Restrooms should be pleasant places to visit

When I visit school, any school, as one gauge of its quality, I visit the girls' restroom. In too many schools, too few adults use the students' restrooms.

In too many schools, too many boys and girls, knowing so few adults ever enter their restrooms, use these areas for smoking.

In too many schools, nice girls and boys are subject to not-nice-all language and behavior in the restrooms -- even violence.

The smell from the frequent use of marijuana permeates most junior and senior high school restrooms -- in the suburbs as well as in the cities.

Most school restrooms are not cleaned by students as a regular assignment, but by members of the custodial staff, generally after the close of the school day.

Second only to windows, restrooms are the targets of malicious as well as negligent vandalism.

Extortion -- students holding other students up for money using violence and threats of violence -- generally takes place in restrooms.

Here are some ways to improve this fairly serious situation:

Require all adult instructors and staff members to use student restrooms, as well as to enter them at least once each morning and afternoon to be sure they are free from vandalism, violence, and vituperation.

Establish an hourly, student-operated cleaning and service program with an easily seen checkoff chart to be initialed by both a cleaner and a supervisor.

Provide monthly adult custodial staff maintenance for heavy cleaning.

Install a sufficient number of mirrors and shelves in both boys' and girls' restrooms for those who need to groom themselves.

Paint the restrooms in light, bright colors.

Deal in a healing manner with those who use foul language, practice antisocial behavior, or commit petty crimes in the restrooms.

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