US school board considers $100 cap on ‘out-of-control gift-giving’

Teachers oppose move, saying ‘we know the difference between a bribe and a gift’

A group of schools in the US is set to vote today on introducing a $100 cap on presents teachers can receive from parents, in a bid to curb a culture of “out-of-control gift-giving”.

Parents from Arlington County, Virginia have started dispensing with traditional tokens of gratitude like home-baked goods or festive trinkets, instead pooling their resources to give their children’s educators gift cards filled with hundreds of dollars in hard cash.

Sitting just across the river from Washington, DC, the area covered by the Arlington County School Board is one of the wealthiest in the country.

Yet this has contributed to spiralling competition among parents to be seen giving the best gifts. Some even ask their children’s teachers to fill out questionnaires on their hobbies and favourite shops, so that they can personalise presents accordingly, the Washington Post reported.

The board, which oversees policy at a number of schools, was praised by some parents for trying to scale down the issue. One mother wrote to board members, signing her letter simply “Mom to three”, saying she had been forced to cut back on gifts to friends and babysitters this year in order to keep up with other parents at school.

“I felt so much pressure to not be that mom that was talked about for not showing up with a gift in hand,” she wrote.

Another mother, Tammy Beatty, told the Post she disagreed with the idea of a cap. “They spend all day with our kids,” she said. “And you just feel like you want to gush over these teachers and take care of them.”

Board member James Lander said the vote had been called for in an attempt to prevent favouritism towards pupils with apparently richer, more generous parents, adding that the news of who had received the latest extravagant present was now a common topic of conversation among teachers.

“In life, everything is not equal, but there should be boundaries for what we operate within,” Mr Lander said.

The cap, if implemented, would apply for the duration of a single academic year, and would be discounted for homemade gifts or items intended for classroom use.

Jaim Foster, the president of the Arlington Education Association, has nonetheless opposed plans to impose rules on gift policy, calling it unnecessary.

“Educators are ethical people who make ethical decisions daily on lots of topics, and we know the difference between receiving a bribe and receiving a gift out of appreciation,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...