Another May, another teacher appreciation day, week, or month, depending on who you ask. With the celebration came a slew of companies that were quick to jump on the “We Support Our Teachers” bandwagon.
Typically, these businesses “supported” teachers by offering everything from a BOGO (Buy One Get One) deal for giant burritos (Chipotle) to a free 44 ounce slush drink with a purchase (Sonic) or a free appetizer (Cheddar’s).
Heck you could even get a free sandwich, gooey cheesy included (Arby’s) or a dozen diabetes-inducing donuts at Krispy Kreme.
Most of these “We really appreciate our teachers” deals require teachers to either buy something or sort of set up a situation where it would have been awkward not to purchase additional items.
Who buys just an appetizer for gosh sakes? And if you go to get a free pizza buffet at Ceci’s, you still have to buy a drink and schlep your kids down and but them a full price buffet and drinks. And throw in a large coffee with those free donuts will ya?
They are tricks to get you into their stores and spend money that probably wouldn’t have spent otherwise. “Would you like curly fries and a drink with your free neon orange cheese-sauce covered roast beef sandwich Mrs. Jones?”
The simple fact is that these business don’t “support” teachers if the supported don’t support back. We love you teachers, as long as you buy one of our high profit sugary drinks or purchase dinner along with your free deep-fried appetizer.
This not-quit-a-scam scam has been going on for years. I remember getting a certificate for a “free burger” for my good grades in elementary school. Of course, my parents, who had to drive me to the Burger Chef so I could redeem my prized certificate, ended up with a bagful of burgers, fries and five drinks for the rest of the family.
When I became a teacher, Wienerschnitzel used to pass out a free chili dog coupon to every teacher as a “welcome back to school” promotion. Who wants a single chili dog and nothing else? Can I get cheese on that? Oh, and fries. And a large Mountain Dew. My “free” chili dog ended up costing me $6. What a deal! Thanks Wienerdog!
If businesses truly wanted to support teachers, they would cut the charade of “we-love-you-come-buy-stuff-from-us” and truly support them in a way that helped them as teachers.
For instance, instead of Mack’s Giant Hypothetical Nationwide Burger chain offering free sodas with the purchase of any combo meal, why not say “We have decided to send 1000 teachers, all expenses paid, to a conference that will help them improve their teaching?
Or how about instead of giving someone a free monster burrito, how about saying something like “We understand how expensive it is going back to school? We will pay the first year’s tuition at the local university for 50 teachers to start work on their Master’s degrees. No purchase required.”
Which of those choices do you think would have a bigger impact and prove how much the business truly “supports” teachers? Of course, they might have to actually pony up some cash to do that, which might hurt profits.
This idea is not without precedent.
This year during Teacher Appreciation Week, TCEA, the largest statewide education technology organization in the nation offered a free one year membership to any teacher that signed up for it.
No purchase required. No strings attached. Free. A $55 value. At the end of the year, the membership expires.
Teachers can renew or not, no harm no foul. They didn’t even ask for a credit card number! In that year, teachers have access to all of the online tools, trainings, and professional development that are offered as part of the membership.
That is a great example of actually supporting teachers.
So I say dear businesses, stop “supporting” over-stressed educators with free high calorie fried cheesy foods destined to increase their risk of a cardiac infarction or diabetes. Support them by providing them with the funds to improve their skills as educators. That helps them, helps their students, helps the community helps everyone.
And as a long term investment, it even helps you. You just have to see the big picture, not just your bottom line.
Now that’s a good deal!
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.