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Sen. Kamala Harris Introduces Bill Proposing 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Extended School Day

By Jennifer Saylor

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday introduced the Family Friendly Schools Act, first-of-its-kind legislation to align the school day with the work day. “My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” said Senator Harris in a press release. “So, I know firsthand that, 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. My bill provides an innovative solution that will help reduce the burden of child care on working families. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.” Harri's Family Friendly Schools Act would give schools resources to stay open during the entire work day throughout the school year, and to invest over $1 billion in enriching summer learning programs.

According to Harris in a press release, specifically, the legislation will:

Award five-year grants of up to $5 million total to school districts to transform elementary schools serving a high number of low-income families into Family Friendly Schools that.

Collaborate with community partners to develop high-quality, culturally relevant, linguistically accessible, developmentally appropriate academic, athletic, or enrichment opportunities for students from at least 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday during the school year, with no closures except for Federal holidays, weekends, and emergencies.

Does not close for parent-teacher conferences, professional development, or any other reason without offering full-day enrichment activities free of charge for students.

Does not increase the amount of time teachers and staff have to work unless they choose to work additional hours, and are compensated fairly for the additional hours; and Develop and implement evidence-based policies and practices for parent and family engagement to support working families and help better align school and work schedules.Require the Department of Education to publish and disseminate a report on lessons learned from the pilot schools at the end of the five-year grant period, including: Approaches taken by Family Friendly Schools to align school and work schedules; Survey results on parent, teacher, student, school administrator, and community organization satisfaction with Family Friendly Schools;Changes in parental employment rates, student performance, and teacher retention at each Family Friendly School; and Best practices and recommendations for aligning school and work schedules, aligning school schedules and calendars among schools and school districts, and engaging parents and families. Authorize an additional $1.3 billion annually for 21st Century Community Learning Centers to allow up to 1.8 million more children to access summer programming.

The Family Friendly Schools Act received support from the following organizations: 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.

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