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 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

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Joins Colleagues to Prevent College Students from Being Billed For Textbooks Without Their Consent

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined her colleagues Dick Durbin (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) in sending a letter to the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging him to finalize proposed changes that would make “Inclusive Access” (IA) and “Equitable Access” (EA) programs – models that allow institutions of higher education to automatically charge a student’s federal student aid for textbooks without a student’s consent – into an opt-in program, rather than an opt-out program.  Currently, colleges and universities can partner with textbook publishers like McGraw Hill, Pearson, and Cengage to deliver textbooks digitally, charging students in the process through IA and EA programs. Although IA and EA models are more affordable for students than the sticker price of a new, hardcover textbook, they are often still more expensive than open textbooks, used textbooks or rental options. And while students can opt-out of IA and EA programs, the opt-out process is often difficult to navigate and lacks transparency.  “The Department’s proposed changes to the Cash Management regulations would eliminate an institution’s ability to automatically bill students for books and supplies, effectively shifting the textbook industry’s so-called ‘Inclusive Access’ and ‘Equitable Access’ programs from an opt-out model to an opt-in model.  This would allow students to choose how to spend their financial aid dollars on books and supplies.  It would empower them to take advantage of affordable alternatives, such as used and open textbooks,” the lawmakers wrote. Senator Smith helped introduce the Affordable College Textbook Act and the Open-Textbook Pilot Program. The Pilot is a competitive grant program to support the creation and expansion of open college textbooks

Senators Smith, Grassley Introduce Bipartisan Bills to Help Students Navigate College Costs

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

Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding for Local Projects Benefiting Brainerd and Little Falls

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured significant funding through the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 2023) federal budget for local projects benefiting Brainerd and Little Falls. These projects will support the construction of a new dining facility at the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley training facility and increase access to affordable child care.  “From facility improvements at a key National Guard training center to expanding access to affordable child care, these projects will help address issues impacting Minnesotans on a daily basis. I am proud to have worked with local leaders

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