(Meredith) - Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., introduced a bill on Wednesday that would keep schools open for an extra three hours to better accommodate parents' work schedules.
Public elementary schools would stay open until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, under the proposed "Family Friendly Schools Act."
The bill would also award five-year grants of up to $5 million to school districts that serve a high number of low-income families. The grant money would fund electives in music, arts, athletics, writing, engineering, and other enrichment activities to help schools fill up the new school day.
Harris said in a press release that current school schedules often make life harder for working families and leave parents in a bind to find child care. Most U.S. schools close at or around 3 p.m.
“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” she said. “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 childcare on working families," Harris continued. "It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”
The bill would also invest over $1 billion in enriching summer learning programs, without forcing teachers to work longer hours or for less pay.
In addition to Harris, the bill is sponsored by Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Michael Bennet of Colorado.