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 mass.gov 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!