Our son is attending a very academically competitive charter school this year and the booster club sent out this note about a month ago about teachers’ holiday presents. (I edited the note to take out the name of the school.)
From the Boosters:
“Staff holiday gift collection donation deadline is Wednesday, December 11th!This holiday season, show your gratitude to the dedicated teachers and staff at XXXXX. They are not only role models who exemplify hard work, commitment and a passion for learning, but they are devoted to helping your children reach their highest potential.”
“Please consider a small donation to the All Staff Holiday Gift Collection – show that you appreciate and support those who invest so much in our students. Put your gift in the boosters general mailbox, located at the front office. Make checks payable to the boosters with a notation on the memo line “Teacher Holiday Gifts.” Cash contributions should be in a clearly marked envelope. Please include your child’s name and grade. Holiday cards will be made for every teacher and staff member on behalf of your student. Funds collected will be split and presented to the teachers and staff. XXXX policy prohibits teachers from accepting gifts of anything other than nominal value, so this is your chance to give! Act now and cross it off your “To-Do” list!”
I found this note very interesting because it really goes against the normal attitude at schools about teacher gift giving. The charter school seems concerned about parents using the gifts to garner favoritism. Generally at schools, whatever the parents come up with is acceptable. Our classes at the elementary school routinely give a teacher a $200 gift card. ($10 a parent.) But at the charter school they don’t want the teachers to feel pressured to hand out good grades to the big givers.
The only other time I have seen this approach was for teacher’s appreciation day at the middle school last year. They asked for gift cards saying they would be evenly distributed among the teachers.
I mentioned one day to my son about him bringing a particular item to one of his teachers saying I thought the teacher would enjoy it. (I can’t even remember what the item was.) But I remember he was appalled. “That would be like bribing a teacher. You can’t give them anything!” He was very serious.
So on Friday I had several university students give me an ornament that they all signed. They also gave me a coffee gift card. It was a $15 coffee card from four girls. Another student also gave me a sweet thank you and another $15 gift card. I got a little worried that maybe I shouldn’t take the gift cards so I wrote the dean to see if it was OK. I know the students just meant it with love and kindness but I don’t want to get into trouble. I haven’t turned in my final grades yet but I don’t think the coffee cards would influence me to give higher grades. So we’ll see what she says.
How does your school view teacher’s presents? Can they be viewed as a bribe? Should they all be handled how the charter school is doing it? Or hey if it’s a teacher everyone likes, they should get a good gift?
Update: Dean wrote back to say follow newsroom policy: Anything more than $25 give back or give away. The AJC was very serious about this when I was an editor. We were sent so much stuff and never kept anything. I was the children’s editor and got soo many movies, books, toys. And we gave it all away.