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 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

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar Announce STEM Education Funding for Minnesota Tribal Colleges and Universities

WASHINGTON [2/14/2024] – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs and Education Committees, and Amy Klobuchar (both D-Minn.) announced funding for White Earth Tribal and Community College and Red Lake Nation College to expand their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. The funding comes from the National Science Foundation and is part of a larger project to promote education and careers in STEM for Indigenous students. “STEM education has never been more important as the demand for STEM-trained employees has soared,” said Senator Smith. “This funding will provide accessible pathways for Native students to pursue higher education and serve their communities – all while integrating Tribal cultural heritage and roots into their curriculum.” “Expanding higher education offerings can be a real game changer for students,” said Senator Klobuchar. “These National Science Foundation awards will open doors for White Earth Tribal and Community College and Red Lake Nation College students to learn essential skills for in-demand careers while ensuring Ojibwe language and culture remain key components of their education.” White Earth Tribal and Community College was awarded $2,500,000 to begin offering an associate’s degree in natural sciences, with coursework including biology, chemistry and physics. Having this coursework available to White Earth students will help graduates access good jobs and further education in high-demand fields such as health sciences.  Red Lake Nation College will use their $2,500,000 in funding to expand curriculum in social and behavioral sciences, with coursework rooted in the Ojibwe language and culture. Given the high demand in Tribal areas for workers in social services, this program will strengthen the talent pipeline for graduates to fill that need.  Senator Smith has long been a lead advocate for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).  In addition to

Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding for Local Projects Benefiting Iron Range

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured significant federal funding for local projects benefiting communities on the Iron Range. These projects will help strengthen emergency services infrastructure, expand access to affordable child care, and enable key infrastructure improvements.  “This federal funding will have a real impact for communities across the Iron Range. From investing in emergency response services and improving water infrastructure to increasing access to affordable child care, these projects will address key issues impacting Minnesotans on a daily basis. I am proud to have worked with leaders from across

Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding For Projects Benefiting Moorhead and Surrounding Areas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured significant federal funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 federal budget to support local projects benefiting Moorhead and surrounding areas. These projects will help boost entrepreneurship, mitigate flooding in the Red River, increase access to affordable child care and expand economic opportunities for veterans, servicemembers and their families.  “From support for small businesses and flood prevention infrastructure in the Red River Valley to increasing affordable child care access and providing career pathways for veterans and service members, these projects will help address key issues

Klobuchar, Smith Secure Federal Funding for Projects Benefiting Twin Cities and Surrounding Areas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured significant federal funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 federal budget to support local projects benefiting the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. These projects will bolster the region’s infrastructure, help expand health care access and upgrade health care facilities, address affordable housing needs, and improve public safety.  “From making infrastructure improvements to expanding access to health care and affordable housing, these projects will help address key issues impacting Minnesotans on a daily basis. I am proud to have worked with local leaders to secure

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Reintroduces Bill to Forgive Student Loan Debt for Beginning Farmers

WASHINGTON [12/20/22] – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, helped reintroduce legislation she co-sponsors to create a loan forgiveness program for beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women, veteran, and minority farmers. The Student Loan Forgiveness for Farmers and Ranchers Act, which is led by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and also cosponsored by Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), would serve as an incentive for farmers to enter – and stay – in the agricultural industry and boost opportunities to grow successful businesses. “Agriculture is the backbone of Minnesota’s diverse

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