Friday, December 9, 2011

Tis' The Season....To Make Teachers Feel Like Criminals...

....Fa La La La La...La La freakin La!

Ok, so my tune does not sound very merry.  I got that.

The local news channels are covered up with the report warning parents about giving gifts to teachers this year.  Our lovely state of Alabama has decided to enforce the strictest ethics laws in the country this year regarding gift giving to teachers.

Here is the gist of the story borrowed from our local news station....

"An Alabama teacher who accepts a Christmas ham or a $25 gift card from a student is breaking Alabama's ethics law. The possible penalty? Up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine for the teacher who accepts the gift.
The law, which took effect earlier this year and is considered one of the toughest in the country, limits what public officials and employees can receive as gifts to a "de minimis" value, but it doesn't define that amount.

In an advisory opinion Wednesday, the Ethics Commission said "hams, turkeys or gift cards with a specific monetary value are not permissible." Items of nominal value, such as homemade cookies, coffee mugs and fruit baskets, are acceptable. "

You may be thinking that this maybe rubs me the wrong way because, I like to get "stuff".  That couldn't be farther from the truth.  It's not that.  I don't care about the 'monetary value' of the gifts I get.  It's just the point of the whole matter. 

The values in our country are really screwed up.

A professional basketball player's salary is often in excess of 25 MILLION dollars per year.
A pro baseball player can surpass even that.  Alex Rodriguez' salary for 2011 was 32 million bucks.
Football is no better, with salaries passing the 20 million mark.
(These amounts are not including indorsements and gifts, of course.)
116 million went into Lady Gaga's bank account last year because she sings songs and wears weird clothes.
Johnny Depp made over 100 million for his work in Alice in Wonderland and Pirates of the Carribbean.
James Cameron, the movie director, made 257 million dollars last year.  For making movies.  257 million. For making movies.  $257,000,000.00!!!

A teacher in alabama starts with a salary of around $31,000.

That's messed up.

Within just the last week, I have done ALL of the following....
Bought shirts for a craft for students in my class who couldn't afford them.....with my own money.
Supplied snacks to my students so they wouldn't have to go without one.....with my own money.
Bought paint, ribbon, and crafts supplies......with my own money.
Bought Christmas gifts for my students......with my own money.
Spent my 'free time' painting t-shirts and crafts.
Supported every fund raiser that our school had by buying everything from cookie dough to chances on an ipod to barbeque plates.......with my own money.
Cleaned up pee, wiped noses, soothed tears from tummy aches, and applied band-aids to boo-boos.
And, of course, I taught 18 kids the skills they need to be successful in school.

I do not teach to make big money.  No one does. You will not find a teacher....anywhere....who teaches for the money.  And we certainly don't teach for the gifts we get. We do it because we love the kids.

Some parents really do try to show their appreciation to us. The gifts they give are usually not much, but they are certainly appreciated. We, as teachers, just enjoy the little "thank you"s. 

The new law is a slap in the face to teachers.

Telling students and parents that they are no longer allowed to give a teacher a ham (or other similar illegal gifts) for Christmas because it has too much value, but allowing entertainers and sports stars to get salaries upward of 25 million......

That 's unethical.

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Lisa W. said...

That is ridiculous! I used to teach special needs preschooler for our public school system and couldn't even begin to tell you how much of my own money I spent on them. I agree that Alabama's law is a slap in the face to teachers - teachers are already under-appreciated enough!

Miss Trayers said...

Wow! I just cannot believe someone took the time to legislate this. You are absolutely correct-the values in this country are very skewed. Unbelievable to me. It worries me where we are going in this country education-wise.

Karen said...

You said this better than I ever could have! THANKS! This law was written to stop the corruption of lawmakers. But, it is the "little people" (a.k.a. the teachers) who pay the penalty.

Tonya Criswell said...

You know the story about good ol' Teddy Stoddard? The one where he loved his teacher so much that he gave her the perfume and bracelet from his mom? Well good ol' Teddy who loves his teacher so much, would have gotten her arrested or cost her $6000.00 according to this new stupid law!!!

Tonya Criswell said...

Don't know why that posted twice, but maybe that is a measure of how much the new law disgusts me!!! Double!!!

Blissful & Wishful said...

I can't believe this! What a story. I'm a teacher too and can totally agree that it isn't for the money at all and that our values (pun intended) are screwed up in this country.