Recently the Boston Globe ran an editorial in support of gift limits for teachers. I can’t relate.
First of all, working in a high poverty, urban school district, I don’t have the experience of parents buying outlandish gifts at the holidays for junior’s teacher. Sorry. It’s all my families can do to put food on the table and pay their rent. The thought of a parent purchasing a spa card for me just is not on my radar. I say this without regrets or envy. And honestly, some of the money amounts written about in the Globe editorial ($2,000 is an amount I remember), are outrageous. They may not be intended as such, but it sure seems like a kind of bribery or influence that could get in the way of honest conversations about children and their schooling.
I don’t need monetary recognition or rewards from parents. Really. When I worked in a private school, I generally asked parents to donate to a local charity — if they were so inclined. I don’t really want for anything. And now, as a teacher in a high poverty system, teacher gift-giving puts pressure on any parent who is struggling to make their paycheck last.
So here’s what’s on my “wish” list:
I would like our elected officials – those in charge of money allocations for school budgets – to stop short-changing school systems. The budgets are cut to the bone. Less is more is getting just a bit tired. In my world, less just means I fund what supplies are needed from my own pocket. I’m not talking about construction paper for optional art projects here. I’m talking about binders and notebooks and pencils and tissues. Yesterday a Globe reader wrote a letter citing a amount close to $500 per year paid out of pocket by Minnesota teachers as if it were outrageously high. Well, that is. But I routinely spend between $100 and $200 a month on my classroom. You do the math.
Secondly, I would like the Globe to stop talking out of both sides of its collective mouth. You can’t trash teachers and the teachers’ unions one day and then kiss up that teachers need parent respect in the form of some recognition the next. Gratitude starts with you, Boston Globe. Either you respect what teachers do or you don’t. Stop whining that teachers are unfair whenever we don’t go along with the privatization, whether it’s vouchers or Charter Schools, and when we point out that we are not teaching commodities but actual humans who have variations bean counters can’t even fathom.
And lastly if one really wants to thank me, write a note telling me about something you appreciated. Better yet, send a copy of the letter to my Principal or Superintendent. Day in and day out teachers hear all manner of disrespect; after a fashion that takes a toll on even the most confident of educators. How refreshing and totally appreciated an unsolicited compliment would be!
So in the spirit of the holidays, I offer my Christmas wish list.