Holiday gifts for teachers

Ah yes, the holidays.  And gifts for teachers.

#2 recently sent me a link with ideas for gifts for teachers. “Comments actually useful here!” she said.

Silly #2… obviously she has not spent as much time on mommy forums and blogs as I have.

Anyhow, from my reading of the forums (etc.) all teachers want are gift cards to Target. Gift cards to Starbucks are ok. Gift cards to the Body Shop are not ok.

They don’t want your cookies. They don’t want your mugs.  They have mixed, mostly negative, feelings about chocolates.

(They might want booze! #2 suggests. And while that might be true, you should probably not bring booze to a K-12 school or preschool. If you’re gonna go that route, try giving a gift certificate to a specialty shop that sells both booze and food.)

They also enjoy, for real, feeling appreciated. They love heart-felt notes from students and parents. They want that even more than gift cards, if the teaching mommies on fora are to be believed.  Teachers are mixed on whether or not they want heart-felt homemade gifts from the students.  They appreciate the thought.

(Coffee! #2 suggests. Sure, coffee. If you know what kind they drink and they’re not just getting it for free from the teacher’s lounge. Perhaps that’s why they like the Starbucks gift cards, though not as much as the same value Target cards.)

Also note that you can make a directed donation for stuff to the teacher through the school and it will be tax deductible so long as the school is government or non-profit. Be careful though that they don’t just subtract money that they would have been giving to the teacher anyway. If you’re worried they might do that, then gift carts to Half-Price books or Walmart or Target or the teacher supply store will be a better option. Teachers do tend to spend a lot of money out of pocket on supplies for kids, which is ridiculous. As a society we should be better than that.

And no, not all students’ families give gifts.  And no, you do not have to give gifts.  Depending on where you live, most parents don’t.  And yes, a card or a note at the holidays is a great idea even if you’re not planning on giving a gift.

What do we do?  $20-$25 gift card to Target to each teacher DC1 comes into contact with (and DC1 writes a thank-you note for each teacher with the card).  Then a $50 card to half-price books “For the classroom.”  This year though we may consider giving a directed donation that’s larger because the teacher has been buying sets of books for the class out of pocket (Charlotte’s Web, Dear Mr. Henshaw, etc.).  We’re not really sure.  When we asked her at the beginning of the semester, she said she’d let us know if she needed a directed donation, but she never has.  We probably should have just written a check right then and there when we were prepared to do so (we’d brought the checkbook and everything).  We also give a much larger figure to the school’s annual giving campaign.  If we went to public school instead of private I’d feel a bit different about giving a gift-card, but public school teachers on fora say they’re totally ok and appreciated.  (And in this at-will no-union state, teachers make so little, that a $25 gift card might actually matter.)

Usually we give $20/teacher to the daycare too, including all the teachers DC2 has come in contact with.  This year it’s a bit tricky.  In the 6 mo period we’ve been at this daycare by winter break, DC2 will have only been in the new room a month.  The previous room was terrible, we hate the directors, but we loved the teachers in the 18 month room.  There are 4 teachers in each classroom (2 morning, 2 afternoon), for 12 teachers total.  And we’re leaving for the new daycare in January (though we usually give good-bye gifts when we leave a daycare, but we’ve never left acrimoniously before).  We’d like to give cards to the 18 mo teachers and the new teachers, but we can’t really leave out the last room if we do that.  And DH wonders if we should really be giving giftcards when the new teachers barely know DC2 (though by the time this post posts, they’ll have known her longer!).  We may end up not doing anything.  I mean, we’re already “those parents” at that school.  But I will feel guilty, you know?  (Probably we’ll end up giving $10 gift cards to everyone at daycare or something.  Split the difference.)

What do you think about holiday gifts to teachers?

Let us all love links (ongoing racism, part eleventy)

Here are this week’s links we’re reading.

Tenure she wrote (great title!) on no longer taking bad advice from old white dudes.  This just in:  sexist racist thief selling Nobel prize.

Until they were retweeted by a man.

 Note to myself that I should read and absorb and use this.  (#2 does applied stuff.)

This thing is cool.  I’m totally playing with it!

 5 practical things men can do for gender equality at work (and home!).

 on this: I note that it’s easier for men to skip the shallow work because women will pick up the slack for them

Seriously, f* the police. Also, this detail that’s not being reported like it should be.  Also, did we mention f* the police?  You wanna murder someone in cold blood and get away with it and you’re not picky on who you kill?  Consider a career in law enforcement.  Seriously, f* this!  You can take the DOJ’s word for it in this long report, or just read the summary, or even just the very first paragraph!

GO HOME, RACISM, YOU’RE DRUNK.  Death threats.  More deadly racism in Missouri.

Body cameras aren’t enough.  We are all monsters.  So much racism.  I’m linking this “F the police” moment for the last line of it.

How to deal (or not) with racism at Thanksgiving.  One of my colleagues says this is hir experience too.

Conversation with Chris Rock.

Elly Kellner is decent.  I like the video.

Great headline.

Save money with a morning wedding?

For someone who hates economists, this is pretty good economic analysis.

Facts about aging.

One of the things we’re trying to teach DC1 is that it’s ok to play with hard problems and to not expect a direct solution right away.

do want

A year in books.

mmm wild pig

This is what happens when you order ridiculously cheap clothing from Singapore (giggles).

This week’s Epic Parenting award goes to these people, who’ve been publicized all over the internet this week and are awesome:

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What else ya got?

Ask the grumpies: Emergency fund placement

Debbie M. asks:

Where are you keeping your emergency fund these days?

#1:  I’m keeping mine in a savings account for maximum liquidity.  Having just quit my job and moved to a different state, I am living off my savings and my partner’s salary these days, and my savings aren’t so big that I could usefully make a short-term investment.

#2:  Also savings.  We have too much in there right now for no good reason [well, now we’re saving up for a year of leave…].  Term shares (CDs) aren’t paying enough to make it worth my time to move into ladders.  I do have a secondary emergency fund that I keep in taxable index funds on etrade.  (Some day we will move everything to Vanguard, but etrade is currently our legacy investment place.)  And, of course, in a true emergency we could tap our home equity either by taking out a home equity loan or by recasting our mortgage.  Similarly we could take the money we contributed to our ROTH IRAs out (and allow the earnings to continue to grow).

Where are you all keeping your emergency funds?

What are we reading?

Mistborn:  A famous economist recommended this one to me so I read it at a conference!  It is good.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library:  I’m reminded reading this how much more safe American children’s spec fic is compared to British children’s spec fic.  There’s no danger in this book, very carefully and specifically every possible danger is neutralized long before it can be a concern.  Mr. Lemoncello is worried about lawsuits (or cares about first doing no harm) in a way that Mr. Wonka never could be.  A fun light read.  After I finished it, DC1 read it three times IN A ROW.  I only read it the once.

Drive:  It’s ok.  It seems a bit facile.  I’m not sure how useful it actually is or how much advice I’d want to take from it.

#1 finally read the first Libromancer book (where “read” means read the first two chapters really carefully and then started getting irritated at every female stereotype masquerading as a person, skimmed the rest skipping large chunks, rolled her eyes a lot, and read a few of the reviews online).  She agrees with the reviewer who says, “Hines seems to have a reputation as one of the liberal good guys in SFF. Which is odd, because every female character here is a dreadful adolescent male wank fantasy.”  She notes that the Princess books were gawdawful, all “rape as plot point rape as back story rape rape rapity rape,” along with dreadful adolescent male fantasy. (Again, reading reviews just now, I’m not the only person who noticed this– here’s a comic one reviewer links to!)  It’s sad when “As a human being, he really tries” is a fairly high bar.  Should be baseline human decency.  #2 has lower standards for female characters having to actually be characterized as people rather than paper dolls and is looking forward to the next book in the series.  We both agree that the series would have been much better had Seanan McGuire written it.  Of course, MANY things would be better if Seanan McGuire wrote them.  It’s weird because his Goblin series doesn’t have such cruddy female characters or plot points and is actually somewhat creative in terms of relationships and things.  But you know, no romance in there.  He’s not ending up as an adolescent male fantasy.  Or maybe 2-d characters just work better in the Goblin universe… that may be what’s going on– Hines does obvious farce well but sucks at real character development, relying on standard tropes.

A Matter of Taste by Richard Lockridge– this one without his wife.  It was a super creepy noir psychological thriller (not my usual fare).  First sentence is gripping though, “Although he was well into his fifty-second year, Mr. Oliver Hillard had not yet killed anyone.”  As always (n=3) with the Lockridges, the first chapter stands as an entrancing vignette, though a particularly creepy one in this case.

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger. The problem with Gail Carriger books is that after reading the one you’re on, you often need to have the next one right away. And the next one HASN’T BEEN PUBLISHED YET. This is especially true with the penultimate book in each of her two published series thus far. Patience, #2 (who has this on her amazon wishlist for Christmas), and wait for the last book in this series to come out so you don’t have to WAIT A YEAR to find out what comes next.

What do you recommend for holiday reading?  What don’t you recommend?

Do you re-review papers you’ve rejected?

Sometimes I’ll review a paper for a journal and reject it.

A few months later, another editor will ask me to review the paper again for a different (usually worse) journal.

Initially my stand was to only review it if I thought I was going to accept it at that new journal.  (Say I’d suggested it wasn’t of general interest for Glam, but would be a good fit for Top Field, and then I got it to review for Top Field.)  I would politely decline otherwise.

Then an editor emailed me back to ask if I wouldn’t please reconsider my decline.  And another asked if I could send my previous referee report even though it wouldn’t be official.  Even though the paper might have changed!

So my new policy for something I rejected but didn’t think would fit without changes was to email the editor to say I’d already reviewed it, didn’t like it at the time, and might be biased given I’d already rejected it.  Would they like me to review it again?

So far 100% of editors have either asked me to re-review or to send my previous rejection.  So they can see if the author took my advice, they say.  I suspect they don’t check that carefully depending on what the other reviewers say.

This makes me uncomfortable.  I don’t really think it’s fair.  I wouldn’t want reviewers who didn’t like my work the first time to review it again without me having the ability to explain to them why their comments weren’t right for whatever reason or to see that I’d clarified the thing they thought was wrong but really was only written unclearly… or what have you.

But it’s what the editors want, and I’m still in a position where I want to keep editors happy.  So I think I’ll continue asking them what they want.  But I won’t feel good about it.

What do you do?  Do you ever get articles to review that you’ve reviewed before?  What do you do if you’re an editor and you send it out to someone who has already reviewed it?

December Mortgage Update: And money and school zones

Last month (November):
Balance:$37,254.58
Years left: 2.75
P =$1,054.86, I =$159.55, Escrow =$788.73

This month (December):
Balance:$34,190.77
Years left: 2.5
P =$1,066.94, I =$147.47, Escrow =$788.73

One month’s prepayment savings: $7.90

DC1 currently goes to private school.  Ze goes to private school because ze needed to start K early and the public schools wouldn’t talk to us about that.

The public schools have now changed their tune.  They have a district webpage on how to start K early, how to skip individual classes, and how to skip grades.  They note that enough people have taken these options that they now offer 7th grade algebra and 8th grade geometry at the middle schools.

At the same time, while we’ve been living in this transition neighborhood (the last frontier not changed into student housing, though I’m fairly sure there’s a houseful on our block), our school zones have changed twice.  And each time they’ve gotten worse.  We are now in the worst elementary school zone, and the “athletic” middle school.  Note that neither of these schools are the closest to our house… no, we’re the “rich” neighborhood that gets moved every 5 years to even out the “poor” districts, instead of the actually rich neighborhoods that never get touched.

If DC2 doesn’t need acceleration, then we have a chance at lotterying into a bilingual program at one of the better elementary schools.  That still wouldn’t have been enough for DC1 (and hasn’t been enough acceleration for some of our collegues’ kids, though it did work out until said kids became fluent in Spanish, at which point the lessons became much too slow).  Of course, DC2 has been, if anything, hitting milestones earlier.  Hir birthdate means that maybe only one year of acceleration would be needed instead of two (ze just makes rather than misses a cutoff), but that’s still one year too many to be eligible for the bilingual program even if ze did get in.

So that leaves us with choices.  1.  We could move before DC2 needs to start kindergarten, which could happen sooner than we think.  If we’re going to do this, it might make sense to sell the house before sabbatical/unpaid leave so we don’t have to deal with renters, just storage.  (Untold moving costs, though we’d probably buy a smaller house if we bought again, but I’d probably also get a longer commute which would suck.)  2.  We could send DC2 to the same private school that DC1 goes to ($9K/year).  3.  We could not try to accelerate and see what happens with the bilingual program lottery.  (Free, except in potential future therapy bills)  4.  We could accelerate as fast as possible through the elementary school and just cope and deal. (Free, except in time spent in conferences with the school.)  We could also rent an apartment in a better school zone, but the quality differential isn’t enough for that to be a feasible option like it might be in a large city– none of the elementary schools are all that great.

And who knows, the school zones might change again.

I’m guessing we’ll probably just stick with the same private school if it’s still in business.  Who knows.

Why is this all so hard?

Link Love

Well… this has been a week.

Remember when Gen X middle-class white folks thought that implicit bias and structural inequalities (which are terrible) were where we should be putting all of our anti-racism focus because we didn’t know that blacks were still being killed by whites with impunity?  When we knew that getting a cab was more difficult and police were more likely to give tickets (also terrible), but we didn’t realize that just walking outside could mean sudden inexplicable death?  When we thought the Rodney King thing was in the past?   Police brutality shouldn’t have to be video-taped in order to get press.   Children shouldn’t have to die for our eyes to be open.

Also for this Christmas season… Imagine A Christmas Story where Ralphie is black.  An icicle to the eye would be the least of his worries.  That is white privilege.  Never thinking to have made that connection before is white privilege.  The only people in this country for whom the justice system even has a chance of working are middle class white people up against middle class white people.  Poor people and minorities get shafted and rich people get away with far too much.  I’ve lost a lot of faith.

Even though state-sanctioned executions of black boys and teens are not a thing of the past, we should still be fighting against the patriarchy and kyriarchy on all fronts.

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Big Hero 6 has gender/racial diversity done right.  (#2 adds: Big Hero 6 is a great movie.  You should see it if you get a chance.  It’s funny, and also it shows how gorgeous San Francisco is!  Also it has a fat cat named Mochi.)

A rape analogy.

What women want, according to designers.

I want to buy whatever they are selling.

Flex your hustle muscles

Coffee is a tiny little mobster.

Flowchart for the opening of any and every Bond movie.

Journal submission recommendations from Larry Katz.

Contronyms

Unlike for most online postings, read the comments on this one!

A castly castle.

The lightsaber jokes begin.

I feel like this

What an editor does

Heroes and villains, Flemish masters style

Working at a research university:  illustrated

 

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