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This Is Not OK, South Dakota

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 13, 2021 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 13, 2021 |


I’m sure the initial idea for this stunt was well-intentioned. I also suspect that the local hockey team behind this promotion, the Sioux Falls Stampede, as well as the company sponsoring it, CU Mortgage Direct, had no idea that it would go viral. But it did, and it is not a good look.

Below, you will see 10 South Dakota teachers. They are competing with one another to see who can scoop up the most money, which they will use to pay for additional classroom supplies for their students. Each of the teachers had to apply for this “honor” by explaining what they would do with the money.

I will say this much: Good teachers will go to great lengths — even dehumanize themselves — for the benefit of their students. That is a great thing. That teachers would have to dehumanize themselves in front of a crowd of people (and all of social media) for the opportunity to split $5,000 unevenly 10 ways is not a great thing.

Teachers in South Dakota have the second-lowest average teacher pay in America ahead of only Missississippi, where they pay their teachers in coupons. They shouldn’t have to ask for additional money for their classrooms. And they certainly shouldn’t have to play Squid Games for their students.

“I hope … the absurdity of that image of teachers on their hands and knees in the middle of a hockey rink, trying to grab money, brings attention to the education funding needs that exist here in Sioux Falls, across South Dakota and across the U.S.,” a South Dakota state senator told The Washington Post. It’s a good reminder to parents ahead of the holiday break to give your kids’ teachers gift cards. Lots and lots of gift cards. Chances are, they’ll end up using them to buy classroom supplies for your kids, anyway.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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