Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is proposing extending the school day to 6pm in an effort to align the schedules of students and their working parents.
The California senator plans to release a bill Wednesday asserting that “aligning school and work schedules is an economic growth and child development strategy.”
A test run of the program will provide up to $5 million dollars each over five years to 500 schools attended mostly by children from low-income families, funding that will help the schools experiment with a longer schedule that matches up with the typical workday. Weekends, federal holidays, and emergencies would be the only days schools would not be open to students.
Schools would be entrusted with providing a full day of “high-quality, culturally relevant, linguistically accessible, developmentally appropriate academic, athletic, or enrichment opportunities for students.”
At the close of the test run, the Education Department would issue a report on the results, including student performance, changes in parental employment, and teacher retention rates. The program would then be evaluated for expanded implementation.
The schools must also convince a second non-federal entity to match 10 percent of their federal grant, an insurance policy for when their federal grant funding ends.
“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” Harris said. “So, I know firsthand that, for many working parents, juggling between school schedules and work schedule is a common cause of stress and financial hardship. But, this does not have to be the case.”
The proposal, which comes as teachers around the country strike for higher pay, is supported by the major teachers union the American Federation of Teachers, which stated the bill would make sure “teachers and paraprofessionals aren’t filling in the gaps without respect and fair compensation.”