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. A high-quality education system enables people of all ages and from all backgrounds to reach their full potential, support their families with good-paying jobs, and become well informed and engaged citizens. Schools help keep our economy and our communities strong.
That’s why, as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, Sen. Smith helped make all-day kindergarten accessible to every child in Minnesota and expanded early childhood programs. And as Senator, she’s committed to addressing the high cost of higher education and the burden of student debt. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Smith will work on these issues and other priorities for Minnesota’s students and their families.
Sen. Smith believes that every young person has a right to a high-quality K-12 education. That starts with addressing the teacher shortage, particularly in rural areas and in STEM and technical education fields, and ensuring that K-12 teachers have the support they need to be successful in the classroom.
When it comes to higher education, Sen. Smith believes that people should not have to take on excessive amounts of debt to further their education. Yet, the average debt for students graduating from a four-year college in Minnesota is $31,000. That’s not fair to students, and it’s slowing down our economy. It also prevents many low-income and middle class students from even seeking degrees.
But not every person aspires to earn a 4-year degree—nor should they. Sen. Smith believes strongly that we need to increase our investments in Career and Technical Education and vocational training. Not only will this help more young people gain good-paying jobs, it will also help address the “skills gap,” ensuring that employers can find employees with the right training.
Sen. Smith is also committed to addressing the opportunity gaps that prevent too many students from reaching their full potential. And believes that we need to do everything we can to ensure that every student—including LGBTQ youth—feels safe in the classroom. Furthermore, as Minnesota continues to become more diverse, Sen. Smith believes we need to invest in high-quality English Language Learner programs and other initiatives that support new Minnesotans as they become members of our communities.
Finally, Sen. Smith understands that many barriers to education occur outside the classroom. Things like access to childcare, transportation, or housing can impact whether a student is successful in school. And she believes we should support schools in helping more students overcome these barriers.