Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has now proposed a 10-hour school day, which could give children more time in the classroom than with their parents.
According to The Hill, Harris’ Family Friendly Schools Act would create a “pilot program to give schools funds to stay open during the entire workday throughout the school year, as well as to invest over $1 billion to boost summer learning programs.”
Harris said that the Act would lift the burden off parents who have to juggle between a working schedule and taking care of children.
“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” said Harris. “So, I know firsthand that, for many working parents, juggling between school schedules and work schedules is a common cause of stress and financial hardship. But, this does not have to be the case. My bill provides an innovative solution that will help reduce the burden of childcare on working families. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, hailed the bill for addressing a real and persistent problem for working parents.
“By investing in before, and after school programming, summer enrichment and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, this legislation addresses a chronic and long-neglected problem: too many working parents can’t access affordable care for their kids during the workday,” said Weingarten. “Roughly one million mothers of elementary school children cut their hours at work because of a lack of affordable child care. This bill would enable school districts and communities to find solutions that work for them, and would make sure teachers and paraprofessionals aren’t filling in the gaps without respect and fair compensation.”
The left-leaning site Mother Jones described the bill in further detail:
Her plan: A pilot program that gives money to 500 schools that serve a high proportion of low-income families to develop a school schedule that better matches the work schedule. Each recipient school would receive up to $5 million dollars over five years to keep their doors open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no closures except for weekends, federal holidays, and emergencies. Professional development, parent-teacher conferences, and the like would have to happen, at minimum, alongside a full day of enrichment activities. At the end of the five years, the Education Department would publish a report documenting the best practices, as well as changes in parental employment, student performance, and teacher retention rates to be used to inform a future broader program.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).