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Old 08-28-2011, 11:03 PM
 
9,484 posts, read 15,085,779 times
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Oh, and watch the politics of gift-giving!

years ago, I bought a fairly expensive gift for a teacher who wasn't popular with the other teachers, so, guess I was "taking sides" with her. It was one of those things, when others don't like somebody, they don't have to have a reason, just follow the herd. Well, unfortunately, I didn't follow the herd, and my kids were ostracized for that---oh, she likes the teacher no one else likes, so, lets keep her out of our clique.

It was better times, we made more money, it was my kids kindergarten teacher, I spent ~ $50 on a perfume gift set that came with a matching scarf, but it overdid it, made the other mothers p'od at me, guess you can't win!

Like I said, it gets better in middle and hight school, the teachers aren't quite so clannish. We are struggling to come up with money to buy my dd a homecoming dress, that's what's important now, not some kiss butt gift for the teacher.
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:50 PM
 
5,748 posts, read 10,523,597 times
Reputation: 4494
Then don't participate, Marylee, and let that be the end of it.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:00 AM
 
5,703 posts, read 15,545,597 times
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My son is in high school and I can't recall one time in all those years anyone... PTO or teachers that request me to put in for gifts. I mostly got hassled for fund raising. That went toward the school itself. What an odd situation.
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:31 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
302 posts, read 572,103 times
Reputation: 164
I read some of the posts, and I am glad I'm not the only one who finds the whole "room mother" concept somewhat awkward.

Are you really going to tell me that the room mother's child will be treated exactly the same way as all of the other kids?

If the child misbehaves, will he/she be reprimanded the same as other children, or get away with more?

If I meet with the teacher and tell her the room mother's child has been mean to my daughter, will the other child be punished or get more lenient treatment?

Will the teacher give a lower grade to the room mother's child knowing it likely means the oh-so-helpful room mother will likely be less-than-helpful when the Cs or Ds start to roll in?

Teaching is one of those professions you have to be careful in to not show even the appearance of impropriety or favoritism. Room Mothers seem to me like a very easy way to go down that slippery slide of quid pro quo.
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:00 AM
 
214 posts, read 590,599 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
Crazy kiss-ass parents, of course, do not = "teachers demanding presents."
You are right, to an extent. But teachers do have control over the kind of school culture they wish to cultivate. I know gift giving has been a cause of friction between teachers in more than one school in my district. At one school, a group of teachers got together and tried to suggest at a staff meeting that the school set a policy that would end personal gifts, and instead suggest parents contribute classroom supplies, books, etc. The majority of teachers refused to sign on, because they wanted the gifts.

There are some teachers who are uncomfortable accepting personal gifts from parents, as accepting a generous personal gift may imply to that parent that they will be viewed more favorably, have increased access to the teacher, or that the teacher somehow owes them or their child special attention. This falls under conflict of interest laws that apply to public employees, and in my state, after a huge scandal involving the speaker of the House being sent to prison for taking bribes, the state sent a notice to all school superintendants regarding gift giving to public employees. There have been concerns for years across the state that the gift giving to teachers had gotten out of control, and that lavish gifts were being used to impact things like class placement, and college recommendation letters.

At my elementary school, parents were sometimes harrassed for money by room moms, sent multiple e-mails, phone calls, even confronted on the playground and put on the spot. Last June, my friend got an e-mail from the room mom looking for money for a teachers gift, saying she wanted "100% participation", and wanting the names of those who did not intend to give. I read it, it read like an extortion letter. My friend has three kids, her husband was out of work for four months and had to take a new job at a pay cut. She ignored the e-mail, but was concerned that there would be some impact on her child for not participating.

The teachers at my former elementary school have the power to stop the nonsense, but they prefer to receive the personal gifts.
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:19 AM
 
15,807 posts, read 13,239,318 times
Reputation: 19705
This whole thread makes me deeply grateful this is my last year teaching.

I have never asked for any supplies beyond a lab notebook and something to write with.

My school does not nor would I participate in fund raising (tho I suspect it is not fund raising for the school but rather for extra curricular activities or clubs).

I have spent on average $400 a year on my classroom and students despite the fact that I am lucky enough to work in a well funded district. I have bought everything from food to school supplies to a pair of sneakers last year for my students.

I also work through out the summer with no additional pay and my benefits are not "great" compared to what I used to make in private industry. Despite all of that I loved teaching and I was damn good at it. So why am I leaving? Because it's one thing to take lower pay for something you love but it's entirely something else to take lower pay and the disrespect so typical of parents these days as exemplified by this thread. I have already signed my contract for returning to my old job. More money, more respect, less hours and I will miss my students everyday.

Last edited by lkb0714; 08-29-2011 at 10:20 AM.. Reason: Phone typing typos.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:03 AM
 
214 posts, read 590,599 times
Reputation: 444
Just to clarify....the OPs original post was about being solicited for personal gifts for teachers, not classroom supplies. I and many other parents fully support donating supplies to the classroom, and understand how funding cuts have devastated districts. I do not believe teachers should have to provide these things out of pocket. In addition to purchasing my own childrens supplies, I have always sent donations in, cleaning supplies,tissues, paper towels, pens and pencils, etc. I also have purchased larger items, like a fan for a teacher whose classroom was very hot. I have never objected to the solicitation of supplies and classroom items, and recognize its simply an economic reality that districts cannot provide these items. In addition, I have gone out of my way to send in personal, meaningful gifts to teachers that have made a difference....a book that I thought they would enjoy, a rare cactus plant for a teacher who does a unit on the Sonoran desert, a personal note of gratitude.

However, I DO object to the way many schools allow the pressuring and rude solicitation of parents for personal gifts for teachers, for many many reasons. I am not talking about a $25.00 gift certificate to Staples, I am talking about wads of cash, $250.00 mall gift certificates, expensive jewelry, and designer hand bags. This is especially egregious in a school like mine, where several classrooms were NOT well equipped, dirty, with outdated materials. I also believe there are ethical issues with allowing a "room mom" who is acting as a representative of the PTO, to collect cash with no accounting. PTO Today has run several articles about parent embezzlement, and we actually had a few items stolen from our school that could not have been taken by children. We had a few situations where hundreds of dollars were collected by the room moms, and it was unclear how much was spent on the gift.

Sorry to post so much on this thread, but this topic is a sore spot for me; I never saw this type of graceless, tactless demanding of money for "gifts" until I moved to the suburbs. Maybe it comes with the pervasive sense of entitlement that seems to go hand in hand with suburban living.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,850 posts, read 19,638,180 times
Reputation: 6480
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
This whole thread makes me deeply grateful this is my last year teaching.

I have never asked for any supplies beyond a lab notebook and something to write with.

My school does not nor would I participate in fund raising (tho I suspect it is not fund raising for the school but rather for extra curricular activities or clubs).

I have spent on average $400 a year on my classroom and students despite the fact that I am lucky enough to work in a well funded district. I have bought everything from food to school supplies to a pair of sneakers last year for my students.

I also work through out the summer with no additional pay and my benefits are not "great" compared to what I used to make in private industry. Despite all of that I loved teaching and I was damn good at it. So why am I leaving? Because it's one thing to take lower pay for something you love but it's entirely something else to take lower pay and the disrespect so typical of parents these days as exemplified by this thread. I have already signed my contract for returning to my old job. More money, more respect, less hours and I will miss my students everyday.
There is certainly nothing wrong with fund raising events in order to obtain goods or services for the school. If students need to raise cash to pay for a school event I have absolutely no problem with them holding school fairs or selling baked goods in order to raise the necessary funds.

It is one thing to ask people to contribute towards a school sanctioned event, and a completely different thing to ask people to contribute for one's own personal benefit.

I also spend around $400 per year on the general supplies that I need for my business, and I am allowed to deduct from my taxes the amount I paid for those general supplies.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:29 AM
 
5,748 posts, read 10,523,597 times
Reputation: 4494
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glitch View Post
I also spend around $400 per year on the general supplies that I need for my business, and I am allowed to deduct from my taxes the amount I paid for those general supplies.
I'm not an expert in tax law, and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the tax benefit is available to teachers. As a parent, however, this is one of the reasons I choose to make one large donation to the school, requesting a receipt, at the beginning of the year.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
17,850 posts, read 19,638,180 times
Reputation: 6480
Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
I'm not an expert in tax law, and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the tax benefit is available to teachers. As a parent, however, this is one of the reasons I choose to make one large donation to the school, requesting a receipt, at the beginning of the year.
Yes, the IRS tax deduction is also available to teachers. I have to use Schedule C for my business, but a teacher can claim the deduction on their 1040 form.

Quote:
If you are an eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married filing joint and both spouses are educators, but not more than $250 each) of any unreimbursed expenses [otherwise deductible as a trade or business expense] you paid or incurred for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. For courses in health and physical education, expenses for supplies are qualified expenses only if they are related to athletics. This deduction is for expenses paid or incurred during the tax year. The deduction is claimed on either line 23 of Form 1040 (PDF) or line 16 of Form 1040A (PDF).

Source:
Tax Topics - Topic 458 Educator Expense Deduction
I am also not allowed to deduct the software I purchase, except through amortization over a five year period because the IRS considers software to be an intangible asset. However, that does not appear to be the case with teachers.
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