Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is introducing a bill that would extend the school day by two hours in order to accommodate working parents, according to Mother Jones.
Harris’ bill would set up a pilot program that provides funds to 500 schools to keep their doors open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. for five years, after which time the program will be evaluated for its effectiveness and potential expansion.
Why does she want to do this? The logic behind the bill is that the standard work day runs until 5 p.m., but the school day ends around 3. That creates difficulties for working parents, especially those with inflexible schedules or a lack of money to pay for after school care — if that’s even available in their community.
She wants kids in the classroom that long? Although the day would be extended, Harris’ plan isn’t calling for schools to have more classroom time than they do now. Instead, the bill would have communities and districts collaborate with the community to find productive ways to use that time. From Mother Jones:
“Schools are to spend the first year surveying parents, teachers, and community members to determine what sort of extended school day would work best for their particular school population.”
How would this get paid for? The program would be funded with federal grant money, and schools would also be required to find other sources to match 10 percent of the grant, as a way to attempt to build financial sustainability into the program over the course of the five-year pilot.
What do teachers think about this? More feedback will certainly come in after the bill is released, but it already has the support of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teachers unions in the country.
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