Parents spend thousands of dollars each school year in after-care expenses. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has proposed a bill that hopes to change this.
Harris’ proposal would extend the school day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is several hours longer than a typical school day. The plan also calls for schools to only close for weekends, federal holidays and emergencies, in addition to the summers off. Her rationale is that “aligning school and work schedules is an economic growth and child development strategy,” according to Working Mother.
Mother Jones reports the additional hours would not mean teachers would be mandated to instruct for longer periods or that students would be seated at their desks for longer periods. Staffers, however, would likely have to work more, and would be paid accordingly.
Harris said if the bill passes, it would first start as a pilot program in roughly 500 schools nationwide. Schools with a high percentage of low-income families would most likely be the first to participate in the pilot initiative. Participating schools would be eligible to receive up to $5 million over a five-year time period. After the pilot concludes, the Education Department would be tasked with putting together a report that analyzes student performance, teacher retention and parental employment, Working Mother reports.
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The bill would also require schools to secure grants and other private funding sources that could match 10 percent of the federal grant. This would be key for the idea to work in the long-term.
The bill lacks details, as Harris wants to give schools the purview to shape it in the way that works best for their school. If the bill passes, schools would be asked to fine-tune the particulars by requesting that parents, teachers and other community leaders participate in surveys after the first year to find the best approach for their school.
We will be paying attention to see how this develops, but applaud Harris for thinking of plans to help working parents.