A video of teachers scrambling through a pit for cash went viral, with many criticizing the premise as demeaning and dystopian. The video was taken at a charity event during the Sioux Falls Stampede hockey game on Dec. 11, 2021, in South Dakota, where 10 teachers competed for money to buy supplies for their classrooms, sponsored by the bank CU Mortgage Direct.
According to the event description on the Stampede hockey team website:
New this season, the Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct are looking for teachers who would like to raise some cash for their classrooms! Not just some cash, but more than $5,000 will be going back to local schools! Teachers will compete to raise money in two ways.
1) Tickets - Each teacher will have their own ticket link that they can share. Each ticket bought will equal $5 that goes back to their school! In addition, the teachers that sell the most will get additional prizes.
2) Dash for Cash - During the 1st intermission on December 11th, teachers will compete against one another to grab as much cash as they can! There will be 5,000 $1 bills on the ice and teachers will get to keep all the money they grab for their classroom!
In the video, the teachers are shown crawling around a pit, grabbing as many dollar bills as they can within five minutes. Critics online called it dehumanizing and disgusting.
The bank CU Mortgage Direct had donated the money, according to the BBC. In response to the backlash, the company apologized in a statement: “Although our intent was to provide a positive and fun experience for teachers, we can see how it appears to be degrading and insulting towards the participating teachers and the teaching profession as a whole. We deeply regret and apologize to all teachers for any embarrassment this may have caused."
The teachers involved spoke to the local Sioux Falls Argus Leader paper about the event. Alexandria Kuyper, a fifth-grade teacher, said that this would help her cover costs for treats and holiday decorations. "I think it's really cool when the community offers an opportunity like this for things that [educators] a lot of times pay out of pocket for," she said.
Another said he would use the money to buy equipment for his school e-sports club, which was not a South Dakota High School Activities Association sanctioned sport, so relied on donations and fundraising.
Sioux Falls Education Association President Tim Eckart criticized the event: “While this event was a well intentioned gesture from our community, it really highlights the meager funding structure our teachers must work through to provide a high-quality education to our students. No educator should have to crawl on their hands and knees to supply proper educational tools for our students."
All in all, each teacher ended up with money ranging from $300 to around $500. After the controversy, the bank and hockey team announced they would be giving more money to each teacher that participated:
According to the National Education Association, the average annual salary for teachers in South Dakota is almost $49,000. This makes it among the lowest salaries for teachers across the U.S.
“Apology to US Teachers over ‘dash for Cash’ Charity Stunt.” BBC News, 14 Dec. 2021. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59646803. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.
"Teacher Pay and Student Spending: How Does Your State Rank? | NEA." National Education Association, https://www.nea.org/resource-library/teacher-pay-and-student-spending-how-does-your-state-rank. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.
Dash for Cash. https://www.sfstampede.com/dashforcash. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.
“‘Dash for Cash’ Provided a Strong Metaphor for Chronic Education Underfunding, Teacher Pay.” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com/story/opinion/2021/12/13/dash-cash-south-dakota-metaphor-teacher-salary-pay-underfunding-stampede/6495760001/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.
"“Dash for Cash” Stunt Demeans Teachers, Critics Say." CBS News, 13 Dec. 2021. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/south-dakota-teachers-dash-for-cash/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.
“Opinion | South Dakota’s ‘Dash for Cash’ Organizers Really Thought They Did Something.” MSNBC.Com, 14 Dec. 2021, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/why-south-dakota-teachers-dash-cash-felt-so-gross-n1285883. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.
“Sioux Falls-Area Teachers ‘Dash for Cash’ for Classroom Improvements at Stampede Game.” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 11 Dec. 2021, https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2021/12/11/dash-cash-stampede-hockey-teachers-sioux-falls/6448189001/. Accessed 14 Dec. 2021.