LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – To correct what she termed a “misalignment,” Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a bill Wednesday which would test a pilot program that would push the school day to 6 p.m. in an effort to help working parents.
The Family Friendly Schools Act would keep schools open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in order to “align the school day with the work day to better support working families,” according to the California Democratic senator and presidential candidate.
While most schools let out around 3 p.m., the bill would not ask teachers to work a longer day. Instead, schools would be required to develop programs for students through 6 p.m. every weekday except for federal holidays and emergencies. The schools would also be open those same hours during the summer months.
Furthermore, under the bill, schools would not close to students for parent-teacher conferences or professional development.
“With the vast majority of schools closing at or around 3 pm, two hours short of the standard full-time work day, parents are often left in a bind,” Harris’ office said in a news release. “Additionally, summer breaks present a challenge; in fact, three in four parents report at least some difficulty finding child care during that time period.”
If approved, the bill will award up to $5 million in grants so elementary schools in low-income communities can test out the pilot program.
Last month, California became the first state in the nation to pass a law mandating later start times at public schools. The new law requires middle schools to start after 8 a.m. and high schools to start after 8:30 a.m. Parents have long advocated a later start time to help with commutes and students who have a lot of homework at night.
Along with Harris, the bill is sponsored by fellow Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Richard Blumenthal, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Michael Bennet. To read the full bill, click here.