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Tis the Season

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How much is too much? That's the question in one Boston-area district, where a committee is considering a $50 limit on gifts from students (and their parents) to teachers. The new policy at schools in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, would not cap group gifts. In other nearby districts, gifts to teachers are frowned upon or banned, and grateful students are encouraged to write letters of appreciation or make donations to the school instead. Concerns include conflicts of interest and inappropriate gifts, like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar one teacher received. And at some schools, wealthy parents go overboard with large cash gifts others can't match. The teacher-gift pitfalls are numerous, but gifts remain a nice way for students to show their appreciation to hard-working and low-paid educators. What's your take? Should the tradition be reined in, or even eliminated?

14 Comments

This is ridiculous. If a parent wishes to provide a teacher with a gift, so be it. I have taught in inner-city schools and schools of wealth, and either way this boils down to a parental decision. Leave the government out of this one.

I can't say that I have ever gotten a gift that was above $50 dollars, but the gifts I like the best are the ones that students make. This year I got a lot of homemade ornaments for my classroom tree. Those kind mean the most to me. You can't buy a teacher with a gift anyway. If we were motivated by money and nice things, we wouldn't be teachers of all things.

So, schools would like gifts to teachers to go to the school. If parents want to show appreciation to teachers, let them. I for one, would appreciate cash rather than yet another box of chocolates, regardless of how delcious it might be. As for homemade ornaments--that's fine in elementary school, but I can't see it in high school.

And for the occasional time we teachers do get cash (I've yet to see anything like $50!), guess what it gets spent on? Classroom materials; however, we do get to buy the little things for the class that we want--not what the administrators want. The last thing we need is for more money to be be misspent by "the school!"

Sure, there's inequality in who can give what, that's reality. Nevertheless, don't think it's the richest parents who are the most thoughtful. That's simply not the case. My personal experience is that the most thoughtful gifts come from the parents who really appreciate what we teachers are doing for their children.

It's also a bit insulting to suggest that teachers appreciate a gift based on its dollar value. What we appreciate is the effort and the thought behind the gift. Nor are we so unethical as to favor one student over another because of gift giving.

Simply ridiculous... I do not see the harm in a teacher accepting a gift from a parent or student. I have enough common sense to realize that it should not influence any decision of mine. The school/district administrators want to get their greedy hands on something that is being given to a teacher in appreciation of their hard work. I guess the school/district administrators don't get paid enough. :-/

The best gifts I have ever been given have been personal notes from a student or parent. "Things" just cause clutter anyway, and I would much rather hear the positives of how I was able to touch someone's life. If they are giving a gift because they feel obligated, I don't want the gift.

If it's really the thought that counts, set the limit even lower -- $5 or $10.

I think it's naive to think that many teachers will not, at the very least subconsciously, be influenced in their interactions with/decisions regarding children whose parents have given generous gifts.

Another intrustion of government into the lives of individuals. Imagine ... giving money to yet another level of government instead of to the individual who provides the service. Another very poor idea.

At the public schools I attended, parents used to give teachers trips to Switzerland and expensive jewelry. Nowadays, they attempt to "buy" teachers (and good grades for their kids) with out-of-school tutoring jobs that pay more than $100 per hour. The rule for gifts should be: under $10, or homemade, and no tutoring kids who attend the same school.

Again another area where "someone" wants to control someone else's behavior. Let me guess...this proposal came straight from the same people who want to control the curriculum and the way we present it, too? And the same folks who don't want us to hand out a 5 calorie piece of candy as a reward, but have no problem with the cafeteria serving chili cheese fries with nacho chips? If there are gigt-giving abuses, then deal with those - don't make a "rule." Personally, the best gift I ever got was from a little boy who came up to me all smiles and gave me a baggie of hot cheetos with a marker-drawn bow on it. I cried all night long, because I knew that his family was poor, and that he had gone through their cabinets himself and selected something that he thought I would like. One year I got a $100 gift certificate to a restaurant in town and I took my whole family out to dinner. Trust me, the child's grades were never compromised - I taught kindergarten at the time. It was a wonderful gift, and the family could afford it. That was the most expensive gift I ever received, and that was 8 years ago. If a school is having problems with parents expecting special treatment because of gifts, then I would think that the teachers themselves would want to devise a policy limiting gifts. A policy coming from teachers is very different from a policy dictated by administrators.

As a parent of two middle school students and one high school student, teacher gifts are too much. (That would be 21 gifts if it was done equally.)

As a teacher the best gift a student gave me was one that had a lot of thought not cost. This student bought me a package of 24 pencils. I am constantly giving pencils to my scatter brained middle school students. It was a very thoughtful gift, not expensive.

I am happy with any gift. The dollar amount is irrelevant. I've never gotten anything extremely expensive and notice that some of my richest parents give the cheapest gifts with the least thought. Some of my poorer kids, however go out of their way to pick out something especially for me. They choose what to give, and if they aren't quite to my taste, they mean more because it came from their hearts. I ave never in life given a better grade to someone who gave a better gift. As most teachers know, we are often least appreciated by those we do the most for.That doesn't stop us from giving ourselves above and beyond for kids whose parents criticize us for the fact that we can't compensate for years of family educational neglect. A gift is a nice gesture and if I'm given one, it's appreciated. If I don't get one, it doesn't change a thing.

This is backward-think. Instead of limiting gifts to teachers parents should be encouraged to give expensive gifts to teachers. Things like yachts, Hummers, diamonds (large ones!) and big chunks of cash. Personally, put a Honda 750 Shadow on my list and I'll be as happy as a hog in slop.

I'm on the fence over this gift thing. It is true that some of the best gifts I've received were from children who appreciate my teaching and know my passions - nature, saving the earth, people loving and respecting others for who we are. On returning from a cruise, a child asked me to close my eyes and placed a perfect shell in my hand. He said, "I knew this would be very special to you!" At the end of the year last year, I was given a 3-tiered planter in which one of the moms hand picked and planted beautiful flowers that bloomed until the frost. I look at these precious gifts and remember why I went into this profession in the first place. As a teacher - underpaid, overworked, but still loving it, it would be sad to see the option dictated by my administrators or legislators.

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  • John: This is backward-think. Instead of limiting gifts to teachers parents read more
  • mindi: I am happy with any gift. The dollar amount is read more
  • Kimberly: As a parent of two middle school students and one read more
  • Michelle Bergey: Again another area where "someone" wants to control someone else's read more

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