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 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

Senator Smith, Assistant Speaker Clark Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Expand Trauma-Informed Practices in Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) introduced legislation to improve support for youth with the Trauma-Informed Schools Act. The bill would make key federal funding sources available for teachers, staff and after school programs to support trauma-informed practices in school settings. The bill also defines “trauma-informed practices” for the first time in federal education law, ensuring that such practices are evidence-based and help all students. The bill is co-led by Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1). The bill would support positive behavioral interventions, efforts to build strong school-wide cultures of trust, acceptance and connectedness, and students’ social-emotional skill development and overall well-being.   “Young students have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing loved ones and valuable classroom time to the virus. We need to do more to provide them the mental health support they need,” said Sen Smith. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation, which will expand trauma-informed practices and positive behavioral interventions in school so that students who are struggling with their mental health can get the support they need to succeed.” “Our students’ success in school is about more than just test scores – they need the social and emotional support of properly trained educators to navigate incidences of trauma and stress,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important that we invest directly in the mental health of our students and

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

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads Push To Ensure Historic Investment In Childcare, Universal Pre-K as Part of Build Back Better Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. [10/25/21]— U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn) said today that after 18 months of a devastating pandemic, historic investments in childcare and universal pre-kindergarten education will be necessary to help working families – especially women – return to the workforce, a key element in getting businesses and the economy back on track.    In a letter Friday, Sen. Smith led a group of 15 key Senators in pressing President Biden and Congressional leaders to include $450 billion in the Build Back Better budget package now being negotiated for both childcare and universal pre-k. “Our economy will not work, nor

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Chris Van Hollen Introduce Legislation to Relieve Families from Private Student Loans Upon Death of Student

WASHINGTON, D.C. [8/3/21]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced legislation to release cosigners of private student loan obligations in the event of a student borrower’s death. U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D- MN 2) authored this bill in the House, which passed as part of a comprehensive debt reform package on May 13.  Right now, federal law only releases cosigners from private student loans for late students if their loans were made after November 20, 2018. Families who cosigned on their lost loved one’s private student loan prior to this date are currently provided no protection or relief under federal law—and find themselves at the mercy and discretion of individual private student loan

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