Broken Water Fountains

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The men and women over in the Administration Office need to wrap their heads around the meaning of the broken water fountains.

 

Message sent to the Principal of our school:

“(Mr. Principal), please make sure that your staff and students are aware that this is not acceptable. We can not afford to be repairing equipment when our budgets are as tight as they are.”

From: (Someone in the Central Office)

I am sure we cannot afford to repair these fountains.

I was here, though, for the brief period a few years ago when they shut down bathroom breaks. That sure failed. I remember vividly that one girl called her mom from the classroom of a colleague and her mom said, “Just go.” The girl went. So did everyone else in the class who wanted to go and my colleague had the choice of writing up a group of kids, with a likelihood that nothing much would happen to them, or just rolling over. She rolled. I walked upstairs at that time listening as a paraprofessional (!) explained to a student that restricting bathroom privileges violated the student’s civil rights and the student should just go if he felt like it. I took my kids in a group a few times, which was allowed, at the cost of a considerable amount of class time. I did not want to do this group activity, but some girls at certain times of the month require a little flexibility. (I’m sure the nurse was flooded with girls at this time, too, since sending girls to the nurse got around the bathroom restriction.) The restrictions did not last long since they began to suck up quantities of administrator time, as teachers were forced to write up kids for going to the bathroom.

So let’s assume we cannot keep our students out of the bathrooms. (Nor should we, obviously.) Then the next choice would be sending them with security to the bathroom. But security is pretty busy. In fact, they don’t always come when you call them. They certainly can’t be running around the school taking 14 year olds to the bathroom. That means students will actually be going by themselves to the bathroom sometimes.

And that means that vandalism will happen. A small percentage of our students create most of our disciplinary referrals, but members of that group can be hell on wheels. One thing that those Administrators who don’t work inside schools may not understand is that kids who know the system may not express their anger directly. They’ve learned not to push the adults in their lives. As a consequence, a few have become masters at the passive-aggressive comeback.

The water fountains really don’t stand a chance. More importantly, if we emphasize how upset we are at what’s happening to the fountains — the fountains will stand LESS of a chance. We will have targeted those fountains.