Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bursting, In More Ways Than One

Kindergarteners sure are cute, aren't they? Back when I worked with younger students, my heart would just melt when I saw the kindergarteners, carefully maneuvering hand-in-hand through the hallways, looking like It's a Small World in action. Most of them love school and truly are filled with wonder and excitement. Not many people can look at kindergarteners and feel cynical.

But I can definitely feel cynical when I read something like this. P.S. 19, in Corona, Queens, is full to bursting with kids. A nearby school opened to ease overcrowding has already doubled in size. The school is so overcrowded that those same freakin'-adorable kindergarteners are going home with red faces and wet pants because they don't have regular access to a bathroom.

Young children sometimes still struggle to manage their bathroom needs. At the same time, bathroom independence is powerful for a child that age. Only babies, kindergarteners feel assured, wet their pants. How embarrassing for a child to have an accident, no matter how compassionate and understanding the adults and even his or her peers may be. It still smarts for a kindergarten child to have to change into the spare sweatsuit and underpants or, worse, to ride the bus or take the walk home following an accident.

At my old school, the kindergarten rooms had attached bathrooms. They were new and clean. I don't want to suggest, not for a moment, that P.S. 19 might not be a priority for the city because many P.S. 19 parents are undocumented and therefore afraid to raise too much of a fuss. No. That couldn't possibly be it.
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