Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a Democratic presidential contender, introduced a bill that would give incentives to schools to add hours to the school day, making it 10 hours in total.
The bill (pdf) would provide grants to school districts to establish “family friendly school” policies at elementary schools.
The policies would “align the school day with the work day to better support working families,” the bill states. After a trial period, the findings from those schools should be spread to other schools.
The bill also called for establishing “a supplemental 21st century community learning centers grant program to support programs and activities during summer recess when school is not in session.”
Congress found that schools are shut down an average of 29 days throughout the school year, or two weeks longer than the typical American has off with paid holidays and vacation, and that most schools close at or around 3 p.m, or two hours short of the standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday.
Few schools offer before- and after-school care, the bill stated.
“The misalignment of school and work schedules creates a significant strain on working parents and guardians, particularly mothers and Black, Latino, low-income, and single working parents, and those with irregular schedules,” it stated. “Misaligned school schedules cost the United States economy $55,000,000,000 in lost productivity annually. One million women with elementary school aged children work less than full-time because of their caregiving responsibilities.”
A grant of up to five years and $5 million should be awarded to a school to implement the policies, according to the bill.
“An elementary school at which Family Friendly School policies are established shall collaborate with community partners to develop high-quality, culturally relevant, linguistically accessible, developmentally appropriate academic, athletic, extracurricular, enrichment, or community-based learning opportunities, for students from at least 8 am to 6 pm (or different hours if determined appropriate due to the needs of the community) Monday through Friday during the school year,” the bill stated.
The average number of hours in the school day was 6.634, according to a survey in 2007-2008.
Teachers and other staff shouldnt be made to work additional hours if the school day is extended, Harris wrote in her bill, “unless they volunteer to work additional hours,” in which case theyd be paid at least a normal rate of pay.