First, late today, after the article was printed this morning, I received a copy of a letter from the Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) President Sally Howell sent to superintendents, school board presidents and board attorneys across the state. In short the letter states: "Based on our conversations with ethics commission officials, we believe there is more latitude on the types of gifts permissible than some have indicated. We urge you to hold off on providing guidance until the commission meets."
The Ethics Commission is scheduled to meet again on December 5th.
When this law was debated and passed it was not our intent to prevent children from giving gifts to their teachers at Christmas or at the end of the school year. In my opinion, this is simply another case where those opposing the law are attempting to fan the flames of fear and malcontent. Think about it, how can we police a child giving their teacher a coffee mug, candle, ornament or homemade trinket? Does anyone think this was the actual intent? You can read the law here, it is only 20 pages, with a cover page. Section 33, b, 4 is the area on gifts of de minimis value (page 12).
However, when a “gift” such as a $25 - $50 gift card is given we create an imbalanced situation in the classroom. To a lot of families, $25 - $50 is a lot of money. Now, if someone gives a teacher $25 - $50 worth of school supplies – that’s another story as these items do not have value beyond the classroom.
A worthwhile comparison to this attempt by opponents to fan the flames of fear through misinformation is the immigration law….yes, I’m comparing the two in order to provide a example of a the classic liberal tactic at play here.
Those opposing the immigration law are taking the law to extremes to further their agenda of dismantling the law. For example, they state that the new law requires the government to validate nationality of someone doing business with the government. They say this includes library cards. Seriously?
Trust me – I’ve not found anyone concerned with illegal immigrants checking out library books. Similarly, no one is concerned with any public employee (of which teachers are included) receiving items of little value as a token of appreciation at Christmas. Again, those opposing these bills have a single goal of finding fault in the application of extremes in the law. I'm certainly no lawyer but the reasonable person, or common man theory, operates in the “spirit and intent” of the law. I call it good old common sense.