When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Except at a New Jersey middle school that locks up the restrooms during passing periods and limits students to 15 restroom passes per month. On other days, students can go during lunch or gym, if they have it, or not at all. There’s less vandalism in the restrooms — but students are avoiding fluids to save their passes for emergencies.

But some parents don’t buy any of the school’s arguments. They say students are pressed for time at lunch and usually feel the need to use the restroom later in the day, especially if they drank something with their meals. If students have gym at the beginning or end of the day, parents say it doesn’t help much. Gym is every other day and some students are enrolled in health instead.

At my large high school, most restrooms were locked all the time because the teachers didn’t want to be on anti-smoking patrol. We learned planning and self-control. But, at least, there were some restrooms open during passing periods.

About Joanne


  1. Walter Wallis says:

    If the law requires restroom facilities, then locking those facilities during business hours is illegal. Most building codes have minimum requirements for plumbing fixtures. People who do not like the fuss of maintaining toilet facilities should find jobs that do not include that responsibility. Until then, urinating through the keyhole is one option.

  2. My high school’s method to reduce problems in the (boy’s) bathroom was to take all the doors off the stalls so that teachers could walk in randomly and see if anyone was smoking or graffiti-ing or what have you. Made me glad I’m a girl.

  3. School administrators seem to have found the textbook used to train especially-nasty factory managers, circa 1900….and they are applying it to the letter.

  4. The problem is that middle school and high school students tend to do naughty things in bathrooms, ranging from graffiti, destruction of the facilities (expensive!), to smoking, to assault of other students (rape and murder in two recent local cases I’m aware of). Schools don’t have the staff to monitor bathrooms constantly (and you wonder why education is so expensive per child). Of course the kids have to pee during the day (so do I, but I have to time it carefully for lunch and my plan period — when I have one — since I can’t leave the classroom when I have students in it). There would be no problem if kids actually went to the bathroom to pee, but in too many cases, that’s not the intent. The intent of the schools is not to torture kids, but keep them safe. What’s *your* solution to the problem?

  5. Wacky Hermit says:

    What the hell is wrong with these kids, when they can’t hold their water??? I went to some public schools with restrooms so filthy that you didn’t even WANT to go in them, even if you “had to go”. I would hold it until the end of the school day just to not have to enter the smoke-filled, graffiti-ridden, excrement-flung stalls.

    Training children to use the potty at convenient times is part of potty training. Only a three or four year old who has just mastered the act of pottying should have to drop everything and run directly to the potty that instant or risk exploding. If a student has a medical problem (diarrhea, incontinence, excessive menstruation), that student should receive compassion and extra bathroom trips; but ordinary kids in Junior High should already be trained to “hold it” for at least a couple of hours at a time!! If they feel pressed for time at lunch, maybe someone should talk to them about setting priorities– taking care of their bathroom needs before their social wants, and teach them not to down a Big Gulp at lunch (I never drank more than 12 ounces of drink with lunch at school, and I did just fine and didn’t get dehydrated).

  6. My middle school has sign-out sheets in every classroom. Whenever a student needs to leave the room (go to bathroom, locker, get a drink) they have to sign their name, date and time. If there is an act of vandalism, violence or whatever, administrators check the sign-out sheets for who was out of class at the time an incident occured. It has been pretty successful in nailing perpetrators so far.

  7. I’m not going to ask how “passing periods” got their name.

  8. The idea that schools should be part of “potty training” reflects a daycare attitude that I’m happy to no longer be a part of.

    Why should people (7 or 17 or 27 or 77) urinate on someone ELSE’S schedule?

    There’s a human dignity issue here.

  9. But if you have to “hold it” for eight hours a day, it can have serious repercussions for your health — your bladder gets stretched out; you can strain the muscles in your lower abdomen, leading to incontinence… Sometimes people’s bladders actually *explode*, and the person usually dies within a weak of poisoning. Not pretty, let me tell you.

    Why not just have teachers guard the restrooms during break and leave them closed during classes? Then I can’t see why they wouldn’t have enough manpower. And, once again, this is how our schools expend tremendous amounts of effort to help the lowest common denominator and ignore the needs of the gifted students — no matter what they do the little punks are going to manage to smoke and draw graffiti on the walls, so why not give up and spend the effort where it will make an impact, i.e. on the students that will actually learn well with more personalized attention!

  10. RitaC asks…”What’s *your* solution to the problem?”

    When an institution finds it necessary to treat people the way that students (and parents) are now being treated, maybe it’s time to change the institution. Specifically: maybe its time to admit that the large, conveyor-belt, bureaucratically-managed-and-controlled public school just doesn’t work. We can talk about what mix of approaches should be applied to solve the problem (smaller schools? charter schools? vouchers? apprenticeship programs?), but I don’t see how it’s possible to look at what’s happening and not conclude that radical change is necessary.

  11. I know the topic is about kids and bathrooms, but we teachers have to hold it all the time. According to this California Teachers Association link, bladder infections are particularly common to teachers. So are foot and voice problems.

  12. When I went to HS, about 8 years ago, the majority of the bathrooms were smoke filled, vandalized, and had no doors (caused by student, not the school). There were only two “nice” bathrooms in the whole school (I’m talking mens bathroom). There were the ones connect to the sports locker rooms. We athletes made sure these bathrooms stayed nice, since we were usually at school before and long after classes were going. Looking back it is kind of funny, and sad, that we had to protect these bathrooms just so were could go to the bathroom with doors.

  13. It’s not good for people to restrict fluids on an ongoing basis so they can avoid having to urinate for 6 hours of wake-time. Teachers or kids. I always hate it when a few troublemakers cause problems for the majority of kids who just want to go about their business. My teenager has to ask to leave class when she has to go to the bathroom during the day because she *can’t* go at lunch – she can’t get in the door for the crowds of girls fixing their hair and whatnot – and there isn’t time between classes. The teachers discourage students from leaving class for this, of course. I don’t know why it can’t be worked out that adults and kids can’t just go to the bathroom when they need to. It is a health and human dignity issue.

  14. My daughter had to see a urologist repeatedly when she was 6 because of this problem-not fun at any age. He showed us on the X-ray the area that had gotten weak, and said it was probably because of the school’s bathroom policy-he’d seen it a lot. She’s 13 now and still has ‘bathroom’ issues.

    I’ve never attended, and neither have my kids, schools where the teachers were limited in the same way. They leave class when they need to-which means anything from using the restroom to making copies to going to talk to another teacher- leaving the door opened for the teacher in the next class over to listen in on the students. We also had security guards patrolling the grounds and hallways, as did all except one of my kids’ schools. In both my middle and high school we only had 3 minutes time between classes, and most of my classes were FAR apart. Bathrooms were closed off during lunch, and after 10th grade gym wasn’t required (and was only every other week up to that point) so there was no other time to go (for the students, at least.) I still have problems, all this time later.

    All these precautions, and there was still smoking, vandalism, and violence.

    If a parent did this, they’d be accused of abuse. If a business did this, they’d be sued.

  15. PJ/Maryland says:

    I can see that bathrooms would be a problem at most schools these days. It wouldn’t be hard to build a 10 minute recess into the schedule, either in the morning or afternoon (or both) to allow both students and teachers to relieve themselves. The problem would be that you’d need enough bathroom space to allow almost the whole school to go at once. (There’s a similar problem with stairs at multi-story schools; since everyone changes classes at the same time, you need way more stairs than a normal building.)

    I like DaveHuber’s school’s system. I think graffiti and other trashing of the rest rooms is the main problem, and his system at least handles that. There’s still the concern about kids missing class for long restroom breaks, and this doesn’t address the teachers’ needs, but it’s a start. (Tho, what do you do about kids putting down the wrong time and so escaping scrutiny?)

  16. Laura, I agree that it’s a health and human dignity issue. I don’t know what the answers are. Parent patrols? Student hall monitors?

    Any solution will probably involve some purist’s interpretion of rights or privacy infractions, so this whole dilemma makes me scratch my head.

    Like Rita said, “Solutions, anyone?”

  17. If this policy were instituted in a factory, many who now assert that the kids should “hold it” would call the policy inhumane and degrading. Which it is. The school cites many excuses for their change in policy, but the overriding one seems to be a desire for greater control over the student body (bodies?)

    Many doctors recommend that their patients drink 8 glasses of water a day. Under this school’s policy, most if not all students will run the risk of dehydration. 15 passes for every 20-22 days means that the kids must decide which week they just won’t need to use the bathroom. At all. The school bathrooms probably don’t have the capacity to serve all the students at lunch.

    Even in small towns, many kids have an hour on the bus to get to school. If the school day runs 6.5 hours, they are then facing 8 and a half hours without access to a toilet. They are not adults, they do not have adult-sized bladders, and they are surrounded by others who are quick to ridicule any weakness. Do you think the kid who voids in class will enjoy the experience? Do you think his fellow classmates will not then make his life a Hell on earth? What of the girl whose period comes early, and whose teacher doesn’t believe her need to visit the bathroom? Surely the school nurse has better things to do with her time than judge whether a student needs more bathroom passes.

    Couldn’t the school appoint some trusted students as hall monitors? If they’re really concerned about threats written on bathroom walls, hall monitors could give them a fighting chance to know who visited the bathroom in question. It would also be more humane to the student body as a whole.

  18. Roy W. Wright says:

    …and you wonder why education is so expensive per child…

    No, not really. And it has little to do with this.

  19. Actually, this whole thing makes you wonder if Foucault was actually on to something…

  20. Taking signing out of a room to go to the bathroom a step further, signing *in* at the bathroom door is also required where I teach. As if anyone who is going to commit some vandalism, graffiti, or lewd act is going to sign in with their own name; and with over 2000 students, no teacher (nor administrator) will know each kid’s identity. And yes, they do have ID cards, but as I’ve seen in the media center recently when checking out novels, very few students carry them. (I guess a decision could be made: No ID, not potty. But that is not something I’ll bring to the table. Besides they could just borrow someone else’s.)

    When I taught in junior high, there was one bathroom which would be opened by the hall monitor for kids who signed in during class (the bathrooms were open between class with teachers on hall duty in their vacinity).

    In the high school I now teach at, signing out in the classroom is replaced by a pass book which each student is assigned at the beginning of the year (it is also a planner) and then they sign in at the bathroom where a teacher (actually, there are two teachers: one for the girls’ and one for the boys’) is guarding it.

    When I was in high school and junior high, in the late ’80’s, we didn’t have such measures. I think it is a sad state of affairs and my friends who are not in education find it shocking. Those same friends are not surprised at the numerous urinary tract infections and rates of colon cancer for those in education.

    There have been, however, parents in the district I teach in who have sued due to a teacher not allowing their child to go. I don’t know specifically the results of the legal action, but I know it has happened.

  21. Of course it is inhumane and ridiculous. Of course it is a few children who are forcing the precautions, not the vast majority. Smoking and graffiti are relatively minor problems — but we have increasing numbers of mentally ill students in our schools. I have a number of students on no-pass restrictions because they apparently, at age 16, cannot handle the responsiblity of going to get a drink of water without doing something destructive.

    I developed kidney problems when I started teaching.

  22. SuzieQ, this would be prohibitively expensive, I’m sure, but there could be more bathrooms put in. In my day, each of the first and second grade classrooms had their own little facilities. It would have saved my daughter some grief if her school had been that way. You couldn’t do that sort of thing for middle schools or high schools, I guess, but there surely could be more than two or three sets of bathrooms for schools with 1000 kids. I don’t know why a set of, say, 6 classrooms couldn’t have its own toilet facilities. They’re spending millions of dollars on a state-of-the-art AUDITORIUM in one of our “failing” schools; if they can do that, they can surely add some plumbing.

    Then increase the time between classes (which might necessitate lengthening the school day) so that kids have some chance of getting in and out between classes; that, coupled with the 10-minute break midmorning and midafternoon, might do the trick.

    As to the destruction of the bathrooms by the hoodlums among the student population – some form of sign-in might help there, and when those kids are identified, expel them. I mean it. The whole school would be better for it.

    But really, you know, I don’t know that, for new schools being built, putting in one small restroom in the back of each classroom is so far-fetched. Hospitals have one for each private room, for pete’s sake. Hotels do. If vandalism occurred, there would be no question who did it. A girl could go take care of business and come right back to her seat without having to announce to the world that she’s on her period and she really has to have that hall pass. I mean, why not???

  23. I have students coming up to my desk with their eyes floating while they do their I Really Have To Go Bad little dance.

    I gladly sign every request to go to the bathroom. But when I remind the child that they have to stay after school for five minutes to make up for the time missed, suddenly their bladder develops increased capacity.

    99 times out of a 100, a request to go to the bathroom is simply a request to take a break from seeing lovely face.

    Last year, not one student left my class to go to the bathroom. What good is taking a little free time if you just have to make up for it later? No, they learned to take their breaks at better times. Like during math.

  24. …locked bathrooms, signout sheets with ID checks and guards at the toilet. This is not a good way to encourage the habits of responsibility necessary for a free society.
    Rita C., you mentioned increasing numbers of mentally ill students. At the risk of going a bit off topic, why is this?

  25. At my school there’s not much of a reason for people to need to miss class to use the restroom. Five minutes between 1st and 2nd periods, 10 minutes between 2nd and 3rd, 5 minutes between 3rd and 4th–then a 40 min lunch. 5 minutes between 5th and 6th.

    As I tell the students, you never have to hold it for more than 57 minutes, and they never see me leave the classroom during class. For any reason.

    Human dignity issue? We’re not telling them they can’t ever go! We’re telling them that they can’t go at the exact second they want to. A little planning and a quicker walk (how slow do high school students walk between classes? I can hit the restroom *and* the office in a 5 min break) and they should be able to take care of themselves just fine.

  26. Darren, some schools go two minutes between classes.

    Robert, have you considered that kids who have to catch a ride after school can’t stay late with no prior arrangements? My kid’s school policy is that there is no provision for kids to call for that sort of thing – you have to make all your plans before school. Which is asinine, but there it is.

  27. Many doctors recommend that their patients drink 8 glasses of water a day.

    If a doctor says that, politely ask him/her for a cite. Snopes says it isn’t necessary. Four glasses of anything is enough, and that includes coffee, tea, and soda.

    Maybe part of the problem is we’re now over-hydrating because of this misconception?

  28. boo, I don’t know why it is. Wish I did. I’d assume multiple factors are involved, but many of them seem to have mentally ill parents.

  29. At one point, my doctor informed me that I was overhydrated. I was able to drink just enough, without overdoing it, for when I had my five minutes between classes to go. My doctor said some elderly folks die of overhydration. Apparently the electrolytes become too dilluted which is not healthy. So now I drink my tea in the morning, a little milk at lunch, a nice glass of water after working out, and a beer or glass of wine in the evening. Now I’m going to check out that Snopes site.

  30. Some people (such as myself) can’t hold it, and it has nothing to do with learning “self control.” If my school had a policy like the NJ school I would have had to bring an extra set of pants!

  31. Laura–

    When students say they can’t stay after school because of a transportation problem, I allow them to make arrangments and stay the next day.

    But the rule that they have to stay after for spending time visiting the bathroom is never enforced because it works so well as a deterrent.

    In California, state law says a teacher may keep a child after school for up to 60 minutes without securing the permission of the parent. So, it the the child skips detention, it’s truancy.

    It helps to have an principal that will back you up.

    One parent complained recently that if she allowed her daughter to stay for detention, she’d have to hire a taxi to pick her up. The principal said, “So be it.” Since then, her daughter’s behavior has improved.

  32. Dave Dahlke says:

    Close the bathrooms and have porta-potties outside. I can’t believe the kids would be holding parties in those. And I also believe this would cut down on trips to the outdoor manor.

  33. It is abusive to not allow someone to use a bathroom. The authorities should be ashamed of themselves. Justifying their cruel actions as necessary to combat the actions of a few jerks is just the kind of zero-tolerance nonsense that will probably result in Ziploc bags of urine being left on their automobiles during the next school board meeting.

    If you treat people like babies, don’t be surprised when they act like it.

  34. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    Robert, is it really that much skin off your teeth to allow a kid to go to the bathroom?

  35. Walter Wallis says:

    Robert, I would like to have you work under my authority for a few days. You would be in Pampers.
    I believe there are architectural solutions to the bathroom problem but we will not see them as long as little Napoleons can get by with their power trips. I worked several months at a shipyard where you urinated over the side, but had to go on the dock for defecation. Rudely painted inside that toilet was a sign “Don’t let your anal orifice defecate you out of a job.” or words to that effect. I chose not to make marine electrician my career. Children are forced to go to school, and to add insult to injury by demeaning them is unforgivable.

  36. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    I remember one day in high school when I had to go to the restroom between a couple of classes and there really wasn’t time. The reason I had to go right then was that I was on my period and I had to take care of business. It wasn’t an option. I went on to class and got to the door just as the tardy bell rang. When I walked in the teacher snapped, “Detention!” I went on to my seat without a word. When I got home I told my mom I had detention, and why. She worked for the school system as a secretary, and she asked me if I wanted her to talk to the teacher. All the school personnel knew each other, it was a very small town. I said, no, I’ll just go to detention. I don’t care. But she talked to the teacher anyway, and the teacher was embarrassed because her little power trip was exposed. “Laura should have told me why she was late….” Well, she didn’t ask, and I wasn’t going to whine, and certainly not talk about my period in front of the whole class. I went on to detention, my first and only time there, and the teacher in charge and the other kids couldn’t BELIEVE I was there. (I was a real goody-two-shoes in those days, still am really.) The moral of the story is that sometimes nature trumps stupid rules, and sometimes people have to pay the price for breaking those stupid rules anyway, and sometimes people in charge, be they parents, teachers, or bosses, make jackasses of themselves just because they can. Welcome to life on planet Earth.

  37. Mark Odell says:

    Since kids now must carry backpacks (and even roll around small pieces of luggage) because there are no longer lockers, will the same people who devised that brilliant non-solution be allowed to mandate that kids take the next logical step, and carry around personal urine bottles because there are no longer bathrooms?

    I don’t know the answer, I’m just asking the question.

  38. Since it’s far more important to get to class, just pee in the halls. There’s learning to be done here, bodies can’t get in the way! And why not cancel lunchtime, too? All that eating can be scheduled at a much more convenient time before and after school.

  39. OK, let’s put it in perspective… imagine a newspaper article reading:

    “Jane Doe’s four children, ages eight through sixteen, are home schooled. They sit at the dining room table for most of eight hours every day, with a half-hour break for lunch. They are not allowed to get up, for any reason, without permission. The two younger kids are allowed outside for exactly fifteen minutes every day. Bathroom breaks are rigidly scheduled; each child is allowed two of them, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Jane stands outside the bathroom door with a stopwatch, allowing each of the two older children exactly one hundred and twenty seconds to finish urinating and defecating and to wash their hands afterwards. If a child does not complete her toileting on time, Jane forces her to sit at the dining room table for an extra hour that day.”

    How long before CPS knocks on Ms. Doe’s door?

  40. What the hell is wrong with these kids, when they can’t hold their water???

    And what’s wrong with you that you think it’s a matter of willpower?

    She’s 13 now and still has ‘bathroom’ issues.

    This is precisely what happens. It happened to me, and at the age of 33 I am finally finding some relief from “bathroom anxiety” through personal effort and the freedom of having a job where nobody cares how much you go to the bathroom.

    Holding it is 1) not healthy, 2) not a reasonable expectation because it is a biological function and not a matter of willpower. Some people have small bladders. Also, I have been told by several doctors that urinating every 2 hours or so is the ideal norm. To go longer than that increases chance of infection and other health problems (not to mention psychological issues).

    As someone mentioned, if factories or businesses had such a policy they would be sued out the door for engaging in an inhumane, degrading practice.

    I agree that school bathrooms tend to be hotbeds of vandalism and other improper behavior. I like the “signout sheet” solution. It is not invasive or degrading, and provides a paper trail for investigations of crimes.

    It’s better than the solution my 7th grade science teacher came up with, which was to force the kid to take a toilet seat with him that had “POTTY PASS” on it in big red letters (as if only 2-year-olds couldn’t hold it). It was a great way to stoke resentment toward the teacher by students who had a genuine need.

  41. They barely get taught anything anyomore because their little heads are used for any and every educational/social/multicultural experiment that rolls down the pike

    What little creativity they have is crushed out of them through school uniforms, proscribed books, topics and motions.

    Their lunch periods are increasingly short, silent feeding trough episodes

    And they are3 made to tote around heavy loads of books that cannot be kept in desks or lockers for fear of theft.

    And now they are being forced to excrete only at the behest of authority figures.

    Are we raising children or creating hell?

  42. Well, try to hold class (keeping everybody in line, lecturing, managing misbehaved students, fielding notes from various offices — all at the same time), while 10 kids in a row ask to go to the bathroom. Then, when something happens in the bathroom, be ready to remember exactly who was out when — don’t forget to police that sign-out form while you’re at it. And don’t forget to teach now — especially the learning disabled and minority kids who are the ones disrupting the class — because that NCLB test is coming up!

    I don’t know how many things you all do at once, but I can guarantee you would start to feel overwhelmed. One or two going to the bathroom is not a problem, but you know that teenage girls prefer to go in herds…

  43. “the learning disabled and minority kids who are the ones disrupting the class”


    I hope none of your students’ parents read this blog, or you’re going to be having a talk with your administration.

    And in this case, I won’t think it’s some sort of crazy intrusion based on political correctness.

  44. Jon,

    Netiquette rule number 1: Don’t use message board posts as a yardstick for measuring character. It’s a marker of poor critical thinking skills.

    Another thing: NCLB specifically *targets* learning disabled and minority students as populations that must show growth.

    I believe Rita was showing her exasperation with student stereotypes and with the NCLB expectations.

    Am I right, Rita?

  45. One solution that might work in some cases at the high school level, is the notion of giving students a number of bathroom “tickets”. It’s left to the student to decide if the need is urgent enough to give up a ticket. At the end of a grading period, students may turn in their leftover tickets for extra credit. In most cases, extra credit doesn’t actually affect a student’s grade, but almost every kid still likes getting bonus points. If the teacher is willing to do the small amount of work needed to distribute the tickets, it can be effective. This may not work for everyone, but maybe this is part of a combination of approaches that could help to remedy this problem.
    However, with the exception of those with legitimate medical needs, everyone in at least middle school or older grades is in fact able to hold it. If holding it was a biological impossibility, everyone would be walking around with wet pants, or worse. I went to a high school with three minute passing periods, and I never had any trouble. I must admit I had the benefit of being able to go standing up, which makes things a little quicker, I suppose. On the other hand, I’ve always been a fast walker. Except in a museum, I don’t feel well-served by dawdling along as if I’m intentionally trying to take each step a little slower than the last one. And while it may make me evil, I have little sympathy for those who do.
    I also made the effort to be responsible and visit the restroom in between nearby classes, which covered my bases when I had to walk across campus to the next class. Remember when you were three or four, and every time you left the house, mommy made sure you went to bathroom first? Mommy is responsible and plans ahead in a way a 3 or 4 year old can’t. Does a middle or high schooler need a mommy still? I can’t help but feel that 9 times out of 10, or maybe even 99 times out of 100, a student who needs to go to the bathroom during class, actually only WANTS to go to the bathroom during class, and has made choices during the day that put him or her in this situation.
    This thread seems to have a tradition of hypotheticals, so why not a couple more?
    How often does your middle or high school aged child go to the bathroom during a movie at the theater? Almost every one of you should be saying zero, if you’re being honest. Can you still say it’s impossible to plan accordingly or hold it?
    Better yet, once your child is asleep, how many times do they get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? The answer, once again is probably zero, but more of you could be honest by saying once this time. I hope I’m not too far off in taking as a given the notion that your child is sleeping 7 or 8 or even more hours each night. That’s a long time to hold it. Longer than some of your kids spend at school.
    Others, who are probably much smarter than me, have postulated that this situation is dehumanizing and cruel. One might reply that not asking students to be responsible for their behavior is just as cruel, and infantilizing as well.
    Finally, I also have to admit that I can only reliably speak for what goes on at my school, and like the latest weight-loss system, your actual results may vary.

  46. Yikes! Didn’t realize that was quite so long. Sorry about that. I hope none of you had to make the agonizing choice between finishing it and visiting your nearest restroom.

  47. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    “Holding it” at night is very different than during the day. Metabolism and everything else is different when you’re asleep.

    It’s nice, JayDean, that you are so well-regulated and that your body is cooperative in that respect.

    My frequency in needing to go to the bathroom is affected by such mundane things as whether I took cold medicine that morning.

  48. Sir,

    If you read the article, you may wish to edit your comments. Your memory that, “I also made the effort to be responsible and visit the restroom in between nearby classes, which covered my bases when I had to walk across campus to the next class” is just dandy, except this middle school has seen fit to _lock_ the restrooms _between_ classes.

    “Since the policy was instituted, Pitcher said the number of bathroom incidents has dropped dramatically. The restroom doors are locked between classes, but she said students can use the bathrooms during gym and lunch.”

    I could extend this logic, of course. Why allow them to use the bathroom at all? It only throws off their bodily rhythms, and gets them into trouble in the last days of the month, when they’ve run out of passes. Indeed, why have the school open? If no children or teachers enter the building, the number of “bathroom incidents” will drop to zero.

    Unless the school architects grossly overestimated the number of bathrooms necessary for this school, there probably aren’t enough toilets available for every student to use during lunch. Way back in the Dark Ages, when I was in school, the girls had to rush to eat lunch, use the bathroom, which often had a line, and make it to class on time.

    Students interrupting class to visit the bathroom have always been disruptive, and will always be disruptive. This isn’t a new tactic. Most schools, however, find a way to deal with the problem which doesn’t bring lawsuits.

  49. SusieQ,

    Maybe Rita (whose contributions to this site I usually admire) was showing her frustration, but singling out minorities and the learning disabled isn’t something I expected to see during a discussion on bathroom passes. I was a bit taken aback at their mention and thought that the mention needed to be addressed.

    Teenage girls do tend to want to go together. In some cases, this is justified: “Hey Susy, do you have a tampon I can have?” “Sure, I’ll have half the class pass it to you.” isn’t a likely conversation to occur during 3rd hour. Have a code word for such situations, and all embarrassment can be avoided. As for groups of more than two, if this is a problem, the teacher needed to establish better control yesterday.

  50. Laura (southernxyl) says:

    jon, people in Rita’s situation have to bite their tongues all day long to avoid lawsuits. Imagine if she wanted to read a chapter of “Huck Finn” aloud. It’s cathartic to just blurt out what one thinks from time to time. And it’s stupid to ignore the facts. She’s talking about her actual real-life experiences, which ought to triumph over P.C. pie-in-the-sky every time.

  51. If her experiences always have white children behaving admirably at all times, I won’t comment further.

  52. Eric Holcombe says:

    And if they have the non-whites always receiving special treatment?

  53. It seems to me that bathroom vandalism is a symptom of a larger problem…a problem that is only made worse by policies that treat students like inmates rather than part of a community of learning.

  54. JPandin, you are absolutely correct — the problems are a symptom of flaws in the way we educate children — one of the biggest being the enormous schools, I believe. That’s my bias.

    jon, I said *especially* the learning disabled and minority children because these are the kids we are failing according to NCLB. Our test scores are the highest in the county in several areas, but because of the gap, we’re labeled “failing.” That’s an issue. It’s an issue that black kids fail classes at 3x the rate of white kids in my school, and we’re trying to figure out why.

    I’m always surprised at how little people know about classroom dynamics. Children who don’t do well in school tend to be disruptive (they act out). Eventually, being disruptive interrupts their education (they get put out of class a lot), and they do even more poorly. It is a vicious circle. Learning disabled and certain minority students tend to fit this pattern most frequently (many books and articles, some of which have been cited here, document this). Thus the achievement gap. Does this mean that typical learning white students are always sterling characters? Nope. Does this mean that LD and minority children are always disruptive? Nope again. But I know what the patterns are within my classroom. Am I responsible for those patterns? Yes, I am. One of the things I’m doing as a teacher is trying to break that circle by increasing cooperation and achievement with the disruptive students (all of them). By the way, these are the students who abuse bathroom passes the most because they dislike school because they don’t do well in school and therefore want to escape the classroom the most, thereby missing valuable information in class, thereby not doing well on assignments, thereby making them dislike school, etc. Students who do not like school do not tend to feel like a member of a community and are also more likely to be destructive.

    So, here’s my best reason for no bathroom passes from English class: if they’re in the bathroom peeing, they’re not learning. Let ’em pee during their study hall, lunch, or our 5 minute passing period.
    But jon will be thrilled, I’m sure, to know that the hall fight I broke up today was between white boys. I’m pretty sure I did nothing to get myself sued. Maybe. I did have to touch them.

  55. As for girls and tampons, they go to the nurse for that. Her bathroom is usually the cleanest, anyway. Heck, *I’ve* gone down and asked her for stuff. I don’t refuse nurse passes because I know she’ll bounce them right back to class if it’s nothing — and get them placed on a no-pass restriction if they abuse her.

  56. RitaC,

    Thanks for responding. I’m not entirely sure I am assuaged by your response, but I’m not there in your shoes. I agree that disruption and low achievement often go hand in hand, but… I’ll let it pass. I don’t think you’re a horrible person.

    As for test scores and getting the label of “failing”, I agree with you that there are many things wrong with those standards. But I don’t see where urination breaks are a major part of the problem.

  57. jon, they’re not a major part of the problem, just one of the little things that contribute, ya know?

  58. What the hell is wrong with these kids, when they can’t hold their water???

    However, with the exception of those with legitimate medical needs, everyone in at least middle school or older grades is in fact able to hold it. If holding it was a biological impossibility, everyone would be walking around with wet pants, or worse.

    The attitudes displayed by Wacky Hermit and JayDean are straight out of the 19th century, when it was considered rude to get up from the dinner table to go to the bathroom, and children were punished for doing so. I’m glad I don’t live in those days.

    Yes, people can “hold it.” That doesn’t make it healthy. And that article did refer to kids being more constipated these days due to insufficient intake of fluid. Perhaps eight glasses of water a day are unnecessary, but maybe these kids aren’t even getting four.

    I must admit I had the benefit of being able to go standing up, which makes things a little quicker, I suppose.

    You don’t say? If, to urinate, you had to actually take off and hang up any outerwear such as a coat (and keep an eye on it so that someone doesn’t reach into your stall and grab it off the hook), drop your pants and underpants, sit on a seat to urinate — and possibly have to wipe off the seat and/or cover it with toilet paper because the previous user got urine all over it — and keep a purse securely between your feet while you relieved yourself … trust me, it would take you a lot longer to go to the bathroom.

    This is why the lines are so long in ladies’ rooms. Not because we’re all “powdering our noses.”

    On the other hand, I’ve always been a fast walker. Except in a museum, I don’t feel well-served by dawdling along as if I’m intentionally trying to take each step a little slower than the last one. And while it may make me evil, I have little sympathy for those who do.

    Jay, I’m not familiar with you and so this may be unfair, but you strike me as someone who has little sympathy for anyone who suffers from problems that don’t afflict you, or who merely differs from you in his or her approach to life.

    JPandin, among others in the thread, have pinpointed the heart of the matter accurately: this is a case of the little Hitlers of the edy00cayshun system abusing a perennial issue, bathroom vandalism and smoking, to heighten their control over students in the pettiest of ways.


  1. Bathrooms

    Joanne Jacobs had a popular post on control while I was gone. A couple of comments made me laugh. A sense of humor is good. When I worked for the grant program we spent a great deal of time interviewing