Senator Proposes Longer School Days

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. Harris recently introduced a bill to extend school days up to three hours for working parents.

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. Harris recently introduced a bill to extend school days up to three hours for working parents.

Camila Lazaro

Kamala Harris, a U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate wants to extend school for three more hours. Senator Harris said in a statement, “My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours 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.”

Kamala Harris introduced a bill to extend America’s school days by three hours from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. Harris explained that this accommodation will help parents align their work schedule to their children’s school schedule. According to CNN, the bill proposed a pilot program that would give 500 schools serving mainly low-income families a five -year grant of up to $5 million to lengthen the school day and $1.3 million annually to allow more children access to summer programming.

In a press release, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Catherine Brown said, “The misalignment between school and work schedules puts working families through unnecessary financial stress.”

According to CNN, seventy percent of parents’ work schedules end hours after their children’s school day at 3 p.m. The extended hours will help parents who struggle finding child care between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., according to the bill. “My bill provides an innovative solution that will help reduce the burden of child care on working families,” said Harris “It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.” According to CNBC, Congress will have a survey that parents, teachers, school administrators, and students will take to determine the satisfaction with program and come up with “best practices.”

The bill proposes that the grant money go to extracurricular activities like electives in “music, arts, athletics, writing and engineering,” said Harris, according to CNBC.

During the extended hours the school will be allowed to provide athletic, academic and enrichment opportunities to students. Also, according to Harris, the bill will allow for child care during parent teacher conference and professional development days, and other days where no classes are held. Teachers and staff would not require to work during the 3 more hours of school, but if they do, they would be  compensated fairly for the number of hours they choose to work from the extended hours. Harris said that she will bump the average teacher salary up by $13,500, according to CNBC. Harris says America’s teachers are drastically underpaid and they deserve a raise.

 

Many people will have opinions about this school change, especially students and teachers. Ms. Evelyn Edge, a chemistry teacher at Round Lake High School, said “I do not think students should go to school from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. because you will eliminate any mental recovery time from the stress of school…I think if you went to a 12-hour-day school system, I think that the makeup of it will have to be very unique. I think you will have to implement mental breaks during the day. I also think that it will become an issue of extra lunches and breakfasts and dinners.”

Mrs. Vicki Ward, a math teacher at RLHS agrees. “I think that’s a very, very long time to be at school so that concerns me a little bit. I like the idea of having more time to do different types of programs with students if they were here from 8 to 6 p.m you could be more creative and flexible with your grouping and your classes.” Ward also worries how the schedule would affect teachers who chose to participate in the extended hours, or if many teachers would opt for working until 6 p.m. when they have children at home. “I have 2 little girls,” she said. “I mean we start putting them to bed at 7:30, so all of a sudden you have no time to do anything which is kind of sad. I guess I have a lot of mixed feelings about it, I can see some good things and some bad things about it.”