Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a bill in early November that is causing quite a bit of controversy.
The bill proposes that school day hours be lengthened to 6 p.m. Why? To better align with the parents’ work schedule. Essentially, the school day would be extended by three hours and the bill would appoint funds for summer programs and other activities during non-school months.
“Five-year grants of up to $5 million would go to school districts serving a high number of low-income families to push the end of the average school day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in 500 schools. School days typically start at 8 a.m. Teachers and faculty, the bill says, would not have to work additional hours unless they sign up for an extra shift, for which they would be compensated at the rate they get during normal school hours,” reports CNBC.
Harris’ senate office says that the grant money go to activities such as art, music, engineering, athletics, writing, dance, and theater.
The extra time would be solely dedicated to enrichment activities, however, it leaves the problem of scheduling up to the school administration.
The Family Friendly Schools Act is what they are calling this new legislation and it is aimed at helping low-income and working families that cannot afford to pay for childcare. There is often the period of a few hours that a child gets out of school and a parent gets off work that is putting a strain on thousands of households.
“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” Harris said in a press release. “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 child care on working families. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”
During this grant period with 500 schools, Congress will survey parents, teachers, students, and school administrators to determine their satisfaction with the program. After evaluation of the surveys, it will be determined what “best practices” should be established.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average school day currently starts at 8:10 a.m. and lasts for approximately 6.5 hours.
In addition to Harris’ proposal of longer school days to help accommodate the parents’ work schedule, she also states that she would bump the teacher’s average annual salary by $13,500. And Kamala Harris isn’t the only one pushing for change when it comes to education.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a front-runner in the presidential race and she released her plans for educational reform in October of 2019. However, Warren made no mention of the length of the school day. The length of time kids spend in school has recently become a hot topic, some researchers wondering if the school day starts too early.
Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado are all co-sponsoring the bill.
What do you think about the proposed bill? Are there any other options that could be implemented?
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