Senator Kamala Harris of California has introduced a bill that is intended to make school drop-offs and pick-ups easier for parents with 9-to-5 jobs. The "Family Friendly Schools Act" would align the school day with the work day, creating in-school activities that would extend from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"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," the 2020 presidential candidate continued.
Harris said research shows schools are shut down for an average of 29 days — plus the summer break. And because most schools end at 3 p.m. — two hours before the standard work day — many parents are left in a conundrum.
"The Family Friendly Schools Act will create a first-of-its-kind pilot program to give schools resources to stay open during the entire work day throughout the school year," according to the press release. The bill also proposes a more than $1 billion investment in summer learning programs. The proposal will not force teachers to work longer hours or for less pay.
The bill would enable 500 schools to become "Family Friendly Schools" that would align the school day with the work day, and it would provide more funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers to expand access to summer learning opportunities.
In addition to the extended school day, the bill also proposes schools are only closed on federal holidays, weekends and emergencies — and if schools are closed for parent-teacher conferences, professional developments and other reasons, free "enrichment activities" will be offered.
Other sponsors of the bill include former presidential candidate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who dropped out of the race in August. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Michael Bennet — all Democrats — also sponsored the bill.