When videos from a Sioux Falls fundraiser showing teachers on their hands and knees grabbing $1 bills to fund their classrooms went viral, social media users were rightfully outraged
In today’s edition of “we live in a literal dystopian nightmare,” a group of teachers from South Dakota inadvertently went viral over the weekend. The viral moment went down during a hockey game fundraiser that was reportedly meant to help support their need for classroom supplies. Videos from the fundraiser, hosted by the Sioux Falls Stampede Hockey Club, show 10 local teachers on their hands and knees, scrambling to grab and hold onto as many $1 bills as they could during the intermission of a Saturday game, with people swiftly calling the event out for being deeply dystopian and cruel.
The local team hosted the inaugural “Dash for Cash” event, inviting fans at the game to cheer on the group of teachers as they gathered around the center of the ice, wearing hockey helmets and dropping to their knees to scour as many $1 bills out of $5,000 as they possibly could, stuffing the cash into their shirts, pockets, pants, and shoes.
Reporter Annie Todd of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader shared videos from the event on Twitter, where they quickly went viral — although not for the reasons event organizers likely hoped for.
With teachers nationwide severely underpaid in already underfunded schools — all after adapting to the past two years of teaching amid a global pandemic both virtually and in person — it didn’t take long for the videos to rack up millions of views, with plenty of people calling out the event for being dehumanizing and dystopian. Some also compared it to the recent Netflix hit Squid Game, in which characters from the Korean series compete in deadly games to win a giant piggy bank full of cash.
In a statement to the local news outlet, Ryan Knudson, Director of Business Development and Marketing for CU Mortgage Direct, the company that donated the funds, said, “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,” adding, “The teachers in this area, and any teacher, they deserve whatever the heck they get.”
The participating teachers revealed plans to buy cameras for classroom use, flexible seating, such as standing desks or wobble chairs, or sports equipment for their teams. Alexandria Kuyper, a fifth grade teacher at Discovery Elementary School, said, “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.”
According to the National Education Association union, South Dakota pays an average salary of $48,984 for teachers in the state — 50th in the country, including Washington, D.C. So while it seems the event was created with good intentions, it’s not surprising why some feel it might have been better to just split the cash evenly between each teacher and spare them from having to crawl on their hands and knees for it.
For what it’s worth, the highest-earning recipient from the event scored $616, while the lowest received $379.