The Ayn Rand Academy …free markets, wet pants, and the launch of the most pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrappiest charter school in America


I occasionally get awesome ideas that, because I have a soul, I can’t act on. And I had one of those ideas just now, as I was sitting here, reading about a third grade teacher in Vancouver, Washington who just recently instituted a pay-to-potty scheme with disastrous consequences. The information at this point is scant, but one imagines this teacher, who is now on administrative leave, instituted this program – in which students earned play money which could then be redeemed for food, toys, bathroom breaks, and the like – in order to pass along a valuable lesson on responsibility, prioritization, and the value of the almighty buck. The initiative, as one might expect, came to an abrupt end once kids started showing up at their homes carrying bundles of urine-soaked clothing, having opted to spend their money on treats and toys instead of toilet time. As the teacher has yet to be identified, it’s hard to say for certain, but my guess is that we’ll find him, or her, to be a conservative activist type, obsessed with the notion of personal responsibility, and convinced that the children of today lack the character to become self-made titans of industry, etc. Whether or not that’s the case, though, it got me thinking that a charter school built around the greed is good and sink or swim lessons put forward by the unashamedly-sociopathic Ayn Rand might do incredibly well in today’s post-Tea Party world, in which a growing number of people really seem to think that public education is nothing more than a training ground for limp-wristed, socialist, wine sippers. I’m not quite sure yet what a Randian charter school would look like, but I suspect that the football team would play without helmets, the school lunches would be priced to maximize shareholder value, and that students would be encouraged to ruthlessly pursue their rugged individualism wherever it might lead them (i.e. bullying would be encouraged).

aynrandacad2Here, in case you’re interested in knowing more about “pay to potty,” is a clip from the article linked to above.

…Third grade students at Mill Plain Elementary earn play money that they can exchange for treats, KIRO-TV reported. The money can be used to buy things like popcorn or small toys, but it is also used as a bathroom pass.

In two cases last week, children chose to spend money on treats instead of bathroom breaks, and wet themselves because they didn’t have enough money for a trip to the restroom, according to their parents.

The investigation began after posted a story in which Jasmine Al-Ayadhi said her 9-year-old daughter, Reem, wet herself in class as a result of the “pay to potty” policy.

“I’m so angry!” Al-Ayadhi told “When a child has to pay money to use the bathroom…It’s inhumane. That’s a health issue.”

Al-Ayadi said she didn’t have a problem with policies that teach students the value of money, but that making students use it for bathroom breaks was outrageous…

After the report, a second parent, Merchon Ortega, filed a similar complaint saying that her daughter, Lilliana, also had an accident in the same class on the same day…

According to, Ortega’s daughter had the $50 needed to use the bathroom, but didn’t want to spend it on a bathroom break. Al-Ayadhi’s daughter said she wanted to buy popcorn like her friends, and was told she couldn’t use the bathroom if she didn’t want to pay…

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  1. John Galt
    Posted May 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Children should bring their own toilets to school. Tax payers shouldn’t have to provide pooping and peeing facilities.

  2. Tango Uniform
    Posted May 28, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Libertarian philosophy is filthy fascism. And libertarians are just candy coated republicans. Why aren’t these depraved psycopaths rounded up and shot through the head ? It worked for Chairman Mao Tse Tung, and China is the most powerful country in the world.

  3. Posted May 29, 2014 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    I was interested in the story of the teacher you mentioned.

    While I feel terribly for the children, I think that it teaches us a valuable lesson.

    Spending the money on toys and treats makes great economic sense. The toys and treats require capital investment, labor to produce them and competition for market share, even among toddlers, can improve quality and expand opportunities for both workers and investors. Toilets, on the other hand, do little for the economy outside of perhaps providing a few stable custodial jobs. However, the benefit to the public is great and equal among all individuals.

    Thus, the experiment should be proof that certain items are public goods, and there is little merit in subjecting it to the pressures of the market. Health care would certainly fall into this category. In my view, the state has to support public goods like toilets in schools or health care. Otherwise the market for toys and treats (or TVs and cars) can’t function properly.

    Perhaps this was the lesson the teacher was offering? I doubt it, but it would be really cool if it was, even if horribly abusive to the children (who never consented to be part of the experiment).

  4. Elf
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Why not charge them to see a school nurse if they’re bleeding? They should learn that nothing is free in life.

  5. XXX
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I’d pay to potty on the collected works of Ayn Rand.

  6. John Galt
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Effective Bullying Techniques 101

  7. TeacherPatti
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I’ll be your very first teacher, Mark! It will be wonderful. I’ll look forward to being paid about $2.00 an hour or so…”because that’s what the market will bear”.

  8. Posted May 29, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    To add on to what Mr. Galt said…I did have to bring my own toilet paper to school while I was in Detroit. It was only at the end of the year, but still. I also had to print stuff at home and take a bet as to whether the copier would be working. I never thought about charging the kids per page–GENIUS!

  9. Mr. X
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    The Simpsons apparently had the idea first.

  10. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Jeah I’m definately with “Tango Uniform” on this one, there is a vital need for a Maoist left here in the US. Global fascism is clearly on the move, both here in the US and in the Eurozone. Liberals (for all their allegedly good intentions) are still ideological capitalists, they are tainted in their thinking by the magical thinking of infinite economic growth and “sustainability”, there must be some substantial left to counteract this fascism here and abroad. White hegemonic nationalism must be stopped, simpliciter. These people cannot be reasoned with, you cannot take the proverbial ‘moral high ground’ when you’re dealing with fascism, fascism must be smashed in the mouth with a brick. Eventually we will have to round these swine up for re-education in an (ultimately fruitless) attempt to salvage human civilization after global capitalism collapses.

  11. Sparklemotion
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    China didn’t get powerful until it shook off the worst shackles of Maoism. Mao could have saved himself a lot of bullets as well considering between 20 and 40 million of his own people starved under his policies in four years time.

  12. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Jeah, capitalist China is doing so great, what with 50% of chinese dying of diseases directly related to producing products for our consumption, and their having to grow economically at an impossible rate of 10-15% per year in perpetuity or else face cascading systems failures which will destroy the world economy, etc. but hey, they have the world’s largest structure, the Three Gorges dam, which is so large it has slightly effected the Earth’s orbit…so they have that going for them too. You go for a visit to Beijing “Sparklemotion” and see the neon, rayless, purple sun in a grey sky filled with photochem smog and tell me how awesome capitalism in China has worked out.

  13. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    You talk about 30-40M people like it was a lot, since WW2 the US has killed at least that many in it’s over 200 wars of hegemonic capitalistic aggression, in order to establish the global system of techno-totalitarianism we so enjoy (which is BTW the major driver of global climate change). We are worse than the worst excesses of Maoism or Stalinism, an avowedly racist surveillance-state with 2M people in panopticon slave-labor rape factories, callously brutal military style police with zero regard for your “rights”/wellbeing, and a permanent racial/economic underclass army of reserve labor for plutocratic manipulation…but hey ‘we’re #1 we’re #1 we’re #1…

  14. Sparklemotion
    Posted May 30, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    I was referring to “Tengo Uniform”‘s assertion that China is a powerful country and how that somehow relates to Maoism. However, your description of the US sounds a lot like every Maoist / Communist regime that has existed. I won’t argue that the US has unjustly murdered a shitload of people in wars, but in the end it’s a lot different than starving your own as a direct cause of attempting to implement your ideology. Is it time for capitalism to go? Probably. Maoism is the incorrect replacement and would lead to the same dystopian result.

  15. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 30, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Oh yes, I must have neglected to notice the difference (in our favor) between starving to death in a chinese workcamp, and getting doused in flaming white phosphorus from an unmanned drone no one saw coming until it was already raining globs of molten fire onto your Yemeni wedding party. I also must have missed the other major difference, also in our favor, between attempting to bring a medieval farming society into industrial modernity within a single generation in order to eventually be in the running for the most powerful nation on Earth vs maintaining your global hegemonic totalitarian economic system via endless global war and enough nuclear warheads to eradicate the entire Earth 26X. I said I wanted a Maoist left in order to effectively fight “libertarian” fascism, not “Maoism” to replace capitalism. Something tells me you’ve never read any of the pertinant literature on Mao’s thought, and are just another apologist for neo-liberal fascism.

  16. Maria Huffman
    Posted May 30, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Am I the only one who noticed the kid’s last names?

  17. AndyC
    Posted May 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Liberal alternative version…
    Student: “Can I go to the bathroom?”
    Teacher: “Yes, OR you can have popcorn instead.”
    Student: “Popcorn!”
    Student 2: “Can I pee myself for popcorn too?”
    Teacher: “Why not.”

  18. Posted June 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I had another idea. I have some braille writers that need to be repaired and large print books to be mended. Maybe kids as this school could fix them (the little fingers are perfect for these jobs!) as a way to earn a potato that they could then heat up on a stove heated with wood that they chopped? There’s no such thing as a free lunch and it’s best to learn that now!

    (I’m writing this after I made the mistake of reading the comments section on MLive earlier today)

  19. alan2102
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Thom: there is a maoist organization/party in the U.S.:
    “Maoist/third-worldist”, in their words.

    Sparklemotion: “China didn’t get powerful until it shook off the worst shackles of Maoism.”

    “Worst shackles”, eh? Life expectancy under Mao skyrocketed, from a miserable/feudal 35 or so to over 60 — inside of a single generation! A spectacular accomplishment. It was mostly because Mao insisted on peasant/rural-oriented development, including improved nutrition, basic medical care, public health/hygiene programs, etc., all for the common people. Since things changed in the late 70s, toward a more capitalistic system, (i.e. more rich-people-oriented, more urban-oriented), the gains have slowed and to an extent reversed; e.g. the mortality rate leveled off (during the Mao years it was falling off a cliff, due to the programs mentioned) and has actually trended up somewhat.

    Supporting statistics can be found in this recent paper (behind a paywall; sorry):
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1209396 Science, 581 (2011); 333
    China’s Demographic History and Future Challenges
    July 31, 2011

    “Mao could have saved himself a lot of bullets as well considering between 20 and 40 million of his own people starved under his policies in four years time.”

    That’s the kind of characterization that is popular here in the addle-brained, capitalist propaganda-besotted U.S.

    Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?
    Jun 6, 2011 by Leading Light
    Myths About Maoism
    Common misperceptions
    1. As many as 30 million died in the Great Leap from famine and
    execution caused by Mao.


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