The inaugural “Dash for Cash” event at Saturday’s Sioux Falls Stampede junior hockey game featured 10 local teachers on a rug on the center ice, scooping up $5,000 in donated $1 bills and stuffing them into their shirts and pockets. The campaign encouraged teachers to raise as much money as possible to help fund their classroom projects.
Then came the backlash.
The president of the state teachers’ union echoed a similar sentiment.
“While the Dash for the Cash may have been well-intentioned, it only underscores the fact that educators do not have the resources needed to meet the needs of their students,” Loren Paul of the South Dakota Education Association told DailyExpertNews .
“As a state, we shouldn’t force teachers to crawl on ice rinks to get the money they need to fund their classrooms. We need to do better for our educators, but most importantly, we need to do better for our students. .”
The event organizers have apologized
The event was organized by the Sioux Falls Stampede, which participates in the amateur United States Hockey League, in partnership with local backer CU Mortgage.
“Each teacher was profiled and introduced prior to the event as we highlighted their school and what the money would be used for,” the statement said. “While our intention was to provide teachers with a positive and fun experience, we can see how humiliating 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.”
South Dakota scores low in teacher salary
Teachers spend about $750 a year out of pocket on teaching materials and related expenses, Paul said, adding that the state has a teacher shortage.
“We can’t invest in our workforce without supporting the hard workers we already have here, and that includes teachers,” she said.
Noem recommended a 6% increase in government budgets for education and urged school districts to use it on teachers.
“Our teachers work with each student in a unique way to prepare them for the future,” Noem said. “School districts should invest the 6% increase directly into our teachers and our other district staff… They deserve our support, so I recommend we give it to them.”
The episode draws attention – and more money – to underfunded teachers
Despite the backlash, something good seems to be coming out of the Dash for Cash promotion.
The event organizers say they are giving an additional $500 to the teachers who participated in the event and $500 to each of the 21 candidates not selected to participate.
“In total, the Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct will contribute an additional $15,500 to teachers in the area,” the organizers said. “We take our role in the community seriously and work hard to support nonprofits in the region in a variety of ways.”
DailyExpertNews’s Lucy Kafanov contributed to this story.