Kamala Harris Proposes to ‘Modernize’ School Day by Extending Hours to 6 p.m.

FORT DODGE, IOWA - AUGUST 09: Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a Teacher Pay Roundtable at Fort Dodge Middle School on August 09, 2019 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Kamala Harris is on a five day river-to-river bus tour across Iowa promoting her "3AM Agenda" to …
Justin Sullivan/Getty

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is proposing to extend existing school days to 6 p.m. in order to better match up with the average adult’s workweek, Mother Jones reports.

Harris is reportedly unveiling a bill on Wednesday that would, as Mother Jones describes, “modernize” school hours by extending them to better coincide with the average working hours of adults.

While most schools tend to end around 3 p.m., many parents work hours beyond that. In the bigger picture, schools close down for various reasons throughout the academic year, on average for “29 days,” according to the outlet. That, along with summer vacation, “leaves working parents scrambling for day-long care.”

Harris aims to address those discrepancies, in part, by extending the length of the average school day, beginning with a pilot program that “gives money to 500 schools that serve a high proportion of low-income families to develop a school schedule that better matches the work schedule.”

“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” Harris said, according to the outlet.

“So, I know firsthand that, for many working parents, juggling between school schedules and work schedule is a common cause of stress and financial hardship. But, this does not have to be the case,” she added.

Mother Jones reports:

Each recipient school would receive up to $5 million dollars over five years to keep their doors open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no closures except for weekends, federal holidays, and emergencies. Professional development, parent-teacher conferences, and the like would have to happen, at minimum, alongside a full day of enrichment activities. At the end of the five years, the Education Department would publish a report documenting the best practices, as well as changes in parental employment, student performance, and teacher retention rates to be used to inform a future broader program

Harris’s proposal does not outline a specific structure that the school is to abide by in its extended hours, simply calling for “high-quality, culturally relevant, linguistically accessible, developmentally appropriate academic, athletic, or enrichment opportunities for students.”

The lack of specifics is deliberate, designed to encourage schools to develop a program that works best for their communities.

More via Mother Jones:

The bill would also require the school to find a private or non-federal public funding source, such as state grants or philanthropy organizations, to match 10 percent of the federal grant money, a stipulation intended to help the programs remain sustainable after the initial grant money has run out. The matches can be money or an in-kind contribution

While Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have proposed universal childcare and pre-k as part of their presidential platforms, Harris appears to be the first to center a bill around extended school hours.

A handful of senators, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are co-sponsoring the bill.

“Of her fellow Senate Democrats who are also seeking the presidency—Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sanders, and Warren—only Bennet has signed on,” Mother Jones reports.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.