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.
JUST IN: An arena in South Dakota is holding a “Dash for Cash” where teachers get on their knees and fight for one dollar bills that they can use for classroom supplies while spectators watch and cheer. (h/t @AnnieTodd96) pic.twitter.com/jIht84Ls9W
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) December 12, 2021
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.
Disgusting & dehumanizing. Tax billionaires already. This is dystopian.
South Dakota arena holds a “Dash for Cash” where teachers get on their knees & fight for $1 bills to use for class supplies as people watch & cheer.?
SD ranks 29th in K-12 educationpic.twitter.com/JCaLabloYd
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) December 13, 2021
This just should not be.
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” -MLK https://t.co/8fTNMlJQAa
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) December 13, 2021
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:
We have an update from the Stampede & CU Mortgage Direct: They are providing an additional $500 to the 10 teachers who participated in the Dash for Cash, and $500 to the 21 other teachers who applied but weren't able to participate. That's an additional $15,500 to area teachers. https://t.co/dY77kRW555
— Morgan Matzen (@bymorganmatzen) December 13, 2021
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.