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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 Announces Passage of Bipartisan Legislation That Will Unlock Major Investments in Nation’s Waterways

Washington D.C. –  Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced the Senate has passed the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, which will unlock and expedite a number of significant projects in Minnesota and across the country. The legislation greenlights investments in the nation’s ports and waterways and includes several priorities Senator Smith has pushed for including Mississippi River protections and Great Lakes coastal resiliency. “Minnesota is blessed with pristine waterways and lakes from Lake Superior to the headwaters of the Mississippi,” said Senator Smith. “This bipartisan legislation will help unlock funding to improve and restore our ports, waterways and ecosystems here in Minnesota and across the country. These water resources are central to our economy and way of life. I’m thrilled to pass this legislation and look forward to seeing these important projects get started.”  WRDA authorizes investments in US Army Corps of Engineers projects and programs around the country and is generally passed every two years. This year, the bill authorizes 36 new feasibility studies, authorizes or modifies 21 projects for construction, and for the first time, authorizes environmental infrastructure projects. WRDA will expedite spending from the Infrastructure Law, which was passed earlier this year, and help jumpstart around $17 billion in significant water resource projects. In a letter to the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Smith pushed for provisions to improve coastal resilience along the Great Lakes and improve the functioning of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minneapolis. Both provisions

Rep. Betty McCollum Wins 9th Annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition

***PHOTO AND VIDEO RELEASE*** WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/09/2018]—Today, Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) hosted the ninth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition. Sen. Smith took up the helm last year to continue the annual hotdish off to determine which Minnesota Congressional Delegation member makes the best hotdish—a dish similar to what other states call a casserole, but is indisputably better. You can download video from the event here and here. Participants’ recipes can be found here. You can find photos of the competition here.   Rep. Betty McCollum’s “Hotdish A-Hmong Friends” was named the winner of the 2019 Hotdish Off after a blind taste

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Bipartisan Bills to Invest in Rural Communities

WASHINGTON D.C. [04/04/2019]— This week, U.S. Senator Tina Smith helped introduce a pair of bipartisan bills to expand investments in rural communities: one designed to help improve rural broadband, and one to improve rural health care.  Sen. Smith has been contacted by several Minnesota cooperatives—which are a vital part of the effort to build out rural broadband in the state—that are at risk of losing their tax-exempt status due to a mistake in the 2017 tax law. The mistake in the 2017 law put the tax-exempt status of co-ops at risk if they receive government grants to expand broadband or

U.S. Sens. Smith, Durbin, King, Sinema Introduce Bill to Help Make College Textbooks More Affordable

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/04/2019]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), introduced legislation that aims to make high-quality textbooks easily accessible and free of charge to students, professors, researchers, and the public. The bill, known as the Affordable College Textbook Act, would make it possible for colleges to create and expand the use of open college textbooks—textbooks that are free and available online. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO 2) introduced a companion bill in the House. According to The College Board, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2017 2018

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads Senate Colleagues in Calling on Secretary DeVos to Further Improve Program that Unfairly Forced Teachers to Pay Thousands of Dollars in Promised Aid

 WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/02/19]—This week, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and her Senate colleagues—including fellow Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)—called on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to take additional action for teachers who erroneously or unfairly had Teacher Education Assistance for College Higher Education (TEACH) grants converted to loans. In December of last year, the Education Department announced it would be instituting a process to help teachers who have been unfairly forced to repay thousands of dollars in aid. Sen. Smith said this was a good first step, but that more action is needed to improve the program. This week, as the