The Potty Manifesto and the Public Good

“A lot of the preschools allow or should be allowing for some accidents to be occurring,” he said. “To expect kids to be perfect and not have any accidents is certainly not realistic.” WP

So a three year old in the Arlington public schools was removed from her preschool for peeing her pants too much, and this has caused something of a hullabaloo in the regional DC news.

The thing is, the school system does allow some accidents to occur, up to 8 a month. Then the child must be suspended for a month to learn how to be potty trained so she doesn’t disrupt the class further. In my mind, the fault here is that the school system does not communicate this policy to the parents of each incoming class. The parents of the girl may have stepped up her training if they had known about the policy. As it was, the girl should have been waived for another month given the ignorance to the policy.

School systems have to make rules for disruptive students to ensure teachers’ attention aren’t focused too often on the disruption; balanced against a pretty lenient 8 pees/month rule, it’s better in my mind that the school has this rule. Yeah, it is frustrating that the disruption is an innocent girl who gets distracted and pees her pants too often, but it’s still a repetitive behavior that takes the teacher’s attention off the ridiculousness that is a room full of preschoolers.

It’s a public good argument. The governing body (the school) has to set rules that aim at efficiently coordinating the individuals of the group so that the maximum number of individuals are provided equal opportunity. In this case, it’s making sure a teacher’s not so distracted by a constantly soiled pair of pants that the teacher doesn’t notice another preschooler is swallowing the head of a T-Rex toy he just tore off.

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