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Late spring means the end of the school year—at least in the northeast! That means it’s time for school concerts, graduation ceremonies, and teacher gifts. What should you give? And should you give alone or with the class? We tackle this hot topic, plus some ridiculous stories about kids being shamed in school because they can’t pay for things like lunch and carnivals.
Would you rather have a transcript of the episode? There’s one at the bottom of the post!
Welcome to an encore episode of the Parenting Bytes podcast! We couldn’t get our schedules together to record this week, so we reached deep into the archives (I mean, this was all the way back when Amy Ever After was Selfish Mom!). This episode first aired four years ago, and I can’t believe how current it seems (well, except for the very end–are you still as enthusiastic about a Biden presidential run, Rebecca?).
One link, an article I wrote for the now-defunct Lifetime Moms website, no longer exists. And one has been updated: lunch is now free for all NYC public school kids, not just middle schoolers as we discussed in the segment about school lunch debt!
Everything else in the school shaming segment is still, sadly, relevant. Schools are still finding ways to embarrass kids for being poor, and it’s disgusting.
What is lunch shaming?
School lunch shaming is when a school punishes students because their parents are behind in their school lunch payments. Sometimes the school will deny the student the normal hot lunch that everyone else is getting, and instead give them a cheaper bagged lunch, what we call the cheese sandwich of shame.
Other times, they will simply deny the child food, which should be illegal. We go into it in the episode, and it’s infuriating.
And then, there’s the whole other issue of policing what parents are packing in their kids’ lunches, and shaming them for that, sometimes even throwing out food!
Great gifts for teachers
But on a happier note, it’s also time to give teacher gifts here in NYC! We realize that for many of you, the school year is over, and we think that’s just crazy, because we still have just shy of four weeks to go.
We’ve got some unique ideas for personalized teacher gifts, themed teacher gift baskets, and of course some inexpensive thank you gift ideas, because all of this end-of-the-year stuff can get expensive!
We also recognize that presents for teachers can be a sticky subject in some schools, depending on what the gift-giving rules are, so we also have some advice on how to give a class gift in the fairest way possible.
And for those of you who are done and already enjoying summer break? Just tuck these links away for next year, because if they’re still good links four years later, you can bet they’ll still be good in five!
This Week’s Links
When schools shame poor kids (00:02:30)
No pay, no play! Poor kids banned from school carnival, by Susan Edelman – NY Post
Carnival company to give free party for kids who missed out, by Susan Edelman and Beckie Strum – NY Post
This Mom Says a School Humiliated Her Children with Cheese Sandwiches, by Hilary Pollack – Vice
Mom Says She Was ‘Lunch Shamed’ by School for Packing Oreos for Daughter, by Liz Neporent – ABC News
Lunchbox Dad Makes Creative Sandwiches And Snacks For His Daughter’s School Lunch, by Dovas – Bored Panda
New York City Offers Free Lunch for All Public School Students, by Sean Picolli and Elizabeth A. Harris – NY Times
End of year teacher gifts (00:17:22)
Bytes of the Week (00:27:14)
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Announcer: [00:00:00] Welcome to Parenting Bytes with Rebecca Levey.
Rebecca: [00:00:03] We talk about the intersection of parenting and technology. Everything you need to know about raising kids in the digital age.
Announcer: [00:00:11] This is Parenting Bytes.
Rebecca: [00:00:15] Hi welcome to Parenting Bytes. This is Rebecca Levey of KidzVuz dot com and I’m here in the studio with Amy Oztan of Selfish Mom dot com.
Amy: [00:00:24] Hello.
Rebecca: [00:00:25] Hello Amy! And Andrea Smith, tech guru extraordinaire.
Andrea: [00:00:28] Hello.
Rebecca: [00:00:28] Hello Andrea! We’re all in the studio today and it’s like 40 degrees outside. Even though it’s June.
Andrea: [00:00:35] It is so cold.
Rebecca: [00:00:37] It’s so cold.
Andrea: [00:00:37] It’s like raining and cold and I would like to volunteer to send my rain to California.
Amy: [00:00:43] Yeah, no kidding.
Rebecca: [00:00:45] All right. Well since we can’t do that, on the show today we’re gonna talk about a couple topics since it’s the end of the school year. Some of you around the country have already ended, which I’m always amazed by the people who end like before Memorial Day or right at Memorial Day. I don’t know I, I feel for them. I feel like it’s too soon. But on the other hand our schools in New York City go way too long.
Andrea: [00:01:10] Oh, so long.
Rebecca: [00:01:11] So believe it or not we have four more weeks of school.
Amy: [00:01:13] And what’s the rationale. I mean I I’ve heard it’s because by June the school buildings are too hot. But aren’t they just as hot in August when they go back, because they have to go back earlier then.
Rebecca: [00:01:23] Oh those schools those that go back before Labor Day?
Amy: [00:01:26] Those other schools. Oh, there’s no rationale for New York City, that I’ve given up on. But no, for those other ones that get out so early I don’t understand it.
Andrea: [00:01:31] And I also talked to a friend someone who’s a teacher, a young teacher, she- this is her second year teaching, and she said the frustrating part is they’re done, like their classwork is in blocks and once a block is done, like three weeks before the end of the school year, there’s nothing to do, they’re legally not even allowed to start something new unless they can get through a whole block.
Rebecca: [00:01:54] Right. That’s just weird. All right. That’s a whole other thing. So the first thing in honor of the end of school, we’re going to talk about, the first thing is schools shaming students, one, and we’ll actual just get into it when we get into it. But we’re going to talk- it seems to be an epidemic of different size proportions and in different ways.
Andrea: [00:02:12] Supersize.
Rebecca: [00:02:13] Yeah seriously. And then our second topic is going to be teacher gifts. So I actually think this is a big point of contention for a lot of people but we’re going to delve into teacher gift ideas, what are great teacher gifts, and should we have teacher gifts at all, we will have that discussion. And then we’ll have our Bytes of the Week. So let’s jump in. I want to give a little bit of background, here in New York in Flushing, PS 120, and people would say to me, what is PS? It means public school. They’re all- every school in New York has a number, they’re all PS something.
Amy: [00:02:42] MS something.
School carnival shaming
Rebecca: [00:02:43] Or MS. Not the high schools, high schools have names. But anyway, PS 120 which means it’s a K through five school in Flushing Queens had a carnival which many many many schools have and they charge ten dollars to enter the carnival, it’s a fundraiser for the school. Students whose parents did not pay the ten dollars sat in the auditorium while their schoolmates, 900 kids in this school, went on the inflatable slides, a bouncy house, as twirly teacup ride, popcorn, ices, deejays, you know, but a hundred kids so almost 10 percent of the school had to sit in a darkened auditorium watching, you know, good old-
Andrea: [00:03:30] Watching a Disney movie.
Rebecca: [00:03:31] Disney or who even knows, they sit in these silly auditoriums and it is unbelievable to me. I-
Andrea: [00:03:43] So first do the math. So how much did they raise for the fundraiser and could they not have sponsored those kids using some of the money that they raised from the funding?
Amy: [00:03:51] Oh. I wrote about this on Lifetime Moms and they totally could have sponsored those other kids. After the costs of the of the carnival were taken out, they made two thousand to three thousand dollars they said, and that was supposed to go to step up ceremonies for, you know, I don’t know what steps up at that school, probably pre-K to K and K to 1 and then the graduating fifth graders.
Rebecca: [00:04:11] Why did they only make that much money? If if eight hundred kids went and it’s ten dollars a ticket then shouldn’t they have made eight thousand dollars?
Amy: [00:04:17] No, no, that that was their profit. The costs were like-
Andrea: [00:04:20] Minus the costs, minus the costs of putting on the carnival.
Amy: [00:04:20] were like five or six thousand dollars.
Rebecca: [00:04:22] Oh, sixty two hundred dollars. OK, number one, that’s the first mistake of this entire- As someone who led the PTA of the largest elementary school in Manhattan that would be me, that is a disgusting amount to have spent for that little profit.
Andrea: [00:04:36] Get those sponsored.
Rebecca: [00:04:37] I would have shut that down.
Amy: [00:04:37] Uh, as somebody who ran the one at my school I have to say that’s that’s not- it’s normal because if you have fewer things for the kids to do you can spend a lot less money on it but then you have kids waiting around with nothing to do for a lot of the time and our attitude was, let’s just make *some* money and let the kids have a good time. So we weren’t too worried about the profit margin, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Ours is on a Saturday.
Rebecca: [00:05:05] Yeah it’s usually the weekend.
Amy: [00:05:08] This was during a school day!
Rebecca: [00:05:09] I’ve actually never heard of that before.
Amy: [00:05:11] Yeah me neither.
Andrea: [00:05:12] How can they do that during the school day?
Rebecca: [00:05:13] I actually don’t think that’s legal according to Department of Education rules, you are not allowed to have something on school day on the premises that you are charging students to attend.
Amy: [00:05:23] Interesting.
Andrea: [00:05:23] Yeah. And denying other students. I mean, that’s crazy.
Rebecca: [00:05:26] Yeah. It is illegal. And I’ll tell you what else is illegal in this article, ’cause I might as well call out the school for everything because I know these regs inside out, they charge families fifteen dollars a piece to join the PTA. That is illegal. In New York City, every member of the parent body’s automatically a member of the PTA, dues can be voluntary but you are not allowed to do that.
Amy: [00:05:46] We ask for voluntary…
Andrea: [00:05:46] That just goes to show that it’s a really underfunded school with an underfunded population which speaks even more to the point of how could they let those kids not join in. How could they not arrange for some sort of, you know, opportunity for them or some sponsor to come in or something.
Amy: [00:06:07] Well, the guy who runs the carnival company, he said if he had known that there were 100 kids in the auditorium he would have paid for them to attend out of his own pocket. He was heartbroken and he actually offered to come back and give those other kids a free carnival. I don’t know if the principal is gonna take him up on it, but yeah, like there were other ways that this this could have been solved but from what people in the school say it didn’t sound like the principal was interested at all in solving it. It was just her policy.
Rebecca: [00:06:34] She is the one who made this decision.
Amy: [00:06:36] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:06:36] That’s what’s so disgusting about it because-.
Andrea: [00:06:38] So where was the PTA? I mean why didn’t they-
Rebecca: [00:06:38] Well the PTA has to run the event, right? Because legally the school can’t run a fundraising event. So the PTA should have said, and then we deduct the cost of whatever it was for these kids to attend. Or actually you’re just eating the cost anyway. You’re not being charged per child by the carnival dude. Like it doesn’t matter, your profit’s your profit, you’re going to make the same profit. You’re not to make as much but there’s actually no reason to penalize those kids. You’re not losing money. They just thought people wouldn’t pay if they thought their kid could go anyway.
Amy: [00:07:07] And it was a largely, that that school has a largely Chinese population, largely immigrant population. They they knew that a lot of families simply couldn’t afford it. They suspected that a lot of families also didn’t understand, like you know that there were language problems, and it doesn’t sound like there was a lot of an effort to make sure that the families understood. I mean reading into this it sounds like there are a lot of problems in that school just with communication in general with the families, so…
Andrea: [00:07:36] But even when you try to make the parents understand it still feels like kind of bullying, kind of, so you really do need to pay this ten dollars, I mean a lot of parents just can’t. It’s just it’s just not in the budget.
Amy: [00:07:47] And one one little girl, a teacher said a little girl was sobbing saying, “Does my mom not care about me?”
Andrea: [00:07:53] Ugh.
Rebecca: [00:07:53] No it’s disgusting. It’s not…and it’s not legal. Like I can’t even, that’s the part I can’t even get over. I hope that principal’s fired to be honest with you.
Andrea: [00:08:02] I hope so. I hope so. I hope those kids get a day of their own. I hope they get a puppy.
Rebecca: [00:08:06] No,, that’s not good for their parents, don’t get them a puppy!
Amy: [00:08:09] It didn’t it didn’t end with the carnival, when the kids got back to their classrooms each child who attended was given a little toy stuffed animal and the kids who weren’t allowed to go didn’t get that. Like it was just, there were so many layers of humiliation for those kids.
Rebecca: [00:08:23] It is so gross.
Andrea: [00:08:25] All right, so, you know, awful on the part of the principal, but also boo on the PTA for not you know taking a firm stand with the principal and saying-
Rebecca: [00:08:33] And the teachers!
Andrea: [00:08:33] “We can’t let this happen.”
Bad principals can make life miserable
Amy: [00:08:36] Having dealt with a school principal for the first year that my kids are in school, that my son was in school, who was awful, like finally she was fired after my son’s first year, she was really really terrible and the extent to which she was able to have the PTA and the teachers that she didn’t like under her thumb and make their lives miserable, you have to take that into account. It’s not as easy as just standing up to the principal because even if you have tenure she can really make your daily life miserable.
Rebecca: [00:09:03] Yeah but if teachers said, I mean first of all you need one person say this is not legal under the regulations in this city and there is something so ethically disgusting about this, if all the teachers band together-
Andrea: [00:09:13] What were the teachers doing? The teachers were obviously proctoring and making sure everyone was safe and they’re not teaching because the other kids were watching the movie. So I’m sorry. It’s a school day.
Rebecca: [00:09:23] It’s a school day. That’s the worst part.
Andrea: [00:09:25] That the bottom line, it’s a school day.
Rebecca: [00:09:26] It’s not a Saturday where you go or you don’t go like on a Saturday event, it’s voluntary, everyone’s school has a carnival you pay to get into. Our carnival, we used to have like was like a Chuck E Cheese system, like you bought tickets per ride. And then we like abolished that and just did like the wrist band basically, but like if you didn’t go you didn’t go. I mean it doesn’t matter.
Amy: [00:09:45] You weren’t there watching your friends having fun, hearing them…
Andrea: [00:09:47] That’s awful.
Rebecca: [00:09:48] I was shocked. When I first saw this I just assumed it was a weekend because I’ve never never ever heard of a carnival being held during the school day.
Andrea: [00:09:57] Boo on them.
Amy: [00:09:57] Well my kids’ school actually has something during the school day that sounds almost exactly like this. It’s for Spirit Week. It’s free. Everybody participates.
Rebecca: [00:10:05] Oh yeah! It’s free.
Amy: [00:10:06] You know lots of schools do that.
Rebecca: [00:10:07] No you can’t have a fundraiser though during the school day, and you’re not allowed to sell tickets directly to children.
Andrea: [00:10:12] And then- so- and this is this is on topic but a different, a different situation, in terms of shaming, I mean there was a story about some schools who say they’re trying to keep up with the regulations for school lunches and literally throwing away kids cheese sandwiches.
Amy: [00:10:26] No no. They throw away the entrees and give them the cheese sandwich of shame.
Rebecca: [00:10:32] Yes. They wouldn’t let them eat the actual hot food.
Andrea: [00:10:35] No, but it’s the food that parents send from home that they’re throwing away.
Rebecca: [00:10:38] Oh, that’s another story.
Amy: [00:10:39] Oh my God.
Rebecca: [00:10:41] That was the Oreos. They threw away the Oreo that day.
Amy: [00:10:44] Wait, somebody threw away Oreos?
Andrea: [00:10:44] They don’t think it’s nutritious enough and give them a school-provided lunch. So first of all these poor parents are trying to scrape together, I don’t know. Maybe it was cheese. Maybe it was Oreos along with it. But you know paying money for food and sending it with your kid.
Rebecca: [00:11:01] Right.
Andrea: [00:11:02] I mean that- talk about public shaming of your kid.
Rebecca: [00:11:04] Right. There’s two stories. There’s the Maryland story where because the kid’s account was delinquent they took his food. They took a school lunch away and made him have the cheese sandwich of shame.
Amy: [00:11:14] So they’re not saving money, they’re not you know making up for the money that the kid didn’t pay, because they threw the good food out.
Andrea: [00:11:21] Yes. Like when the deli guy, you know when you say a third of a pound and it goes a little over, is that OK? And you say no. And instead of just like lifting it up weighing it and putting it back on they throw it out.
Rebecca: [00:11:31] Right.
Andrea: [00:11:32] Right. Like what good is that.
Rebecca: [00:11:33] And then the second was the family that was shamed because she sent her kid to school, I think it was in Utah with string cheese, like an apple or something, a sandwich, and Oreos, and because she had Oreos in the lunchbox she got a notice home saying this does not meet the nutritious like, values for children or something. While they probably have vending machines full of crap for the school to make money.
Amy: [00:11:57] Look. Having dealt with one kid who is ridiculously picky, I did try in the beginning. I tried hard to send him in with a balanced meal and I just got reports that he was throwing out the stuff that he didn’t like. So I just gave up and I sent him in with stuff- I’m not sending him in with like you know a giant bag of potato chips and small Oreos, but I just started sending him in with things that he would eat and who knows maybe the kid- you know maybe they have a deal, maybe the kid will only eat the apple if you know she also gets the Oreos. Who knows. But that is so ridiculously judge-y.
Andrea: [00:12:26] Yeah.
Amy: [00:12:27] And and to make one food bad and another food good just brings up in so many psychologically icky things around foo- Oh God I’m getting so worked up about this because I have so many food issues and my son does too.
Rebecca: [00:12:42] I don’t know I just think when you when a parent- if you want to have a school policy that like soda is not not allowed in lunchboxes.
Andrea: [00:12:50] That’s OK.
Rebecca: [00:12:50] That’s OK, but you cannot go micromanage everybody’s lunchbox and then say that you weren’t allowed to have Oreos in your lunch if your kids decide you aren’t-
You do what you have to do
Andrea: [00:13:00] I’ve gotta tell you. I mean when I was you know back when my son was in school and I was setting lunch and I was working mom and rushing to get into the city everyday I mean that you know there were some days I could not get to the store I couldn’t go get cold cuts I couldn’t make nice little sandwiches cut up and all the little you know, that’s why there were Lunchables invented. [laughter] And we had a stack of Lunchables. You know they had first come out and it was great. It had like you know little crackers and it had some ham and sometimes it had hummus I think and that’s what went with him. Because, he ate it.
Rebecca: [00:13:28] And he was the envy of all the other kids!
Andrea: [00:13:30] Yeah.
Amy: [00:13:30] And you know what, the Lunchables mafia is going to come after you!
Andrea: [00:13:34] I’m sure. I’m sure. But you know what when you’re a working mom and there’s nothing in the fridge and your kid’s gotta take lunch to school you do what he’ll eat.
Amy: [00:13:40] Agreed. And when you’re when your kid is picky and you’re not going to be there to handle it.
Rebecca: [00:13:47] Yes we can all be bento box Dad now making cute little carrots, [laughter] but I think the school lunch is a different issue because that is where the shame comes in. If you’re- if the school says you can’t have Oreos and you’d didn’t pack your kid a nutritional lunch, that’s sort of on you and you can take it up with the school and like fight your battle, the taking away of lunch to children saying you’re delinquent on your account your parents didn’t pay-.
Andrea: [00:14:07] Which is not anything they can help or like, oh I’ll go home and talk to my mom and she’ll pay you.
Rebecca: [00:14:12] And if you’re already qualifying for reduced lunch, right, because these aren’t kids who qualified for free lunch because they would just get it then, these are kids who qualified for reduced lunch. There is something so horrendous about that that-
Andrea: [00:14:25] Why would you put that pressure on a kid.
Rebecca: [00:14:28] Right. Because they’re delinquent by five bucks or four bucks or-.
Amy: [00:14:31] Twelve dollars in the case of this-
Andrea: [00:14:31] These are educators!
Rebecca: [00:14:33] And they said that the school lunch aides, the people serving it were like horrified. They just kept apologizing they felt terrible. But the principal again was back there being like nope nope. Like making sure they follow through. So I have to I have to shout out to New York City because this year the City Council passed a law that all school lunch is free.
Amy: [00:14:54] All? Not just middle school…
Rebecca: [00:14:55] No just for middle for middle schools, starting out in middle school but that is because that is where they found the shame was greatest, that middle schoolers were so hyper-aware of free or reduced lunch.
Amy: [00:15:11] Wow.
Rebecca: [00:15:11] Also middle schoolers are really hungry. [Amy laughing] So no. For real.
Andrea: [00:15:14] It’s true.
[00:15:15] So sometimes these kids would even bring lunch from home and still be hungry but not want to like- not have the money on them or they miss- it’s just a really pivotal time. And they passed this and I hope they roll it out to all the grades, but it really was part of it was the shame factor, they didn’t want kids to feel self-conscious. Now you don’t know.
Amy: [00:15:33] I am amazed and delighted that that was the driving force behind it because you know what, middle school is tough enough.
Rebecca: [00:15:39] Middle school sucks. And I will say that because we’re going to be working with this company this summer, No Kid Hungry, which is an amazing non-profit that works with kids-
Amy: [00:15:49] KidzVuz is working with them?
Rebecca: [00:15:49] KidzVuz yes, we are working with them this summer and their big push is I think a lot of places don’t realize there’s a lot of free universal free breakfast in the schools.
Amy: [00:15:59] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:16:01] And kids don’t take advantage of it. So we’re- they’re doing a big push this summer to make sure the kids know and parents know that their kids can go in early to school and get free breakfast. And it’s again kids, so many kids rely on school food as their two main meals of the day.
Andrea: [00:16:16] Well make sure they go and talk to that school who did the carnival and take care of those kids.
Rebecca: [00:16:22] Oh my God! I can’t- I- this- the shame fact- is I don’t understand why these children are allowed to work with- why these people are allowed to work with children. I just don’t.
Amy: [00:16:29] And you know we’re all sitting here appalled and aghast and and in agreement. But when I started reading the comments of other articles about it, which you’re never supposed to do, but I did, so many people are like this is when the kids should learn that you know you get what you pay for and if you can’t afford it you don’t get to participate- it was disgusting. I was like literally sick to my stomach reading some of these comments.
Rebecca: [00:16:53] Oh it’s so disgusting. All right. So on that note-.
Amy: [00:16:55] On that disgusting note!
Rebecca: [00:16:58] On that disgusting note we’re going to take a break and hear from a sponsor and we’ll be right back to talk about teacher gifts, to award-
Amy: [00:17:07] Not for those two parents but for all the good teachers.
Rebecca: [00:17:07] Yes for all the good teachers and maybe, maybe principals. We’ll be right back.
Announcer: [00:17:13] Talking to tech, apps, entertainment and issues around parenting the digital generation. This is Parenting Bytes with Rebecca Levey.
End of year teacher gifts
Rebecca: [00:17:21] Ok we are back. We are calmed down a little bit-.
Amy: [00:17:25] A little bit.
Rebecca: [00:17:27] We’re going to talk about teacher gifts. I actually think this is a huge conundrum for parents every year because you don’t know what to get a teacher, you don’t know how much you should spend, there is usually a feeling of different schools handle it differently, so maybe one teacher gets a ton of things and one teacher gets nothing, which is my big problem. And sometimes it can become a one upmanship thing where like people- some classes want to make sure their teacher gets the biggest thing or you always get that one parent, well here in New York City I can tell you you always get that one parent who gives them like the Coach bag, and you’re like ew, what is wrong with you.
School regulations for teacher gifts
Amy: [00:18:07] That’s why that rarely-enforced law was was passed or rule was passed in New York City that technically nobody is supposed to give a teacher a gift worth more than five dollars. But it’s really only invoked when somebody has a problem.
Andrea: [00:18:19] Which is why pooling all the assets-
Rebecca: [00:18:21] That regulation is not-
Amy: [00:18:23] Well it’s not it’s not that it’s that nobody can contribute more than five dollars. I checked into it.
Rebecca: [00:18:28] It’s not true.
Amy: [00:18:28] All right. We’re gonna have to research-
Rebecca: [00:18:30] I will show you the regs. It’s actually that you can’t require.
Amy: [00:18:34] Yeah yeah! Sorry. You’re absolutely right I’m saying it wrong because class parents were saying “Everybody has to give twenty dollars. Everybody has to give thirty dollars.”
Andrea: [00:18:41] Which not everybody can afford it. And what if you have two or three kids of the school?
Rebecca: [00:18:43] That’s illegal.
Amy: [00:18:44] And that’s actually where the confusion comes in because then people started saying you know so so somehow it got to be thought that you couldn’t give more than five dollars because this is what I went up against the first time I tried to collect for a teacher gift and they said oh we can’t put it all together and give it to the teacher because it’s more than five dollars. I was like no you can.
Rebecca: [00:19:03] People totally misread the reg.
Amy: [00:19:05] I just can’t make you.
Rebecca: [00:19:05] Right. You can’t require and you have to sign everyone’s name on a card.
Andrea: [00:19:09] But I also think the idea of pooling it you know whether someone wants to contribute 20 dollars or can only contribute 5 dollars or maybe they don’t like the teacher, you know there’s always the person who says oh that teacher horrible-
Amy: [00:19:20] Well their name still has to go on the card!
Andrea: [00:19:20] Name has to go in the card but I think that when you pool the money and buy one class gift it’s so much better.
Amy: [00:19:26] That’s it what we do one teacher has been spear- one parent has been spearheading it for I think she’s been the class parent for my kid’s class for the past four years.
Andrea: [00:19:33] God bless her.
Rebecca: [00:19:35] No kidding.
Amy: [00:19:36] And it’s going on right now. We give her or PayPal her the money, she puts it all into one big gift card, everybody’s name goes on the card, nobody has a problem with it ever…
How to do teacher gifts in the fairest way
Rebecca: [00:19:45] Let me tell you how my daughter’s school does it because it’s my favorite thing ever, which her elementary school did not do but their middle school does. The money all goes to the parent coordinator and it’s divvied up equally among all teachers. So you don’t get a teacher who gets a thousand dollars and a teacher who gets two hundred dollars depending on the demographics of their class-.
Amy: [00:20:01] Which really does make a difference!
Rebecca: [00:20:03] Makes a huge difference. It’s everyone gives what they can give. It is put in one giant pot and it is equally distributed.
Andrea: [00:20:11] And everyone’s name is on it.
Amy: [00:20:13] That’s just that school’s policy?
Rebecca: [00:20:14] A lot of private schools do that too. But this is a public school and that’s their policy. And again from the principal, like when you’ve a great principal, and they rule the roost and they tell that’s- this is how it is, there’s no there’s no questioning it. Now for teach- if a parent also wants to send in like a- their own personal gift there’s nothing to stop them from doing that. Most people don’t because your kids have like six teachers in middle school, so-
Andrea: [00:20:34] Right. Yeah. How do you keep up with that.
Rebecca: [00:20:38] Yeah.
Andrea: [00:20:38] Yeah.
Amy: [00:20:39] I also feel bad for- in elementary school the- the-
Rebecca: [00:20:41] Specialists.
Amy: [00:20:44] The word- Yeah. This is like the the ones who teach science and art and you know aren’t the main teacher. It’s so easy to forget them when everybody’s just collecting for the for the one main teacher so in middle school I think in that way gets a little bit easier.
Rebecca: [00:20:57] Right. We instituted at their elementary school, we had suggested that people give, that every class parent basically take like 50 dollars off the top to put into a general pool for the specialists that would be distributed and I can’t tell you the pushback.
Amy: [00:21:12] What?
Rebecca: [00:21:12] Oh my God. “I’m giving this money for my teacher, I’m not giving it. So blah blah blah. The music teacher can’t get it because I don’t like-” I mean it really was like bananas.
Amy: [00:21:23] Oh. Why do people have to be jerks?
Ideas from a teacher
Andrea: [00:21:23] So I know I know Rebecca that you reached out to some people on Facebook, I saw it, but I, so I also reached out to a teacher not here in New York. So I wanted to get her perspective outside of D.C. and Northern Virginia. My stepdaughter, thank you very much. And asked her, you know, what do you guys like. You know, you get stuff at the end of the year. And she said gift cards are awesome, especially to favorite places. Classroom supplies are always welcome.
Amy: [00:21:48] Really? I wouldn’t- I would feel like that the same way I would feel about somebody paying off my student loan like we talked about.
Andrea: [00:21:54] I guess, you know if you want to give like, you know, markers and pens and you know like stuff that they know the classroom really needs. She also says no apple-themed gifts, but I’m presuming that doesn’t include iPhones, iPads…
Rebecca: [00:22:07] Be careful what you say.
Andrea: [00:22:08] You know maybe not the desk thing that’s an apple, and then she wrote it’s really important to know your teacher. If she drinks Dunkin’ don’t buy her Starbucks. So to me that was a great tip because I’m sure everyone knows, you know, their teachers likes and dislikes.
Amy: [00:22:23] I know a lot of people also like to give female teachers spa gift cards, and I don’t really have a strong opinion about that one way or the other because I know a lot of teachers do like to to have things where they can they can really pamper themselves, but don’t get it for like the local spa in your neighborhood. You don’t know where your teacher lives, or she probably lives someplace else. SpaFinder gift cards are awesome because they work at like 20,000 different locations. So then she can go to one near her house on a Saturday instead of having to do it after school in your own neighborhood.
Other good gifts for teachers
Rebecca: [00:22:51] Yeah. So I have, so Leticia Barr, who is a big blogger, Tech Savvy Mama, out of DC, so one of the things- she was a former teacher and now is awesome class parent again and one of these crazy women. So she she said, and I actually thought this was really cute, she does a big beach bag with a towel in their favorite colors with a big gift card to their favorite store and then some things about that they like to do, their summer their vacation plans, so she’ll put like sunscreen or Amazon gift cards for Kindle downloads or insulated Starbucks mugs if they love Starbucks filled with the gift card. I like to- I like that too.
Andrea: [00:23:29] That’s thoughtful.
Rebecca: [00:23:29] I like to package things with a gift card, I will admit. And she said they collect between two hundred and two hundred fifty which is interesting. So they like to put at least one hundred towards the gift card. And then it’s interesting too to hear from people who know that their teachers have kids. So one of the bloggers wrote in and said they did like an outdoor playset from Pottery Barn because she knew she’d be home with her kids all summer and she like, her- their teacher loved it loved it loved it, and then she does like a lot of outdoor parties and stuff. So they did like a whole picnic whatever set.
Andrea: [00:24:02] So then you have to really know the teacher.
Rebecca: [00:24:04] You have to know the teacher. They were saying like if you know the teacher, if you know their friends, kind of ask what their interests are. Some of them actually should put some posts up to- some people but some people said customize stationery which I’ve seen but I know that sometimes teachers get that year after year and they never use it up.
Andrea: [00:24:19] Do you know how much stationery I have with my name on it?
Rebecca: [00:24:21] I know, no one uses stationery anymore, right? It’s- all that I think is really interesting about-
Andrea: [00:24:27] Those are really good ideas.
Rebecca: [00:24:29] I think so too.
Amy: [00:24:30] One thing that I’ve seen that they don’t want I’ve seen multiple teachers say, don’t get me anything that sits on a shelf that I have to dust.
Rebecca: [00:24:36] Right.
Andrea: [00:24:39] Like an Apple.
Amy: [00:24:39] Like an apple.
Rebecca: [00:24:40] Like an apple, or a little tchotchke, like Number One Teacher statue.
Amy: [00:24:46] Thos are terrible.
An amazing photo book idea
Rebecca: [00:24:46] So when my daughters were in preschool, and I don’t think this works necessarily beyond third grade maybe, but we would do- I do would make these books on Shutterfly because I was the crazy class parent, and every- I’d get a picture of each kid and then we’d ask each kid five questions. So what’s your favorite part of this teacher, like what’s your favorite thing she does, what’s the silliest thing she does, you know wha wha wha. And what was your favorite thing you did this year, I made Shutterfly photo books.
Amy: [00:25:13] That’s awesome.
Rebecca: [00:25:13] Each kid had a page and it was all stuff about, I mean they had like three teachers in presechool, so it was all stuff about their teachers and their favorite thing about school and it’s so nice because it’s a real book and it’s so personal for the teacher.
Andrea: [00:25:25] That’s nice.
Rebecca: [00:25:26] So inexpensive to make because you’re just making these books on Shutterfly they’re like 20 bucks each. But what was nice is that you can keep it on Shutterfly and all the parents could order their own.
Amy: [00:25:34] Aww!
Rebecca: [00:25:35] So I have them every year, like the Blue Room, the Panda Room, but it doesn’t work- you know, you can only do it up to so many grades- when they stop being cute.
Amy: [00:25:45] When exactly does that happen?
Rebecca: [00:25:46] So it takes a little more effort. It’s very personal. I think so I think actually I like Shutterfly, I like Zazzle for gifts and for doing personalized stuff.
Amy: [00:25:56] Yeah.
More teacher gift ideas
Rebecca: [00:25:57] I think Pottery Barn’s a great idea. Land’s End doing those beach bags, you can get their initials put on it which is really nice. You know just if you give yourself enough lead time, start- and again if you’re doing a gift card-
Andrea: [00:26:09] Yeah, Starbucks, Dunkin’.
Rebecca: [00:26:10] Right. And again, package it with something. I do think that’s nice. I think you-.
Andrea: [00:26:14] You could do like a popcorn movie night. You could get someone like a big bucket and put popcorn in it and some movie tickets.
Rebecca: [00:26:19] Yeah you could do an AMC gift card.
Amy: [00:26:21] And if you don’t know don’t guess. Just put it on a fee-free Visa gift card.
Rebecca: [00:26:26] There ain’t nothing wrong with a Visa card.
Amy: [00:26:29] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:26:29] Yeah. You can go to your CVS and buy them a CVS gift card. [laughing] Nothing wrong with that either. Everyone needs that stuff. I think it is nice to get them something that you know they’re not gonna spend on the classroom. There is something about, I don’t know. Teachers spend enough of their own money all the time and doing stuff. So those are our ideas, if you have ideas or you are a teacher and you have things you really don’t want-
Andrea: [00:26:52] Let us know.
Rebecca: [00:26:53] Let us know! We will spread the word! And we know apple things, not Apple Electronics but physical apple things. All right. So we will be right back after this word from our second sponsor. And we are going to have our Bytes of the Week. Stay tuned.
Announcer: [00:27:09] You’re listening to Parenting Bytes with Rebecca Levey.
Bytes of the week
Rebecca: [00:27:14] Okay, Bytes of the Week. Ladies-
Not a kid-shaming video
Amy: [00:27:20] I can go. So we’ve been talking a lot lately about shaming kids and in the past we’ve talked about parents who shame their children publicly, especially on on Facebook. And there is this great video that went totally viral in the past few days. I think it has like 21 million views right now on Facebook. I can’t remember the guy’s name but I will I will put a link up to it on our Facebook page, and for the first 30 seconds or so it looks like a typical shaming video. It looks like he’s going to give his his kid one of those haircuts of shame that are going around when your kid does something bad, and then he’s like, no son! Come here. And he gives them a big hug. He’s like, I would never do that to you. And it’s just, it’s awesome. And it’s really resonated because I don’t think people realize what they’re doing to their kids.
Andrea: [00:28:11] You should see Amy’s smile while she’s telling us, obviously you loved it.
Amy: [00:28:16] I watched it about six times. I mean it’s just it’s it’s so brilliant, it’s so well done. And the guy, he’s a teacher, you know he knows what this this kind of thing does.
Rebecca: [00:28:25] I hope Jimmy Kimmel and his team see it because I actually think they, not that they started this, but I think-.
Amy: [00:28:31] They contributed a lot!
Rebecca: [00:28:33] They really contributed to it.
Amy: [00:28:34] Yeah. So that’s an excellent point. Yeah. So I just really I think that this video is a great counterpoint to all of the other shaming videos going around.
Andrea: [00:28:44] That’s awesome.
Rebecca: [00:28:45] That’s great.
Andrea: [00:28:45] That’s cool.
Rebecca: [00:28:46] Andrea?
Andrea: [00:28:47] So I’ve been driving around a lot. It’s almost, it’s summer and a lot of people are going to be traveling. Gas prices are up again. And I don’t know about you guys but because I spend so much time in my car living in northern New Jersey I look at gas prices you know and it matters to me if there is a difference of 10 or 15 cents when I’m putting 10 or 15 gallons in my car so I have to say and I’ve had this app on my phone my God for years and I used to you know they’re one of the original, but I’ve been using my GasBuddy app. So if you don’t drive a lot you may not need this but if you do and you fill your gas tank frequently this is an app that literally takes your GPS. location and tells you all of your gas stations near you and what the price at the pump is at that moment. So you can make a decision on should I go two blocks out of my way and get much cheaper gas. Obviously going a mile out of your way probably isn’t worth the ROI. But for me it’s just really helpful because there’s two stations I pass on my way into the city. And if the first one is busy they’re usually the same, I’ll go to the second one. And lately I’ve been seeing that I stop at the first and the second one is cheaper!
Amy: [00:29:53] Oh, frustrating.
Andrea: [00:29:54] So now I pull out my GasBuddy app so if you’re traveling at all, taking a family road trip, going to Grandma, whatever, get the GasBuddy app, it’s favorite, some of your favorite gas stations, and save some money.
Rebecca: [00:30:06] But maybe do it before you’re driving.
Amy: [00:30:09] Yes.
Rebecca: [00:30:09] Don’t be-
Andrea: [00:30:10] Do it while you’re a passenger!
Rebecca: [00:30:10] Don’t be tapping on your phone while you’re driving, please.
Andrea: [00:30:10] Yes. Yes.
Joe Biden talks about grief
Rebecca: [00:30:15] All right. So I also have a video this week. You know we all know that Beau Biden passed away last week.
Andrea: [00:30:22] So sad.
Rebecca: [00:30:22] Joe Biden’s son. There is an incredible video going around of Joe Biden speaking about grief and compassion and what people should say to people and when people shouldn’t say. It is so phenomenal. I think you’ll like see Joe Biden in a whole different light. You don’t usually see that side of him. He’s such a like tough, you know-.
Andrea: [00:30:42] That man has been through so much tragedy.
Rebecca: [00:30:46] It is unbelievable. And the sort of the depth of his understanding of it and the way he has thought it through and is talking about it is it’s absolutely incredible. If he were running for president I’m telling you I think he would be like a game changer for him. But I, we’ll put a link to it on our Facebook page if you haven’t already seen it, it’s really kind of going around everywhere. But it’s really remarkable. I think it’s a very hard thing to talk about.
Andrea: [00:31:13] I think people never, it’s a really good question because a lot of people just don’t know what to say. You know, you say I’m sorry for your loss but you just, it’s very hard for people to reach out because they’re not sure what do you say to the person.
Rebecca: [00:31:25] Right. And I think you’re not sure yourself on how you’re gonna get through it. And yeah it’s just it’s really tremendous. It’s really beautiful. And I highly recommend it. So that is that for today. Check us out at Facebook dot com slash Parenting Bytes where we have links to like everything we talked about on the show and things do Amy tracking everything down. We also, you know, leave some comments. Tell us topics you want us to talk about. By all means check us out on iTunes at Parenting Bytes. You should read us and review us, ooh, we got lots like ratings and reviews that are all good. We’re very excited, but it helps us be found in search and please share us too and subscribe. And of course on Play dot it, you can check us out as well as all the other cool Play dot it podcasts. And we’ll talk to you next week.
Andrea: [00:32:12] Have a good week.
Amy: [00:32:13] Bye!
Rebecca: [00:32:14] Bye.