- Organizers apologized for an event that had teachers scrambling for dollar bills on the floor.
- The groups behind the South Dakota “Dash for Cash” said they’d aimed to give teachers a “fun experience.”
- The Sioux Falls Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct added, “We can see how it appears to be degrading.”
Organizers have apologized for an event at a junior hockey game in South Dakota that drew outrage for pitting teachers against each other for dollar bills for their schools.
The Sioux Falls Stampede hockey team, in partnership with CU Mortgage Direct, held their inaugural “Dash for Cash” event on Saturday. A clip from the event quickly made the rounds online, showing a handful of teachers kneeling on a mat in a hockey rink, scrambling for their share of a total of $5,000 in dollar bills and stuffing the cash into their shirts to see how much they could raise in five minutes for their classrooms and schools.
The video garnered criticism for a premise many called “dystopian” and “degrading.” The event even drew comparisons to the dystopian Netflix series “Squid Game,” with CNN anchor Bill Weir tweeting, “We’re just a few sharpened sticks away from public education Squid Game.”
The event’s organizers issued an apology on Monday for the Dash for Cash, as previously reported by local newspaper Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
“The promotion was intended to help raise funds for area teachers and their classrooms,” wrote the Sioux Falls Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct in their 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 groups say they received 31 applications and randomly selected 10 teachers to take part in the scramble for cash. Each teacher received at least $500 during the event. The groups say they will give an additional $500 to each of the participating teachers, as well as the other 21 who applied but weren’t chosen for the cash grab. All told, the groups will give another $15,500 to area teachers, they said.
Ryan Knudson, CU’s Mortgage Direct’s head of business development and marketing, previously told the Argus Leader, “With everything that has gone on for the last couple of years with teachers and everything, we thought it was an awesome group thing to do for the teachers. The teachers in this area, and any teacher, they deserve whatever the heck they get.”
Some of the teachers who participated said they planned to use the money for things like standing desks, wobble chairs, equipment for an e-sports team, and document cameras, according to the Argus Leader.
“I think it’s really cool when the community offers an opportunity like this for things that educations a lot of times pay out of pocket for,” said Alexandria Kuyper, a fifth-grade teacher at Discovery Elementary School, to the newspaper.
Barry Longden, a teacher and e-sports club coach at Harrisburg High School, told the Argus Leader, “I’ve been throwing my name in the hat everywhere I can find so that way I can get opportunities to get money for the kids.”
For the 2019-2020 school year, South Dakota teachers had an average salary of $49,220, ranking 49th in the state for teacher pay, above only Mississippi. Teachers from around the country sometimes spend thousands of dollars a year from their own pocket for supplies for their students and classrooms, Insider previously reported. In 2019, teachers popularized a viral #clearthelist trend to crowdfund money for school supplies.