Thanks But No Thanks

It happened that I was sitting at my desk during my lunch, reading the local newspaper, when I spotted an article about new ethics requirements for teachers who receive gifts from students. How ironic that this discovery was on the day before our Holiday break — and that 5 students had given me a Christmas present that very day!

The new regs seem like a knee jerk reaction to some larger issue, and far removed from the tokens that kids bring to their teachers. It’s not as if the students I have from families with limited monetary resources are buying me a day at the spa. The geniuses behind this regulation  can make all the noise they want about “bribery” and undue influence as evidenced by a present for teacher. If a good grade or college recommendation can be “bought” with a $25 Dunkin Donuts card, image what $250 could buy.  Valedictorian?

So this morning, in addition to handwriting thank-you notes — because THAT’s the polite and accepted social norm  I want to model for my kids — I dug through the website and found the form I need to complete. I’m including the link here for anyone else teaching in the Commonwealth’s public schools (hmmm, do Charter School teachers need to do this too?).

Despite my appeal for no gifts (I have a treasured collection of notes from students),  some parents and students still give gifts at certain points in the year,  Christmas being one of those times. I dread Valentine’s Day — I’ll have to refile this form for every cardboard box of candy a student brings.

So here’s what I’ve needed to declare in order to disclose “the appearance of a conflict of interest” (I kid you not, this is the title on the form!):

  • 2 packages of Ferrero Rocher chocolates
  • 1 Country Apple bath set
  • 1 Cherry Blossom bath set (hmmmm, are the kids trying to tell me something?)
  • 1 dozen butter cookies in a ziplock baggie
  • a 2009-2010 calendar (priceless!)
  • hand lotion and a jar candle
  • handmade eggrolls to share with the class and 1 chocolate homemade cupcake

I might add that, in the spirit of not allowing presents to impact my professional decisions, I did complete a behavior report on one of the gift-givers after the students aimed a pencil at another student in the classroom (missed!) and used inappropriately foul language.

Good grief!

2 thoughts on “Thanks But No Thanks

  1. Two things:
    1. I read the same article and your comment:
    “If a good grade or college recommendation can be “bought” with a $25 Dunkin Donuts card, image what $250 could buy. Valedictorian?”
    …mirrored mine.

    The idea that a college recommendation can be bought for a baggie of cookies or package of chocolates speaks volumes about those who created the regulations. They obviously don’t think highly of teachers’ values. According to them, the value of a college recommendation is not very high.

    2. The items you received have all the markings of gifts from the heart. It is a travesty that those actions are being conflated with those of dubious or questionable motives..

    Great lesson for young people.. No good deed goes unpunsished…

    1. It does make me weep, David. Another instance of those who don’t have a clue making up rules to “catch” us?

      One of my favorite gifts was of course the calendar — with an attached note explaining that this was all the student could offer — and that I was a good teacher. The students, who has been in this country for just a bit over a year, obviously wanted me to know we had a connection. It kind of reminded me of Amahl and the Night Visitors….

      I filled out my stupid, silly form for what it is worth, only because I am at the age where I might inadvertently forget something. But unless someone directs me, it’ll sit in my briefcase where it can get shuffled around with all the other important paperwork.

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