Sen. Kamala Harris seeks to correct mismatched school, work schedules

SUMMARY

  • An article from Mother Jones details the issues that currently exist in American school and work schedules, and Harris’s plan to resolve the issue. Most school days end around 3 p.m., a full two hours before the end of workdays for approximately 70 percent of parents. Most schools entirely lack a way to make up the difference in that two hours. In addition, schools close an average of 29 days during the school year for holidays, parent-teacher conferences and professional development, which is more than two weeks longer than what the average parent gets for paid vacation and holiday leave.

  • Harris’s plan features “a pilot program that gives money to 500 schools that serve a high proportion of low-income families teo develop a school schedule that better matches the work schedule.” Each of these schools would get $5 million over five years to be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with closures only on weekends, federal holidays and emergencies. Any conferences or professional development would have to happen alongside a full day of enrichment activities. 

  • Schools will be encouraged to collaborate with partners in their community to create accessible, relevant and appropriate enrichment opportunities, both athletic and academic, for their students. The bill would also require schools to find private or non-federal funding sources to match 10 percent of federal grant money, which will help the programs remain sustainable.

INSIGHT

This is the most all-encompassing proposal we’ve seen so far that would significantly alter school schedules and create more built-in opportunities for afterschool (and day-long) enrichment. Numerous studies have shown the importance of keeping kids involved in a structured, supervised environment in the afterschool hours to improve their school performance, keep them out of trouble and give them positive social opportunities. Having greater federal investment in afterschool enrichment would be a promising proposal.

It remains to be seen whether or not the bill will ever actually go into action, but these are the kinds of issues that need to be discussed in the world of education. Children need more opportunities to get plugged in and invested in their education, especially while their parents are still at work. 

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