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‘Dash for Cash’ promotion raises concerns about South Dakota teacher pay

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 4:28 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - An event hosted by the Sioux Falls Stampede Saturday, December 11 is drawing a lot of criticism online. The inaugural “Dash for Cash” pitted ten South Dakota teachers against each other with a chance to win money for their classroom.

The whole thing sparked outrage about the value of teachers in the state.

The video has drawn millions of views on the internet, some online even comparing the event to the violent Korean Netflix series “Squid Game.”

The event featured a pile of 5,000 one-dollar bills, donated by CU Mortgage Direct, a Sioux Falls lender.

That money was dumped out on a rug at center ice, with hockey fans cheering on the competition, as teachers raced to grab all the cash they could.

South Dakota State Representative (D) Erin Healy, of Sioux Falls, says the optics aren’t good.

“I know that this was a private organization donating money to teachers, I think it was a well-intentioned event, but teachers should never have to grovel for money that’s needed for classroom improvements,” Healy said.

Healy says the whole thing opens up a larger conversation about teacher pay in South Dakota.

“It really just shows how truly broken our system is,” Healy said. “Events like this aren’t going to really solve our funding problem.”

President of the South Dakota Education Association Loren Paul says, on average, teachers are spending $750 out of their own pockets to give their students the supplies they need to learn.

In her recent budget address, Governor Kristi Noem proposed a 6% raise for educators in the state. Still, South Dakota ranks near the bottom for teacher salaries in the United States.

“We have a statewide educator shortage, teacher shortage, and I don’t know if there is a district in the state that isn’t looking for a position or a bunch of positions,” Paul said.

Healy says the first step forward will be approving the Governor’s proposal during the upcoming legislative session.

“I think if we can consistently give an increase to education over the next few years, especially if it’s above the rate inflation, then we could be in a better position, but that’s going to take a lot of effort when we go to Pierre in January,” Healy said.

Ultimately, it all goes back to how South Dakota values education.

”'Dash for Cash’ is one of those teachable moments; we can do better for our students by making sure our teachers have the supplies their students need,” Paul said.

The Stampede released a statement about the situation Monday afternoon, it reads:

On Saturday, December 11th, the Sioux Falls Stampede, in partnership with CU Mortgage Direct, hosted their first ever Dash For Cash promotion. 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 promotion was intended to help raise funds for area teachers and their classrooms. The Stampede received 31 applications and ten were randomly selected to participate. The ten teachers participating received over a combined $5,000 and a minimum of $500 each. Each teacher was profiled and introduced prior to the event as we highlighted their school and what the funds would be used for.

We take our role in the community seriously and work hard to support area non-profit groups in a variety of ways. Through the incredible support of our fans and corporate partners we are able to raise over $200,000 annually for local charities.

Together with CU Mortgage Direct we will be providing an additional $500 to those teachers that participated in the event as well as providing $500 to those additional 21 applicants that were not able to participate. In total, the Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct will contribute an additional $15,500 to area teachers.

Moving forward, the Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct will continue to support our teachers and will work with the SD Teachers Association on future events that will provide funding for our next generation. CU Mortgage Direct and the Stampede will have no further comment at this time.

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