I turn to you in the hopes that you will be able to give me your opinion on this gift giving question. Will you please, if you are inclined, let me know what you think of this pitch from the kindergarten room parents at my daughter's school?
One of the standard practices at Blank Elementary is to collect money from parents to pay for gifts for Ms Smith during Teacher Appreciation week, around the holidays, and at the end of the school year. Parents find that doing a group collection is an efficient way to handle gifts. The Room Parents put together an budget for how the money will be spent during the year and determined that $35 per child is the right amount. As each event comes up, we'll ask for ideas and and opinions so the gift-giving will be a group decision. If you'd prefer not to take part, that's perfectly fine, but please let us know so we can plan accordingly.
I have never heard of such a thing, but I am new to Massachusetts and perhaps they really -do- have a "standard practice" like this. However, this is Ms. Smith's first year at the school, and so I am skeptical (in addition to being slightly appalled).
Oh, I'll tell you what I think all right: ACK. That is what I think: ACK. My coloring is HIGH PINK right now. I don't like the tone of it; I don't like the wording of it; and I think $35 per child is a ridiculous amount. If there are ten students, that's THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS for teacher gifts in a single year---and in my kids' kindergarten classes there have been more like fifteen (FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS) or twenty (SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS).
Furthermore, "group decisions" on gifts tend to SUCK. If my previous experience with such things is a guide, what will happen is that the room parents will come up with several ideas nobody likes (including the teacher), and no one will be up to arguing about it, and so the room parents will just make all the decisions and everyone will feel dismayed at the way their money is being wasted.
I would absolutely "prefer not to take part." I would say, "No, thanks, we'd prefer to do our own shopping for gifts!" in a cheery voice. I would also talk with other parents if I knew them: I've found that with things like this, sometimes everyone thinks everyone else is okay with it and they don't want to be the only one "preferring not to take part." I don't mean starting a bitchfest behind the room parents' backs---just a casual, "Did you get the thing about $35 per kid? I'm not doing it, are you?" Some parents probably WOULD find it easier (and even a relief) to just write a check for the whole year, but a lot of parents are going to be thinking what we're thinking, which is "WHUH???"
If the suggestion were, "Look, we all know the teacher would rather have a $100 Target gift card than twenty $5 ornaments and boxes of chocolate, so let's pool our dough," I would be IN---and also HAPPY, because this seems sensible. But that's not what this is. This is the room parents asking for, say, six hundred dollars of other people's money, which they will then have control over---and in the process removing the actual feelings of generosity and appreciation from the gift-giving occasions. DO NOT LIKE.