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

Sen. Smith Introduces Bill to Provide Financial Stability for College Students Faced with Unexpected Emergencies

WASHINGTON [3.11.22] – Yesterday, 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 is co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). “The cost of college is a precarious balancing act for many students, and that’s when everything is going ‘right,’” said Senator Smith. “This bill would help provide financial stability for students facing a death in the family, steep medical bill, or any number of unexpected emergencies that too often force them to drop out of school.” “Every American deserves the opportunity to pursue higher education. But for far too many students, an unexpected financial emergency can make it difficult for them to stay enrolled in school,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will give students the financial security they need to weather these unanticipated emergency costs and continue advancing their education.” “Too often, students pursuing education and training beyond high school are forced to choose between continuing their education and paying for unexpected financial needs,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation would provide support

U.S. Sens. Smith, Durbin, King, Sinema, Rep. Neguse Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Help Make College Textbooks More Affordable

WASHINGTON, D.C. [03/10/22]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senators Angus King (I-ME), Kyrsten Sinema (D-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 legislation, known as the Affordable College Textbook Act, would authorize a competitive grant program to support the creation of and expand the use of open college textbooks—textbooks that are available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers, and others to freely access the materials.  Textbook costs are one of the most overlooked costs of going to college, but they can be substantial and can be a barrier to attaining a college education. According to The College Board, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2021-2022 academic year was $1,240 at four-year public institutions.  According to a survey by U.S. PIRG, 65 percent of students decided not to buy a textbook because of the cost and 94 percent of those students worried it would negatively affect their grade.  Senator Smith has spoken with students across Minnesota who shared stories of going without textbooks or sharing textbooks with friends and classmates as a way to lower costs. “Textbooks are a key part of a college education – but for too many students, their cost is exorbitant and a real strain on their budgets,” said Sen. Smith. “In Minnesota, we’ve seen how free, online textbooks can make a huge difference. Many Minnesota students have

U. S. Senators Tina Smith & Susan Collins Secure Passage of Resolution Recognizing the Importance of School Principals to Students’ Success

WASHINGTON, D.C. [11/19/20]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) recently secured passage of their bipartisan resolution honoring principals and recognizing the contributions they make to helping students succeed. “Principals work with educators to create school communities where students can learn and thrive,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “I’m glad we can honor them in this way, and recognize how principals are so critical to the success of students and schools in Minnesota and across the country.” “Principals in Maine and across the country have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic, working

U.S. Senator Tina Smith’s Legislation to Improve Mental Health Services for Children, Families Passes Senate with Broad Bipartisan Support

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2020 Contact: Katie McElrath katie_mcelrath@smith.senate.gov 202-365-5865 WASHINGTON, D.C. [9/23/20]–U.S. Senator Tina Smith’s (D-Minn.) priorities to make sure the child welfare system supports and connects families to mental health services recently passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support. The Supporting Family Mental Health in CAPTA Act would improve the delivery of mental health services for children and families, connect families with needed support services, support research on effective practices to prevent child abuse and neglect and address disparities in the child welfare system.  Sen. Smith says that young people experience mental health conditions about as often as adults—about 1 in 5 struggle with

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Elizabeth Warren Call on Agencies to Provide “Complete, Transparent, and Timely National Reporting of COVID-19 Cases” in K-12 Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. [10/30/2020]—U.S Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), are pressing the nation’s top health and education officials to issue detailed guidance so that the nation’s elementary and secondary schools can work with state and local officials to ensure complete, transparent and timely reporting of COVID-19 cases. In their letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, the Senators also urged the agencies to study outbreaks in K-12 schools to understand the effectiveness of different mitigation strategies and to provide further guidance on reporting COVID-19 cases.  “On October 20, Secretary of Education Betsy

Murkowski, Smith Introduce Bill to Extend Important Flexibility and Funding to After School Programs

For Immediate Release: October 28, 2020 Contact:  Karina Borger (Murkowski) 202-224-9301 Katie McElrath (Smith) 202-365-5865 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program provides competitive grants to school districts, community based organizations, Indian tribes, and tribal organizations that provide supplemental academic and enrichment activities for students during non-school hours or periods when schools are not in session. The value of 21st CCLC-funded afterschool programs is well-established, ensuring children have an opportunity to access engaging learning activities while giving working parents peace of mind that their kids are safe when school is out. Unfortunately, 21st CCLC programs have been limited

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