Gifts to teacher: Bonus or bribe?

Dear Amy: My friend recently told me that she believes in giving gifts to teachers so that they will pay more attention to her kids at school. (She herself was a teacher.)

I feel that this is out-and-out bribery and looking for preferential treatment, and I feel it's just plain wrong.

Of course I wonder about a teacher who would respond favorably to this behavior. I'm not talking about gifts at Christmas and at the end of the year – I get that. My friend gives the gifts during the first week of school.

How do I gracefully tell her I don't want to hear about her bribing the teacher, and that I think it is wrong? Is it wrong – or am I way off base?


Dear Anti: I'm not sure why you worry about being graceful when responding to someone who is a clod.

I think it's natural to try to persuade teachers that your child is worthy of attention, but the way to do this is to be respectful and helpful in terms of participation in classroom activities (including the willingness to chip in for classroom supplies, if necessary).

In my view, a teacher who puts out a vibe that parents can interpret as an invitation to a bribe is not only unprofessional, but also most likely not a very good teacher. You can tell your friend: “Wow. My kids' teachers do their jobs no matter what. Thank goodness I don't feel I have to bribe them. I think this practice is wrong.''

I welcome hearing from teachers.