Sen. Kamala Harris' Proposal Aims to Extend School Days by 3 Hours

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The final school bell would toll at 6 p.m. under a bill introduced by presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris.

Harris introduced a bill on Wednesday that’s meant to better align the school day with working parents’ schedules.

The bill extends the school day by an average of three hours and would create summer programs and activities when school is not in session. In a press release, Harris said the average school lets out at 3 p.m.

The bill would first target 500 schools across the country through five-year grants of up to $5 million for elementary schools in districts that serve a high number of low-income families. The grant money would go to extracurricular activities such as music, arts, and athletics.

Harris said the school day ending prior to guardians’ work schedule disproportionately affects working and low-income households. In a release Harris pointed to schools being closed, on average, two weeks longer than the typical American has in paid leave. Beyond that, 39 percent of all workers, and 80 percent of low-wage workers, don’t have access to any paid vacation time.

“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.”

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The proposal would also require the Department of Education to publish and disseminate a report from the pilot schools at the end of the five-year grant period.

Despite elongating the day, the bill doesn’t require teachers of faculty to work extra hours.

In addition to the grants, the bill also would authorize an additional $1.3 billion annually for 21st Century Community Learning Centers that would allow up to 1.8 million more children to access summer programming.

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