(WAND) - A bill proposing school days be extended to 6 p.m. has been proposed by a California senator.
The majority of schools in the U.S. end class at 3 p.m., but the average American parent is working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
That leaves many families struggling to balance school and work days. Often students have to wait in after school programs until parents can get there to pick them up.
In response to that, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) has proposed legislation called the Family Friendly Schools Act.
The current school schedules are the product of a past era when most mothers stayed home, and many children were expected to help with the family business or farm after school.
Now, 75 percent of women with school-aged children work.
The Family Friendly Schools Act would award five-year grants of up to $5 million to 500 U.S. school districts with the purpose of building a new school day around an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday school week.
The bill would also limit the amount of days schools can close without offering free, full-day enrichment activities for students.
On average, schools close for 29 days during the school year and are closed for the entire summer.
Thirty nine percent of all workers, and 80 percent of low-wage workers, do not get any paid vacation time at all.
The grants would primarily serve low-income elementary schools.
“The misalignment between school and work schedules puts working families through unnecessary financial stress — a burden we know is disproportionately shouldered by Black and Latinx families and families with low incomes,” Catherine Brown, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, said about the bill. “Senator Harris’ proposal would better support families in arranging child care and their work schedules, enabling more parents — largely mothers — to work, advancing educational equity and providing a needed boost to our economy.”
CAP estimates the average cost of child care due to misaligned school and work schedules is around $6,600 per year.
In addition to Senator Harris, the bill is sponsored by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).