Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a bill this week that would call for schools to remain open for an additional three hours a day to accommodate working parents.
Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said the Family Friendly Schools Act would “align the school day with the work day to better support working families.”
“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” the California Democrat said in a release on Wednesday. “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.”
Harris noted that most schools are closed for an average 29 days through the school year and most of them shut their doors around 3 p.m. – hours short of the typical full working day of most parents.
She also said schools are closed for two weeks longer than the average American with paid leave has in paid holidays and vacations.
“This places a financial burden on parents and caregivers to either pay for additional childcare or take leave without pay to care for their child,” she said in the statement.
Her legislation would create a pilot program that would provide five-year grants of up to $5 million to 500 elementary schools that mainly teach students in low-income families.
In turn, the schools would have to change their hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and remain open except for federal holidays, weekends and emergencies.
Professional development and parent-teacher conferences would take place while students were in school.
The Education Department would then put together a report on the lessons learned from the pilot schools at the end of the five-year grant period.
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