Kamala Harris proposes incentives for schools to extend school days by three hours

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., introduced legislation on Wednesday that would incentivize school districts to extend school days as a way of accommodating parents' work schedules.

The program would offer five-year, $5 million grants for schools to "develop high-quality, culturally relevant, linguistically accessible, developmentally appropriate academic, athletic or enrichment opportunities for students."

“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” said Harris, who is running for president. “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. ... My bill provides an innovative solution that will help reduce the burden of childcare on working families.

"It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”

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Harris' office indicated to Fox News that the legislation would not mandate that school districts keep students in school during the extended hours.

"Our bill does not mandate how schools implement the program so long as they stay open until 6pm. Schools have the flexibility to determine what works best for their community, and the students and their families," Press Secretary Meaghan Lynch said when asked about the issue.

The program would also invest $1 billion in "enriching summer learning programs" while promising not to force teachers into working longer hours.

"Summer breaks present a challenge; in fact, three in four parents report at least some difficulty finding childcare during that time period," Harris' office said.

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"The economic cost of this problem is substantial. Schools are closed for two weeks longer than the typical American with paid leave has in paid holidays and vacation."

According to a background document, the program would aim to reach 1.8 million children for access to summer programs. At the end of the five-year grant period, the Education Department would report on feedback from parents, students, and others.