Should teachers get cash gifts from parents?

Just read an interesting article in the Globe and Mail on parents giving cash gifts to teachers at this time of year. Can’t provide the link here as I have used up my own gifts for the month. However an excerpt follows below. What is the practice where you live on this?

Have gifts for teachers gone too far?

It has recently been brought to my attention that some parents in Toronto are soliciting others for cash gifts for public school teachers. This has not, to my knowledge, caught on at my own child’s school, but gift cards for teachers are an established tradition in Canada, and a Washington Post advice column urges giving schoolteachers cash at the holidays.

And there is a case for giving teachers cash. Many parents want to thank teachers, and this is the traditional teacher-thanking time of year. A monetary gift (or generic gift card) is a way to avoid guessing wrong and inadvertently offending with a gift that references a holiday the teacher doesn’t observe, or home-baking something the teacher’s allergic to, or handing them some knick-knack that isn’t to their taste, and that they will now forever associate with your child.

But if teacher gifts are of the cold-hard-cash variety, they start to seem a bit like holiday tipping. Much like rounding up by 15 to 20 per cent on your latte, the monetary gift-giving becomes all the more important with the cost of living skyrocketing. Yet high grocery bills and housing costs also mean fewer funds available to the would-be tipper.

Teacher gifts differ from gratuities in key ways. Sending your child to public school is not a luxury. It’s not like going to a restaurant. And there’s no straightforward redistribution case for teacher gifts being cash. For daycare, perhaps, but teachers earn less than some public-school parents, more than others and quite a bit more than baristas. Teachers work hard and deserve the gratitude they get, but there are also non-monetary ways to show appreciation: a handmade card comes to mind.

My own kid’s public school organizes numerous charitable endeavours at this time of year, some in the school and some from the class itself. It’s about helping those who have less – a worthy value, and one it would be weird for a school not to instill.

These charitable efforts are on top of the donations of classroom materials for the school itself, as well as year-round fundraising campaigns – events where you pay a surcharge for pizza or whatever and it helps pay for school programs. All of this is easier for some families than others.

Put a nominal cap on the value (like $20) of whatever gift (cash, gift card, item) and call it good.

Who on earth would gift a canadian teacher cash? Id be embarrased to do that, because no way am i paying anything other than a token amount. Gift cards all the way, if anything.

Fwiw canadian teachers start out with decent wages and can hit six figures easily, and july and august off, and gold plated benefits and pensions. Which is arguably a bit much, until you consider what seems to be the american model. Id be happy to have my kids in almost any public school in the country, education is decent and pretty uniform. In any event, teachers can use a thank you, but they dont need money.

UK: card and gift
Brazil: card and gift
Spain: card and gift

Giving cash would be very weird.

I don’t recall giving anything, either as a parent or a student, to a teacher as some sort of social contract.
Last thing I would want our society lower itself to is tipping for teachers, which turns into “money for grades.”

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A teacher I know recommended Amazon gift card or cash.

Why I think there should be a cap on a nominal amount.

We often donate supplies, games, books, snacks, and our time in the classroom to our kids’ teachers throughout the year. And we often give a gift card at the end of the school year. We don’t do anything specific to Christmas, though. Partially because it’s not a holiday everyone celebrates, and partially because it’s already a very expensive time of year and each of our kids has 3-4 teachers now.

in my district, the stated rule is that they are not supposed to accept gifts above some low-ish threshold in value (like the $20 someone mentioned above).

does it get violated? Yes. I know some parents who told me they gave something nicer to a teacher, but it was still under $100.

a married couple of friend’s taught in a neighboring and far wealthier district. one of them apparently admitted that the holiday gifts from those parents could add up to real money. It was hinted at that the couple collected way over $1000 worth of such gifts. which is bonkers to me and makes me wonder if favoritism or other ways to spread attention unevenly were the sort of thing that would certainly follow.


First thing that popped in my head was that pesky required annual ethics training.,performance%20of%20their%20job%20duties.

I propose $0.

Canadian teachers are better paid than American teachers. And they have stupidly good retirement benefits. But based on my experience they can not easily top 6 figures. 70k is around where they start to top out without getting into adminstration.

That would be my view for a number of reasons.

My SIL teaches high school chemistry and makes almost $100K per annum. He is very professional and would be insulted to receive gifts from parents. His wife is a nurse and would be similarly insulted.

However they give a gift to their daycare teacher. But that group is usually underpaid.

70k Canadian $$ doesn’t sound like a lot.

I think the whole card & gift thing is way more prevalent at younger ages.


Its always done. Kind of dies out when the kids get older though.

Better than poor districts in the states…

Sounds like an organized crime racket.

Ontario pay grid:
10 years experience and nothing else, making almost 80k. So early 30’s, that’s pretty good. A few part time degrees and you’re at 100k or close enough. Plus summers off and about the best benefits and pension you can get.
I’m not complaining, just saying, it’s a well paid profession.

That is similar to BC. My SIL has 10+ years’ experience and a Master’s degree.

Alberta teachers get paid even better.

There is also the pension plan which is worth more than 20% of pay. And all the time off. No tips for these guys!

Well, I don’t want to imply overpaid.
Or more correctly, perhaps mildly overpaid, but I would defend that as reasonable given the quality of our public schools.
I went to a rural high school with 300 students and the teachers we had were outstanding. We didn’t have a wide range of courses, but what we did have was every bit as good as any other school. Math teachers were extraordinary.