A U.S. senator proposed on Nov. 6, turning study into a full-time occupation and have students do a minimum of 10 hour shifts each day at school.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) wants students to stay in school from at least 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and do summer “enrichment programs” because it would relieve stress and financial hardship for parents who work full time.
Harris claimed the current school schedule that ends about 3 p.m. was two hours less than the standard full time work day, inconveniencing many working parents.
Harris attacked summer breaks for making it difficult for 75 percent of parents to supervise their children, according to unattributed research obtained by the senator’s office.
She also criticized summer breaks for forcing schools to shut down for about 29 days each year, which is two weeks more than the average American’s total paid leave benefits and usually requires some additional child care or leave without pay.
Harris promised the Family Friendly Schools Act would help relieve the “burden” for working families.
“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,” Harris said in a statement. “It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”
Harris has proposed $1 billion in federal funding for summer learning programs. And adds to that a five-year grant program of up to $5 million to school districts that do not close for parent-teacher conferences, professional development, or any other reason without offering full-day enrichment activities free of charge to students.
The only days an eligible school could close are public holidays, weekends, and emergencies. Teachers will not need to work longer hours or receive less pay.
The U.S. Department of Education will be required to publish and disseminate a report on lessons learned from grant recipients at the end of the period. The report will include approaches schools took to align school and work schedules, student performance, teacher retention, changes in parental employment rates, and results from surveying all affected stakeholders.
The bill is being cosponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Co.).
A variety of industry organizations have supported the bill including the American Federation of Teachers, Center for American Progress, CLASP, EdNavigator, First Focus, Institute for Educational Leadership, Main Street Alliance, National Association of Counties, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Summer Learning Association, National Women’s Law Center, and National League of Cities.