Kamala Harris Thinks 10 Hours is a Good Length for the School Day

Rachel S

If we can endeavor to impose rules on political discourse, I like to think we can all agree, if on nothing else, that it’s never okay to go after children. Well, all of us except Kamala Harris.

Sen. Harris is sponsoring the Family Friendly Schools Act (along with somehow less relevant presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand) that would provide funding in order to expand school hours to service low-income families by having the state raise children instead of parents.

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, hailed the bill for addressing a real and persistent problem for working parents.

“By investing in before, and after school programming, summer enrichment and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, this legislation addresses a chronic and long-neglected problem: too many working parents can’t access affordable care for their kids during the workday,” said Weingarten. “Roughly one million mothers of elementary school children cut their hours at work because of a lack of affordable child care. This bill would enable school districts and communities to find solutions that work for them, and would make sure teachers and paraprofessionals aren’t filling in the gaps without respect and fair compensation.”

I’m no educator, but I come from a family of them: my aunt is a teacher, my grandpa was a teacher and professor, my friends are teachers, my German host parents are teachers, my boyfriend’s mother is a head teacher (that’s British for school principal). I like to think I have a little bit of insight into the profession. So I am more or less qualified to make the following statement (which is my own opinion and does not necessarily represent any of the aforementioned educators):


First of all, and I have to start with it because otherwise I might literally explode it’s SO FREAKING OBVIOUS, let me just say: year round school. If you’re worried about parents’ ability to provide care for their kids, it makes sense to start with the THREE MONTH period of no classes. Year round school is the obvious answer: It splits breaks into smaller, more regular gaps, which can improve student/teacher burnout and may reduce “summer slide” wherein students forget some of what they’ve learned the school year prior– which seems to primarily affect the underprivileged students Harris claims to be so worried about. Further, the fact that schools would be open throughout the year without increasing (while still having the same number of days off, by the way) means that families would have access to them during summers without having to spend a billion dollars. LITERALLY.

Harris drew on her personal experience in defense of the bill.

“My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” said 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. 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. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”

It’s not the job of the education system to raise children. Its only job is to educate. And while yes, that is a broad umbrella that includes social skills, coping mechanisms, and values along with academics, it doesn’t include spending an insane amount of money for schools to become daycares. Teachers already put in a ton of (unpaid) overtime hours. Harris’s bill doesn’t seem to address that; she doesn’t seem particularly bothered by who will have to foot the cost of her bill– both financially and physically.

Put succinctly, Harris has introduced a plan that serves as a solution to one group and a cactus in the rectum to another. Students don’t need more time at school. They need more play time. They need fathers. They need family time. They need things that government grants can’t buy, and Harris’s bill solves none of these problems. If anything, it exacerbates them. It’s an exercise in insanity: We’ve been throwing money at the education system in the States for decades, and we’re still not seeing results.

Eh, but if socialism just needs one more try, surely throwing money at the problem does too.

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