I have been reading about the “Pay to Potty” plans in two schools where children had accidents and parents rightly got mad. You would think such a thing couldn’t have happened, and I know that in both situations the schools backed off. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the plan resurfaced again later. While these particular incidents sparked controversy with some, and others thought it was just unfortunate and no big deal, the Pay to Potty or the Pay to Pee plan is right up the corporate alley of using harsh discipline to keep students in line.
Think of the revered school activities that have been discontinued under the appearance of helping students learn better. Who would have ever thought that young children would be made to sit for long periods with few breaks…tested over-and-over…with tests that will fire teachers and close schools?
Did you ever think children would lose recess? And who can believe how the use of personal information is given little consideration when it comes to student confidentiality? Strictly regulating bathroom visits seems like just another controlling feature of new corporate school reforms.
Children are viewed as products to be managed–not human beings with normal needs.
A child’s bathroom etiquette fits deceptively into this plan of harsh discipline involving children. There probably isn’t a teacher around who hasn’t dealt with a student who used the bathroom to get out of class. Usually it involves deeper school problems or even a health issue.
Getting tough on students might appear like it is the right thing to do, because it’s an annoyance when they gotta go during test prep. Or worse, they’re taking the test! So the push is to come up with something to keep children in line and away from the bathrooms. Sometimes the school administration sets the rules.
But do such rules consider the developmental level of the group? It used to be that teachers were especially careful with potty breaks for kindergartners due to their age level. In fact, the research indicates that students up to third grade still need special consideration when it comes to using the restroom. Has this protocol changed with the new rigor and higher expectations?
If a child is needing to go excessively, usually teachers and parents can figure out the problem and come up with a solution. Denying a child the right to go results not only in humiliation but serious health problems.
Here is a list of bathroom outrages:
- In 2015, a kindergartner in Tarpon Springs, Florida was not permitted to go, had an accident and was put in a diaper and pants without the parent being called.
- In 2015, another kindergartner in Lawtey, Florida had to sit in wet underwear for hours after having wet himself.
- In 2014, in Vancouver, Washington, a third-grade student, in a Pay to Potty plan, was given the choice to use play money to go to the bathroom or buy popcorn with her friend. She chose the popcorn. After her accident she was made to wear boy shorts. Legal expert Jonathan Turley even weighed in on the ordeal.
- In 2014, in Lebanon, Oregon, a first grade girl had an accident after saving her play money to purchase a trinket. With pressure from parents, the school dropped the pay plan, but they still penalize students if they require a bathroom break during instruction. They deny students recess.
- In 2013, a charter school in Memphis, Tennessee was accused by parents of not permitting children to use the bathroom, resulting in the children wetting themselves. They also claimed the school took the shoes of the children as punishment.
- In 2007, a Bronx school remodeled its girl’s bathroom and 130 students had to hold it in or use the boy’s bathroom in separate shifts. The school had two bathroom breaks during the day. The boy’s bathroom was also dirty.
Most everyone knows urinary tract infections in children are serious business and can occur if students are made to hold it too long. And repeatedly holding in No. 2 can lead to constipation which can lead to bowel obstruction.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out the UPI Study: “Elementary Schools Need A Lesson in Bathroom Breaks” by Dr. Christopher Cooper. Cooper’s original paper was published in the Journal of Urology. The title—“Do public schools teach voiding dysfunction? Results of an elementary school teacher survey.”
Pay to Potty and other punishing plans are harsh and draw negative attention to something that should be natural and a non-issue. You shouldn’t have to pay to pee with tokens or the loss of recess in order to use the restroom in your school.
And I have to say I don’t blame students for pushing the bathroom card these days. Could you sit all day without recess?
Here is a little analogy. As I wrote this it was icy cold outside and sleeting. I’d just made myself a cup of hot tea and was all settled into my work. My 15 year old Corgi suddenly showed up. She needed to go outside. I put on my heavy coat and braved the elements. I love my dog and she trusts me. I would never consider making her wait. It would be inhumane.