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?
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.