmers have always been the lifeblood of our rural communities, but starting and maintaining a new farm is increasingly unaffordable for young people who are often saddled with student loan debt and can’t afford to make additional investments necessary for success. By helping new farmers pay off their student loans, this legislation would pave the

U.S. Senator Smith Joins Colleagues in Bipartisan Push for Clear Guidance on the New Free Applications for Federal Student Aid

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues led by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) in sending a letter urging the Department of Education to provide clear guidance and communication to students, families, educators, and schools leading up to and after the release of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The redesigned FAFSA will make it easier for millions of students to get financial aid and help 1.5 million more students access the maximum Pell Grant award, which is $7,395 for the 2023-24 award year.  While the Department announced earlier in November that

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

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

Senator Tina Smith Continues Fight to Improve Mental Health Services for Students

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

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