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. 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 Tina Smith Joins Colleagues to Reintroduce Bill to Help Educate Americans about the Effects of Climate Change

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined her colleagues in introducing legislation that would support a variety of programs nationwide to help Americans better understand what climate change will mean for our everyday lives—things like including information about climate change in school science curricula and public education campaigns. The bill, called the Climate Change Education Act, would establish a Climate Change Education Program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide grants and technical assistance to state and local education agencies, institutions of higher learning, professional associations and academic societies, and youth corps organizations. “Climate change is happening, and we cannot ignore it,” said Senator Smith. “We need to be doing everything we can to combat climate change, and that includes comprehensive education about its impacts. Investing in our future and working against climate change will improve our health, create better jobs, and ensure that people are prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world.” The Climate Change Education Act would support climate literacy by authorizing $50 million per year between fiscal years 2025 and 2030 for grants and cooperative agreements between NOAA and education entities. In line with the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative, the bill stipulates that 40 percent of the funds for higher education institutions and youth corps organizations would be directed to environmental justice communities.   The bill was led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Bob

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

Senator Tina Smith Introduces Bicameral Bill to Support Apprenticeship Colleges

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

Senator Smith, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Help Make College Textbooks More Affordable

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

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