Democratic presidential hopeful and California Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a bill on Tuesday (November 5) that seeks to extend the length of time elementary school to 6 p.m.
The goal of the “Family Friendly Schools Act” is to alleviate childcare costs for parents who can’t afford them while also helping working families who traditionally work until the evening.
The bill, if passed, would create a pilot program that would distribute up to $5 million in funding to 500 elementary schools over five years to provide “enrichment” activities to students that would go beyond normal school hours. Schools with “the greatest need,” including those whose students have the highest numbers of single parents who work, have two working parents or parents who work irregular hours.
Harris’ bill would also provide an additional $1.3 billion in funding to states to distribute among local groups that provide programs for low-income students.
Following the five-year pilot, the Department of Education would publish a report on what they learned from the program.
“The misalignment between school and work schedules puts working families through unnecessary financial stress ― a burden we know is disproportionately shouldered by Black and Latinx families and families with low incomes,” Catherine Brown, an education expert at the Center for American Progress, said via a release from Harris’ office, according to the Huffington Post.
Harris promoted her bill proposal on Twitter, describing it an opportunity to “give parents more after-school opportunities for their children.”
I was raised by a single mother—I know firsthand how stressful and costly it is to juggle work and school schedules. Justice for students and working families is on the ballot. My Family Friendly Schools Act will give parents more after-school opportunities for their children. pic.twitter.com/1BmAy3e99s— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 6, 2019
Public schools in the United States typically close at around 3 p.m. and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 44 percent of public elementary schools have no formal after-school programs available for students.
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