[by Kirsten] Article first published as Normal Business Hours are not Traditional School Hours on Technorati.
As a working mom who is currently looking for work, I am reminded of the disconnect between the hours I readily have available to work, and the expectations of the business world.
I have three children. They are not old enough to care for themselves. In our area, the official after school program at the school, an afternoon sitter or an au pair all cost around the same, between $1500 and $2000 per month for a family like mine.
In addition to the daily schedule conflict, our public school calendar is completely unrelated to any normal business calendar. A typical company provides 10 federal holidays and 10 vacation days per year. In the Palo Alto Unified School District there are 28 non-instructional days in-between the first day of school and the last - NOT INCLUDING SUMMER or the two kick-her-when-she's-down days needed to round out the first and last instructional weeks. (Let's start on Tuesday and end on Thursday, ok?)
During the school year, a typical business worker will have 8 holidays and access to 10 vacation days, assuming that they do not take any summer vacation. In summary, that's 20 days of childcare that working families have to scramble to find each year, not including the summer! Is it safe to assume that working families will find safe, affordable and accessible summer care, and never go on a vacation? Is that how we want our system to function?
I understand that the public schools are not accountable for this discrepancy. But it is a real problem, and it places a real burden on working families. Where do you think coverage for these days come from in real life? From family members? Neighbors? Or are kids endangered by being inadequately supervised?
I would like to see something change. Whether school boards and state officials are held accountable for their impact; employment laws are re-crafted to structure legitimate and well paid work to correlate with the demands of real life; or at the local or community level we take advantage of school facilities and staff to fill this need, we need to speak up about this issue and solve this problem.
This is not an issue to be passive about. We need to raise the next generation of girls to be what they want and are capable of being, even if they want to become moms too.