Alabama teachers could receive jail time for accepting Christmas gifts from students

posted at 1:50 pm on December 14, 2011 by Tina Korbe

This is a prime example of the way “the few” can ruin it for “the many.” Because a few parents have sent their kids to school bearing over-the-top presents for Teacher, the State of Alabama Ethics Commission has decided that some Christmas gifts equate to bribes. A new ruling from the Commission prohibits teachers from accepting certain gifts, including gift cards, hams and turkeys. The Washington Post’s Janice D’Arcy has more:

Many states and some individual schools ask that parents and teachers respect certain gift-giving guidelines, but Alabama’s law is far tougher than most. A teacher who is caught in violation could receive jail time and a fine of up to $6000.

According to an Associated Press story the Alabama Ethics Commission said teachers should have to abide by the same conflict-of-interest laws as lobbyists because “The suggestion that it is harmless for a school child to give a Christmas gift to their teacher ignores the potential for abuse.”

D’Arcy talked to a teacher friend of hers to find out whether teachers allow gifts to influence the way they treat students. Her friend says she does her best to not be influenced by presents — and that, particularly in the case of a child with behavioral problems, she’s not any more or less apt to overlook infractions because she did or didn’t receive a present.

On some level, the ethics ruling makes sense: Why not remove entirely the temptation to treat children differently according to the presents their parents prepare? But on another level, this is indicative of the general trend toward overcriminalization in our nation today. And overcriminalization has broad and negative consequences for our country. The proliferation of laws and prohibitions means both that more law enforcement becomes necessary and that laws are likely to be broken on a more regular basis, either because citizens aren’t aware of the law or because they find it petty. That, in turn, gradually erodes the rule of law.

Let’s apply the basic principle of subsidiarity here: The state is not “the most local level” at which this “problem” could be solved. Teachers ought to be able to solve this issue on their own. If they sense that they’re unduly influenced by presents, they could ask parents to refrain. Failing that, individual schools could establish gift policies.

Or, as an entirely different solution, we could accept that children with involved parents do have an advantage in school and life — and, instead of seeking to limit the activity of such parents, focus our time, attention and effort on encouraging absent parents to be a bit more present for their children.

Last thought: This ruling, as with so many senseless policies, assumes the primacy of the material over the personal or spiritual. That is, it assumes that material presents buy children an advantage immaterial presents — like gratitude, politeness and diligence in the classroom — could never purchase. But no doubt a heartfelt thank-you note to a teacher would, in most cases, curry just as much favor as an elaborate gift.


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Comment pages: 1 2

This is getting ridiculous, or actually, far beyond ridiculous.

bigdicksplace on December 14, 2011 at 1:52 PM

I live by a simple rule: Government always knows best.

Bishop on December 14, 2011 at 1:54 PM

While I can agree in some cases with this idea, Tina…

Wait, when you say gift cards, do you mean Christmas card-type cards, or Debit-card type gift cards?

Also, I’d like to point out that in many professions (including my own, engineering), the code of ethics of those professions forbid not only impropriety (such as accepting bribes), but also the appearance of impropriety. As a result, I cannot accept any gifts from someone that I work with.

Now, this probably shouldn’t be criminalized, but a discussion of the ethics of the issue could probably be worthwhile.

Scott H on December 14, 2011 at 1:55 PM

If you send your children to school with gifts for the teacher, the gov’t thinks you might be a terrorist, and therefore subject to indefinite imprisonment without a trial until the end of the War on Terror.

cavalier973 on December 14, 2011 at 1:55 PM

This just proves one thing.. there is no slippery slope and the government never goes over board/

melle1228 on December 14, 2011 at 1:55 PM

i loved going to school when i was younger and giving my teacher something for Christmas. i was happy and excited to do it. but that was a time when men were men, and society wasn’t infested with freaks. ahh, the memories!!!!

GhoulAid on December 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Teachers can say they won’t be influenced. But they will be influenced whether consciously or sub consciously. It’s a well established psychological effect…give someone a gift and the person feels the need to pay it back. In this case the payback is favoring the student.

angryed on December 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

10th Amendment!!11 Let state governments decide everything for themselves!1!

That is, until we disagree with a law or policy enacted at the state level. Then it’s all about “subsidiarity”.

theodore on December 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

My spouse has a student whose parents make the best fudge for classroom Christmas gifts. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

myrenovations on December 14, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Makes sense. Didn’t you see the size of Ralphie’s bribe to Mrs. Shields? There was enough fruit in that basket to feed a platoon for a week!

Akzed on December 14, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Theodore: There is nothing wrong with arguing against a state law with a subsidiarity approach, if the state is the improper level of dealing with it.

Really, the 10th Amendment is subsidiarity hardwired into the federal government by law.

Scott H on December 14, 2011 at 1:58 PM

While the ethics training educators are forced to go through is a pain in the neck, its definitely necessary. If you want to show your appreciation to a teacher, donate your time or money to charities that support education or tutoring for under priveliged kids etc. Buying someone a present at the mmoment they are giving grades is very shady.

libfreeordie on December 14, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I went to school in Alabama and when I was a kid and gave a teacher a gift in my mind it was just doing something nice for them.

EnochCain on December 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

I teach privately. I receive gifts from my students all year round and I always give gifts to them at Christmas. Heck, I even hug them back when they hug me. Deal with it.

sisterchristian on December 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

…In a related story, some Alabama children are being threatened with jail time if they’re actually taught and learn something useful.

search4truth on December 14, 2011 at 2:04 PM

So there goes the “quickies” from the divorcee’s…what a shame.
Personally I think this is a good idea.
Government is doing such a good job in education, they should be more involved…

right2bright on December 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

10th Amendment!!11 Let state governments decide everything for themselves!1!

That is, until we disagree with a law or policy enacted at the state level. Then it’s all about “subsidiarity”.

theodore on December 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Didn’t make a big enough fool of yourself in the Gosnell thread yesterday?

Scrappy on December 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Is it OK for a kid to bring an apple to the teacher, just so long as it’s not an iPad?

The Monster on December 14, 2011 at 2:07 PM

You home schooled kids better not give your teacher a gift either!

birdwatcher on December 14, 2011 at 2:07 PM

How about ALL TEACHERS accept gifts, are they going to arrest all of them?

We need to start standing firm on issues like this. We are the majority.

M_J_S on December 14, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Didn’t you see the size of Ralphie’s bribe to Mrs. Shields? There was enough fruit in that basket to feed a platoon for a week!

I thought of Ralphie, too. Kids have been bringing the teacher apples and gifts for decades. Has the favoritism suddenly reached epidemic proportions?? If so, then maybe there is a problem with the teachers they choose to hire….

Of course, the real hilarity is a government body pretending that they are concerned with the corruption that money can buy.

goflyers on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Does this policy just apply to Christmas gifts, or does it apply to gifts generally?

Foxhound on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Heck, I even hug them back when they hug me. Deal with it.

sisterchristian on December 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Teaching…gateway to corruption
Teaching…gateway to pedophile
Teaching…not a gateway to education.
Here we have a 25-40% drop out rate, and they are worried about some gifts to students…

right2bright on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

i dont even like christmas and i know this is insane…

Drunk Report on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

If I had an Ipad I don’t think it would make it to my teacher.

EnochCain on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

I don’t know why this has to be a law… aren’t teacher’s licensed?

When I held my Certification we were ethically required not to receive gifts from clients. Depending on circumstances I am sure the Certification could have been suspended or revoked if someone was taking gifts.

Should/isn’t this (be) the case with teachers?

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Heck, I even hug them back when they hug me. Deal with it.

sisterchristian on December 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

somewhere, in some lib school/city/town, hugging students is sexual harrassment. you just know it is.

GhoulAid on December 14, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Of course, the real hilarity is a government body pretending that they are concerned with the corruption that money can buy.

goflyers on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

The people who made the rules? Let’s see what “gift” is at their desk during the holidays…

right2bright on December 14, 2011 at 2:09 PM

We’re finished as a society. Done. Back up the truck.

Red Cloud on December 14, 2011 at 2:09 PM

My mother was a teacher. Her favorite homemade card from one of her students read:

Dear Mrs. (Fallon),

You are a witch. You yell at us.

Signed,
(Student name)

She truly loved that card and kept it long after all the silly soaps, perfumes and potholders were gone.

I can see giving a gift card (I often gave gift certificates to teachers for teacher specialty supply stores) but who gives hams and turkeys? Is that a Southern thing?

I have also briefly taught, and I must say, personally, a little gift or lack of a gift never influenced me one way or another. They are nice but they are not that important in the scheme of things.

Fallon on December 14, 2011 at 2:10 PM

This is something that should be dealt with by school district policy, not State. It is akin to a company establishing a limit on employee gifts to bosses.

tdarrington on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Should/isn’t this (be) the case with teachers?

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

No, if your post is indicative of what open registration has wrought on us, it is going to be a long season…

right2bright on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Because everybody knows people can’t govern themselves.

Speakup on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

What about birthday gifts, are those out of bounds also?

birdwatcher on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

This is precisely why every small village needs a fully militarized SWAT team,…to handle these kinds of emergencies.

a capella on December 14, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Is it okay to say Merry Christmas?

birdwatcher on December 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM

We’re already paying the teacher. Enough already.

J_Crater on December 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Cash-equivalent gifts are a problem when the teachers begin to rely on the aggregate amount as income. Parent teacher conferences could be interesting : “Junior is doing well this semester but unfortunately your envelope is a little light”.

We see the greed and disservice done by teacher unions. Why have the burden on the parents who “undergift” to then prove that their child didn’t get the grade-bump that other students got?

A $10 limit might work. Eliminating the gifts all together seems simpler.

OptionsTrader on December 14, 2011 at 2:14 PM

I can understand a plausible problem of teachers tending to favor a student who gives gifts all year long, but a gift for Christmas is a onetime occasion. I find it hard to believe a onetime gift for a special event would cause teachers to favor a student.

Seems like overkill.

plutorocks on December 14, 2011 at 2:15 PM

How about God bless you if a teacher sneezes?

birdwatcher on December 14, 2011 at 2:15 PM

My son gave a gift to his teacher this year. When we talked about what he wanted to give his teacher he lite up like you wouldn’t believe.

tjbhab on December 14, 2011 at 2:15 PM

MCMLXXXIV

FlatFoot on December 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I’ve always been amazed at how frequently Tina attempts to lend the wrong side of an issue credibility with statements such as, “On some level [a bad idea] makes sense.” I’m still trying to understand how and why ethical teachers would favor particular students based on… a Christmas gift?

I have young children in school, and it’s amazing what is PROHIBITED even in private schools today that used to be part of the childhood experience. Because some parents can’t be responsible, we have to ban certain items or activities for ALL kids. Now, because some teachers may be corrupt, we have to ban gifts of gratitude for everyone because we can’t or don’t want to hold corrupt teachers accountable.

It’s quite interesting that the political solutions to such problems always involve restricting liberty, accountability, and common sense. It’s also interesting that the politicians and administrators who advocate such solutions are rarely impacted by them.

jgoodish on December 14, 2011 at 2:17 PM

Fox ran an Over-Criminilazation piece a few weeks back on how the experts don’t even know how many Federal Criminal Laws existed. The Liberal Prosecutor explained…“Its good to have all these laws that people are unaware of, it gives us leverage in prosecuting the bad guys.” (paraphrased)

So wrong, at so many levels…

Afterseven on December 14, 2011 at 2:18 PM

I live by a simple rule: Government always knows best.

Bishop on December 14, 2011 at 1:54 PM

It looks like you finally got your mind right, boy.

Query: Do the teachers go to jail if gifts of taxpayers’ money are given to their unions?”

What’s good for the goose…etc.

Horace on December 14, 2011 at 2:18 PM

At some point in the last 60 years, someone hit the “reverse” switch that made personal freedom and responsibility irrelevant and government regulation the only solution.

I’d really like to find that person and have them switch it back.

Tennman on December 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

theodore on December 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Good Lord. Don’t you understand that it’s possible to believe in a greater concept while critisizing an individual component of it?

Rather than get into a discussion of the concept of states rights considering the ability of a state to enact a stupid law, how about I give you a simple example so you’ll understand:

Do you love your wife? Yes? Well then, what is there that you sometimes don’t like about her?

BacaDog on December 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

No, if your post is indicative of what open registration has wrought on us, it is going to be a long season…

right2bright on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Is your beef with my accidentally putting “be” after “this” or my opinion that the law is not appropriate and the Licensure conduct requirements for teachers should be adequate to discipline teachers who are out of line in regards to receiving gifts.

If you didn’t like my grammar… feel free to fix it

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Makes sense. Didn’t you see the size of Ralphie’s bribe to Mrs. Shields? There was enough fruit in that basket to feed a platoon for a week!

Akzed on December 14, 2011 at 1:58 PM

That’s the first thing I thought of when I read the post! It didn’t get Ralphie very far, that’s for sure…I’m so sick of all the fun-killers!

ellifint on December 14, 2011 at 2:20 PM

It is for reasons like this that I spend a lot of money to send my child to a private school.

Macgawd on December 14, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Wow… how do I get the last five minutes back.

This is not overreach or a problem Tina. This is a sensible rule that lots of places have. I have a friend who holds a rather high position in the state government and I can’t take him out for lunch. He is meticulous about obeying the rules. My first job at Burger King had the same rule about staff accepting gifts and tips. If kids and parents want to thank a teacher they can write to the school and say what a great job that teacher is doing and give to the school… they accept gifts but not individual teachers. It’s pretty easy to work with and being against the rules is NOT criminalization.

lexhamfox on December 14, 2011 at 2:21 PM

The War on Christmas continues! Damn those overreaching, blue state … oh wait

ombdz on December 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

I’m not sure why people assume that a member of a Teacher’s Union would be:
1. Immune to bribery
2. Able to self-police themselves

ThePieman67 on December 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

I have one kid in private school and another in public school. The PRIVATE school has a rule against giving teachers gifts (the parent association gives each teacher a nice gift from the student body).

The public school has a book of wish lists for teachers available to all. There is also a teacher appreciation week where parents are shaken down for money and also encouraged to send gifts on their own.

Some days I feel like the fancy private school is the better bargain.

Laura in Maryland on December 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

When I was in school, we really didn’t give Christmas gifts to the teacher. But I have teachers in my family and know that they receive a ton of odds and ends. When did this change?

firegnome on December 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Bribing teachers is OUR job!

/NEA

mankai on December 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Well, of course, we shouldn’t taint the teachers with Christmas.

tinkerthinker on December 14, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Couldn’t schools simply make a rule that gifts to teachers have to be something the student makes or bakes? As a kid, I loved baking cookies to give to the teacher.

ansonia on December 14, 2011 at 2:24 PM

lexhamfox on December 14, 2011 at 2:21 PM

No you cannot get your five minutes back… but you might have to spend five more minutes on it… the post is about a law in Alabama… not a rule.

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:25 PM

I can see the headlines. 3rd grade student and his teacher arrested on bribery charges for illegally transferring an apple.

R3volution on December 14, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Is it okay to say Merry Christmas?
birdwatcher on December 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Homophobe.

Bishop on December 14, 2011 at 2:26 PM

lexhamfox on December 14, 2011 at 2:21 PM

How can writing a letter to someone’s boss singing their praises and donating money NOT be considered bribery, but an apple is?

sisterchristian on December 14, 2011 at 2:27 PM

What an outrage!

A bunch of brown-nosing brats can’t bribe their teachers anymore.

Pablo Honey on December 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM

How about God bless you if a teacher sneezes?
birdwatcher on December 14, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Misogynist.

Bishop on December 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM

It never occurred to me that a plate of cookies or a box of chocolates would sway a teacher into giving my child better grades.

I’m inclined to think that those who think it could may be the type of person who is for sale themselves. Projection?

katiejane on December 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM

So, let me get this straight. A teacher, with her pen poised over the report card to write in C+, suddenly looks at the super cool gift of HAM little Johnny received and thinks, “That boy’s gettin’ a B+ so the ham doesn’t stop rolling in.”

This might be true of your teacher’s name is FIDO. But honestly I think most teachers are a little better (and not all that hungry for ham) than this.

MAC1000 on December 14, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Who buys teachers presents anyway?

dgarone on December 14, 2011 at 2:32 PM

It does seem ridiculous, but I can also understand the ethical concerns. So why not set a dollar limit on the gifts they can receive – just like what Federal and State legislators live under.

JohnAGJ on December 14, 2011 at 2:32 PM

This is precisely why every small village needs a fully militarized SWAT team,…to handle these kinds of emergencies.

Yep! Doesn’t Alabama have better things to Than pass rules regarding gifts to teachers from students? They’re one of the lowest ranked states for education in the country! maybe a bit more attention to oh reading and math and a bit less to stupidity!

KimS on December 14, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Meh.

I was out just this morning buying movie theater gift cards for my kid’s teacher and all the aides in his class.

My son is on the autism spectrum, and I see the gift cards as a “thank you” and an opportunity for them to have a well deserved night out. After all, they’ve been managing an entire classroom full of kids with all sorts of behaviors day in and day out for months. That’s an extremely hard slog, and the fact that they’re willing to do it makes me very grateful.

Desert Gardens on December 14, 2011 at 2:34 PM

On the plus side, one less gift to buy…

TampaIllini on December 14, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Bribing teachers is OUR job!

/NEA

mankai on December 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

*ding ding*

We have a winner!

Laura in Maryland on December 14, 2011 at 2:35 PM

Ok, Reading, writing, and arthmatic

Oil Can on December 14, 2011 at 2:38 PM

First of all, the ethics law changes were sorely needed because of 136 years of rule by the Democrats in Alabama. There was a decided lack of ethical behavior going on here! It was one of the first orders of business once the new legislators went into session earlier this year (and the Republicans gained the majority in both the House and Senate).

Second of all, the ethics laws are written to cover all public officials and public employees, and makes no distinction between legislators, city councilpersons, school teachers, or other public employees.

From an advisory opinion by the Ethics Commission:

“The following list, while not all inclusive, sets out some types of gifts that are acceptable for school teachers to receive:
1) Fruit baskets, homemade cookies, etc.
2) Christmas ornaments of little intrinsic value
3) Coffee mugs filled with candy or of a holiday nature.
4) Any item that the teacher may use to assist him/her in performing his or her functions as a teacher, such as notebooks, school supplies, etc.
5) CDs or books of a nominal value, scarves, etc.

It should be pointed out that gift cards may be given at any time, not just during the holidays, to teachers or to schools to allow the teacher or school to purchase items for the benefit of the class.”

I hope that helps clear some of this up.

Agnbama on December 14, 2011 at 2:41 PM

I don’t know why this has to be a law… aren’t teacher’s licensed?

When I held my Certification we were ethically required not to receive gifts from clients. Depending on circumstances I am sure the Certification could have been suspended or revoked if someone was taking gifts.

Should/isn’t this (be) the case with teachers?

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Yes – cause these little people that I spend more waking hours with than their parent – yeah, I totally think of them as my clients.

miConsevative on December 14, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Bribes are you kidding me, if that was the case when I was younger my whole class should have graduated with A averages, every single one of my classmates always gave our teachers a christmas gift. I now have a daughter in school and again every single one of her classmates have always given the teacher a christmas gift, and A’s are give only to the students who do the work and do it correctly. With all the major problems this countries has, christmas gift for teachers is what they are focusing on??? Well I guess then I am being silly to be concerned about things like: the government’s out of control spending, out of control regulations, the government looking the other way when illegals pour into this country, the government walking guns into Mexico then losing them, which has resulted in American and Mexican deaths, these walked guns are now turning up at multiple crime scenes, I can go on here but I would be typing all day and I don’t have time for that, all when I guess the real 100% focus should be on if giving teachers christmas gifts equals bribing them. I know the Christmas season is sometimes call the silly season but this beyond stupidity, this is approaching insanity.

Beastdogs on December 14, 2011 at 2:43 PM

All the kids have to do when giving the gift is say “Happy Kwanzaa/Feliz Navidad/Belated Happy Ramadan” *wink* and they are off the hook. Anyone who goes after them is an instant racist.

/

Christien on December 14, 2011 at 2:43 PM

It does seem ridiculous, but I can also understand the ethical concerns. So why not set a dollar limit on the gifts they can receive – just like what Federal and State legislators live under.

JohnAGJ on December 14, 2011 at 2:32 PM

A thoughtful, handmade card with a heartfelt message from the student has more value to a good teacher than something much more costly.

miConsevative on December 14, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Unlike the other professions where gifts are considered unethical, I always thought it was a teaching moment for children. I believed that people helped their children buy presents for teacher to show them how to be thoughtful to someone who is important to them. For elementary students, especially, their teacher is someone who looms very large in their lives. I remember saving up my money in the weeks leading up to Christmas so I could buy my teacher something I thought was special, because I thought she was special.

Now it is just condsidered a bribe?

How sad.

But really, if it has come to that, couldn’t the school just adopt a policy of No Personal Gifts and let it go at that?

Lily on December 14, 2011 at 2:48 PM

The War on Christmas continues! Damn those overreaching, blue state … oh wait

ombdz on December 14, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Progressives from the North and West are infiltrating the Alabama educational system. It’s the same approach used by Muslims who are immigrating to the now secular countries in Europe. When Christians fail to keep Christ’s commandment to “…go and make disciples of all nations…”, the result is what is happening in Alabama and Europe. I should know, “I’ve met the enemy and he is me”.

bigaccountant on December 14, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Now the soft bigotry of low expectations moves from students to teachers. Some teacher somewhere might be unduly influenced by a bouquet of flowers, a batch of homemade cookies, or a gift card from Staples, so let’s rob every child of the joy of giving what he chooses to the person(s) he probably sees more of than his own parents.

“Johnny, we have to choose a gift from this list, so no one will be offended when you earn As on your report card.”

bteacher99 on December 14, 2011 at 2:51 PM

miConsevative on December 14, 2011 at 2:42 PM

That wasn’t my point… My point and question is: A teacher’s license has a code of conduct attached to it. (I am assuming) Is this not enough to discipline teachers who are out of line in regards to receiving gifts? Meaning if they are receiving gifts of such high dollar value as to seem to cross the line from kids gift to bribe.

I don’t mean that kids giving teachers gifts are wrong and think teachers are perfectly capable of getting a gift from Timmy without it affecting their grading.

I agree the law is an overstep.

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:52 PM

government overreach

Amjean on December 14, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Wow…I thought we had it bad here in Minnescrotum…

MooCowBang on December 14, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Well my goodness. Here I thought my kids were doing well in school because they work hard and are well behaved. I guess it’s really those $1.00 candle jars the teachers get each Christmas.

Time to let the kids get lazy!!! I think I’ll have them be the charter members of FOWS. Future Occupy Wallstreeters that is.

MississippiMom on December 14, 2011 at 3:01 PM

That wasn’t my point… My point and question is: A teacher’s license has a code of conduct attached to it. (I am assuming) Is this not enough to discipline teachers who are out of line in regards to receiving gifts? Meaning if they are receiving gifts of such high dollar value as to seem to cross the line from kids gift to bribe.

I don’t mean that kids giving teachers gifts are wrong and think teachers are perfectly capable of getting a gift from Timmy without it affecting their grading.

I agree the law is an overstep.

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I don’t see it much as a certification issue. Teacher certification is a joke as it does little to test the actually qualities that would make someone a good teacher and involves skads of hoop-jumping which is a complete waste of time.

The issue lies in the unuions that keep administrations from being able to discipline teachers. But now, if a teacher doesn’t teach Johnny a thing through the year, he’s off scott free, but if he accepts a ham from Johnny he’s in handcuffs. The unions and teacher certification have eliminated any opportunity to evaluate teachers on how well they actually teach. Hams or no hams.

miConsevative on December 14, 2011 at 3:03 PM

I feel more judgement from not participating in the teacher’s chosen charity drive. Jeez. They guilt my kids into begging for this and that for this and that disadvantaged group. I’ll decide what, how much and where my charity goes. We let the kids chose one per year for school only. Do the rest in private.
I’m getting the 7 yo’s teacher a coffee mug though – he can use all the help he can get!

hazchic on December 14, 2011 at 3:05 PM

I see nothing wrong with a child making a handmade gift for their teacher, but I am afraid gift giving might be getting out of hand in my school district.

My children are infants so school is a few years off. However, I have heard from numerous parents of kindergartners that the teachers expect gifts during teacher appreciation week, their birthdays, and Christmas. The gifts have become elaborate and somewhat expensive, including debit type gift cards to popular stores. These moms complain that they feel pressured to give these gifts because they think a child will be prevented from attending class parties or other fun events if they don’t bring a gift for the teacher. When I said that this is actually bribery and an abuse of power, everyone got really quiet. After the awkward silence, the subject got changed.

I am not really sure how to handle this. It seems really wrong to me. Teachers shouldn’t be accepting gifts like that.

bitsy on December 14, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Just fine to “donate” to politicians though.

Socmodfiscon on December 14, 2011 at 3:09 PM

As usual, the law overreacts and overreaches, but the law wouldn’t have to be created if people on both sides of the issue behaved ethically.

Over the course of my kids’ school years, I’ve seen the holiday gift situation abused by both parents and teachers. While the worst abuses occurred in private schools, I’ve seen it in public schools, too.

As awful as it is that there are parents who think it’s perfectly okay to bribe teachers into overlooking little Johnny’s bad behavior or into writing a glowing recommendation letter for an lackluster student come college application time, it’s just as bad that there are teachers who accept these gifts.

My husband, who is in a position to hire advertising and PR agencies for a very large company with deep, deep pockets, is obliged to follow very strict gift-giving guidelines. Teachers should be as well. Anytime a potential recipient is in a position of power, gift-giving guidelines should be set.

If both parents and teachers could be counted on to behave ethically, there would be no need for a law. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Carolina21 on December 14, 2011 at 3:10 PM

miConsevative on December 14, 2011 at 2:42 PM

That is a shame that teachers don’t have the support they need to improve professionally.

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 3:13 PM

I wonder how many A’s that turkeys worth????

Pomai on December 14, 2011 at 3:14 PM

But really, if it has come to that, couldn’t the school just adopt a policy of No Personal Gifts and let it go at that?

Lily on December 14, 2011 at 2:48 PM

The policy is covered in detail in the link Tina provided.

It’s not just ‘Christmas gifts’ specifically, though the misleading headline here might cause one to think that the case.

Foxhound on December 14, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Come on people. The law doesn’t state there can be NO gifts from a student to a teacher. It simply states there is an upper limit for the value of such gifts.

Here in Bama, all teacher pay is determined at the state level. This is due to the (recently castrated) Alabama Education Association (yes, our education union). Other recent reforms include no more double dipping (working a made-up college job while serving in the legislature, for example) and no more state collection of union dues. We’re also a right-to-work state. If any of this sounds familiar, it should, and these reforms were sorely needed. The AEA was way too powerful in Montgomery.

Public school teachers are govt employees. If I can’t, as a defense contractor, give so much as a ride to the firing range to a govt employee I work with without being in violation of ethics laws, teacher gifts from students should be similarly limited. Is this really such a big deal outside of the editorial offices of the WaPo?

runawayyyy on December 14, 2011 at 3:19 PM

So if a kid calls his teach “cute” and gives her a gift, they can BOTH go to jail.

Mean while, those home schooling are actually focused on TEACHING…

SPCOlympics on December 14, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Well I guess Right2bebright is a hit and run type.

Should/isn’t this (be) the case with teachers?

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

No, if your post is indicative of what open registration has wrought on us, it is going to be a long season…

right2bright on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

No, if your post is indicative of what open registration has wrought on us, it is going to be a long season…

right2bright on December 14, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Is your beef with my accidentally putting “be” after “this” or my opinion that the law is not appropriate and the Licensure conduct requirements for teachers should be adequate to discipline teachers who are out of line in regards to receiving gifts.

If you didn’t like my grammar… feel free to fix it

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Just incase you didn’t realize I responded to you.

Achele175 on December 14, 2011 at 3:21 PM

The law only allows gifts of “de minimis” value, but it doesn’t set a dollar amount.

You might think this is a bad thing but last year, my daughters grades the quarter after Christmas went down with no explanation the grading period after. The last day of school prior to the Christmas break my daughter came home crying due to the fact that the teacher pointed her out for not giving her a gift in front of the class.

Now I as a government employee can not except anything over $10 from anyone without having to claim it. But the teacher are exempt? does not wash with me, they are government employees also.

and Yes, I live and work in Alabama.

OldRanger on December 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM

That creates an interesting dilemma for parents who home-school their children in Alabama. So much for the tennis bracelet I was going to give my wife for Christmas…

;-)

Mr. Bultitude on December 14, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Just who ARE these selfish pigs. Typical moron libs, wanting to impose their values (or lack thereof) on the rest of us. Kids giving Christmas gifts to teachers dates back decades… and NOW somebody bitches?

ultracon on December 14, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I live by a simple rule: Government always knows best.

Bishop on December 14, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Is your bunker government approved?

BTW, “Bishop’s Bunker” would be a great name for a reality show….

tom on December 14, 2011 at 3:31 PM

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