Bill to Extend After-School Activities

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Bill to Extend After-School Activities

John Locher/AP Images

John Locher/AP Images

John Locher/AP Images

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California Senator Kamala Harris has proposed a bill to extend after-school activities until 6 pm to help working families. The Center for American Progress found that schools are closed an average of 29 days a year, not including the long breaks in summer and winter. Most schools also close at around 3 pm, which is two hours earlier than when the average workday ends. As a result, families end up needing to spend excessive amounts of money on childcare for all of these days. A survey by Bankrate.com found that on average a family will spend $998 per child for childcare during the summer. The survey also found that 33% of 3,857 adults interviewed expected to go into debt from summer childcare expenses. “My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” said Senator Harris. “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.”

 

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Harris aims to help solve these issues with the Family Friendly Schools Act. The bill will increase after-school programs in 500 “Family Friendly Schools” to support working families. Five-year grants of up to $5 million will be given to several school districts to expand academic, athletic, and enrichment activities to 6 pm. The schools will also not close early for any reason such as professional development. Also, it’s important to note that teachers won’t have to work about working extra hours. They can choose to work during these extended hours but it is completely voluntary and they will be paid extra. These schools will be heavily analyzed by the Department of Education. They will look at what each school did to accomplish the alignment of the work and school day and then survey parents, students, and teachers on how they feel about the program. They will also analyze parental employment rates, student performance, and teacher retention at each Family Friendly School. This will allow them to find the best ways to create these programs for everyone involved. The bill will also give $1.3 billion to 21st Century Community Learning Centers to give up to 1.8 million students access to summer learning opportunities. Harris has gained the support of multiple organizations for this bill such as the American Federation of Teachers, the Center for American Progress, and the Institute for Educational Leadership. If it is passed, the aligning of the school day will be helpful to families throughout the U.S.