The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission has nixed teacher gifts worth more than $50. Foul or fair?
The crazy-high level of competition in schools -- both private and public -- has upped the ante on teacher gifts, but some states are out to control this free-for-all in the interests of fair play. For instance, the article reports that the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission is on a mission to get crack-a-lacking on a new ethics law that "forbids public servants, including teachers on public payrolls, from receiving gifts with value in excess of $50." Those who violate these laws get fined.
David Giannotti, spokesman for the State Ethics Commission, told the Globe: "People need to understand that teachers are public employees and subject to the conflict-of-interest law. Gifts have a tendency to unlevel the playing field and can be exploited." Giannotti added that even a gift that was less than $50 could violate state law if it was given in the hopes of creating favoritism, such as changing a kid's grade or giving the child a positive recommendation.
The article goes on to mention that the Emily Post Institute says both public and private schools should be instituting a spending limit on teacher gifts, as opposed to the ridonkulous bonuses some California teachers copped to receiving, like Prada bags, Rolex watches -- even HDTVs.
Lizzie Post, a spokeswoman for the Institute, says, "The worst gift is cash, which comes across more as a bribe when a public official is involved, unlike holiday tips given to a personal trainer, dog walker or babysitter."
Teachers are among the hardest-working humans on the planet, and there's no question they deserve whatever kindness comes their way. However, laws like these still allow for parents to express their appreciation -- while taking the heat off of the many facing financial hardship this year.
What do you guys think? Should there be restrictions imposed on teacher gifts for the sake of fair play? And if so, what are cost-effective ways parents can show their appreciation?
|Vivian Manning-Schaffel has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. She authors two pop-culture blogs -- The Mad Mom and A Hag Supreme -- and is on the Web at vivianmanningschaffel.com.|