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Harris proposes keeping schools open for 10 hours a day

Harris proposes keeping schools open for 10 hours a day
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Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Vice President Harris receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine MORE (D-Calif.) introduced legislation Wednesday that would keep public elementary schools open for 10 hours a day, a move that would more closely align with the workday. 

Harris, a presidential candidate, introduced the Family Friendly Schools Act to create a pilot program to give schools funds to stay open during the entire workday throughout the school year, as well as to invest over $1 billion to boost summer learning programs.

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“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” said Harris. “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 legislation seeks to award five-year grants of up to $5 million total to school districts to keep elementary school doors open from at least 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday during the school year. The plan would also push the schools to remain open for parent-teacher conferences but not increase the amount of time teachers and staff have to work unless they ask.

The bill would also require the Department of Education to publish a report on its conclusions from schools affected by the pilot program after the five-year grant period.

Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Biden lifts Trump's transgender military ban | Democrats, advocates celebrate end of ban | 5,000 guardsmen staying in DC through mid-March Democrats torn on impeachment trial timing OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: 12 removed from National Guard inauguration security | Austin backs lifting transgender ban MORE (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyBiden expands on Obama ethics pledge Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (D-Ore.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownFinancial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief Portman planned exit sets off Ohio free-for-all Portman won't run for reelection MORE (D-Ohio) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command Colorado delegation wants Biden to stop Space Command move to Alabama The Economist hires former NYT editor who resigned following Cotton editorial MORE (D-Colo.) are co-sponsoring the legislation. 

Harris rolled out support for the bill from several education advocacy organizations.

“By investing in before, and after school programming, summer enrichment and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, this legislation addresses a chronic and long-neglected problem: too many working parents can’t access affordable care for their kids during the workday,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. 

“Roughly one million mothers of elementary school children cut their hours at work because of a lack of affordable child care. This bill would enable school districts and communities to find solutions that work for them, and would make sure teachers and paraprofessionals aren’t filling in the gaps without respect and fair compensation.”

While education has not been one of the most prominent issues in the 2020 primary, several candidates have unveiled their own plans to overhaul the public education system.

Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWhat the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Business groups prepare for lobbying push against minimum wage Schumer: Senate could pave way for reconciliation on COVID relief next week MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief Tim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat MORE (D-Mass.), two other White House contenders, have advocated for a “community school” model to extend the time schools are open and provide social services such as health and dental care. Sanders’s plan calls for $5 billion in funding each year to support such schools, while Warren’s plan vows to transition 25,000 schools to that model by 2030.