Okay, class, time for a math quiz.
Take your child’s attitude. Multiply it by 24 students. Subtract 11 weeks of summer vacation, but add $5.3 billion in education budget cuts.
That’s what our kids’ teachers cope with daily, from the second their coffee kicks in to the moment the blessed bell rings at 3 o’clock. And we parents are grateful, of course we are. As the school year ends, though, it’s hard to know how to express that gratitude. Or, frankly, how to wrap it.
Some families bake cookies to show thanks. Others give potted plants, scented candles, or handmade greeting cards. I’ve heard of parents bestowing teachers with cashmere robes, Tiffany necklaces, and even $300 cash.
“Are we supposed to be supplementing their income because they are ridiculously underpaid?” asked a mother I know, whose confusion echoes my own. “Or is it purely a token of appreciation, in which case, should it come from the child or the parent?”
So I did what I’d be too ashamed to do without the defensible guise of “column research.” I asked teachers what they really want. And some of their answers surprised me.