The Atlantic has an article asking “Why Does the School Day End 2 Hours Before the Workday?”
Across the country, parents are struggling to balance their busy work routine with their children’s school schedule. Both parents work in half of married-couple families, and 70 percent of them work from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., a reality that leaves most families to contend with at least a two-hour gap between when school ends and when the workday ends…. This mismatch between school and workday, a relic of a bygone era and outdated family norms, has left parents and school districts scrambling to find a solution.
Filling this gap can cost families thousands of dollars a year in tuition to after-school programs or payments to child care providers. It can force women to shift to part-time work rather than full-time.
“We often think about this as a problem every family faces, and it just happens over and over again in this systemic way: The mother cuts back on her hours for when school is closed,” said Catherine Brown, an education-policy researcher at the Center for American Progress. “Why do we have a wage gap? Partially it’s because of this, I believe.”
A 6-hour day can start at 8 and end at 2, which in many places makes it possible for parents to drop off their kids, and pick them up. In interviews I’ve conducted with people at companies that have gone to a 6-hour day, this often comes up as a significant benefit.
What this piece makes me realize is that they don’t talk about it as an expression of a fuzzy sentiment that “I want to spend more time with my young children;” they recognize that shorter hours solve a really serious problem that lots of young parents have.
[Pictures are from my kids’ time at Peninsula School in Menlo Park.]