CRCSD Facebook Post Stirs Up Controversy Surrounding Teachers Gifts During the Holidays

The original post made on the CRCSD Facebook page suggests making a donation to the school districts foundation instead of getting gifts for teachers.
The original post made on the CRCSD Facebook page suggests making a donation to the school district’s foundation instead of getting gifts for teachers.
Cedar Rapids Community School Foundation

If you were an underpaid, overworked teacher who had to deal with hundreds of whining teenagers every single day, what would you want as a holiday gift? A Starbucks or Target gift card, maybe some snacks or a thoughtful desk decoration? Or would you prefer a piece of paper from your boss announcing a student of yours donated to your school district’s foundation?

Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) made a Facebook post on Dec. 7 encouraging people who want to show their appreciation to teachers to donate to the CRCSF (Cedar Rapids Community Schools Foundation) and mention a teacher’s name rather than buy the teacher a gift. 

A donation to the foundation is not a donation to the individual teacher or teacher’s classroom. The donation is only in their name. If someone donates in a teacher’s name, it goes directly to the foundation and the teacher gets a card saying someone donated. The foundation then decides where to spend the donated funds, such as field trips or additional classroom supplies. 

Community members and the followers of the CRCSD Facebook page were up in arms in the comments of the post, attacking the foundation in a cancel-culture-like fashion. The wording specifically threw people for a loop; using the phrase “in lieu of ” had viewers frustrated. Teachers already provide materials for their classrooms and they dedicate hours of their time to their students for extra help on schoolwork or to listen while they cry—but they don’t deserve a Chipotle gift card? 

We can’t figure out why we are losing teachers by the handfuls. No idea why we are understaffed and can’t get enough help in our schools. Here’s a clue: a tone deaf leadership board dictating how to show staff appreciation when it doesn’t show appreciation at all. In fact, all this does is show exactly why staff morale is at an all time low. Do better CRCSD. Do better.”

— Cari Lamb, Facebook Comment

The post even angered educators in other states.

CRCSD’s updated post, note the tagline change from “in lieu of” to “in addition to.” (Cedar Rapids Community School Foundation)

“I teach in another state and I can definitely say a personal note, handmade gift, classroom supplies, gift cards, or really anything else would be appreciated over this,” Tama Radl said in the Facebook comments. “It is like saying…Here let me give an under-appreciated, overworked, underpaid, a card saying we donated to something that is probably not meeting any of those needs. Send your teacher a personal thank you note and they may keep it forever. Heck, send them a mug over this. Sincerely, all the passionate and tired teachers of America.”

In response to the comments, the CRCSD Facebook account left a follow-up comment on the post to clarify what they meant and that they didn’t mean to make anyone upset and even edited the post to make it clear that they still encourage buying teachers gifts.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Our intention in promoting the option of making a donation to the Cedar Rapids Schools Foundation in the name of a teacher or staff member was to just share a unique and alternative way to support and thank our school staff during the holiday season. We understand the importance of acknowledging the hard work of our teachers, and we want to ensure that everyone feels appreciated. We are always exploring alternative ways to express gratitude to not only teachers but ALL school staff.”

— Cedar Rapids Community School District Foundation

But should we really be that mad? The district simply intended to inform people of another option people have to express their appreciation for teachers. They created the post to promote the Cedar Rapids Community Schools Foundation that does great things for the district and its members, raising money that has direct benefits. Displayed on the foundation’s website is their mission statement: “The mission of the foundation is to provide financial support to and promote excellence in the Cedar Rapids Public Schools. Through the funding of projects and programs the foundation works to enhance the educational experience of students in the public schools.”

The foundation was doing the community a favor. An online donation can be quicker than going shopping or getting gift cards, so if someone is busy and wants to honor a couple of teachers, they can donate in their name. It gives people more chances to show their appreciation for their teachers and CRCSD staff members. Teachers deserve something for the holidays, for helping us with our Spanish or pre-calculus homework and for listening to us when we’re having a rough week and need an outlet. 

Whether it be an online donation or that coveted Starbucks gift card, we are showing we care. The post may have been poorly worded, but it had good intentions. We can’t ignore the ultimate intention to help a good foundation and thank our staff. Buy a gift card. Donate to the foundation. Whatever it be, just let your teachers know they are appreciated. 

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    Les J. GOLDBERGDec 24, 2023 at 2:42 pm

    This is an example of a well-written, well-thought out editorial.