SAY WHAT? - Symbolically merging the inequities and indignities of late-stage capitalism with the gladiatorial efforts of underfunded, overworked educators to do their vital job, ten South Dakota teachers gamely clambered around an ice rink on their hands and knees this weekend grabbing as many $1 bills as they could from a $5,000 heap to help buy basic school supplies as spectators hooted and cheered. The tawdry Dash-For-Cash, held during a Sioux Falls Stampede hockey game, was funded by CU Mortgage Direct as "an awesome group thing to do for the teachers," because “with everything that has gone on for the last couple of years" - like, say, their struggling to wrangle up to 30 kids into order or at least onto Zoom amidst an ongoing pandemic that's seen burned-out teachers leaving in droves and rabid anti-mask-or-mandate-or-CRT parents harassing and assaulting them just for trying to keep their kids and themselves alive and in pencils on the lowest teacher pay in the country in a state with one of the lowest rates of education spending despite a budget surplus last year of $85.9 million, which is maybe why they walked out last year - with all that, "they deserve whatever the heck they get," which in this case was a lousy few hundred bucks in exchange for being part of a cheap spectacle with a touch of degradation thrown in, which evidently nobody thought might not be a good look.
Despite the heedless crowd, many online were appalled by now-viral video of the teachers - many of whom have masters degrees, spend hundreds of dollars of their own on supplies and "go above and beyond, day in and day out" - groveling on the ice for singles which they stuffed down their fronts. The whole Hunger-Games-for-teachers vibe feels especially obscene in a country whose federal budget allots eight times more to military than education costs despite up to 90% of the country believing education needs more, and just as TIME Magazine named tax-evading, government-subsidy-receiving, racial-discriminating, union-busting, giving-zero-to-good-causes billionaire Elon Musk "Person of the Year." Say what?!? Instead, many urged a Dash-for-Cash all around to pay defense contractors, members of Congress, cops and fat cats. As to teachers, quoting Twitter: "Holy fucking dystopia. Just give them the fucking money, and thank them for what they do." Meanwhile, following outrage over South Dakota's dash, Sioux Falls Stampede and CU Mortgage Direct issued a joint apology Monday, explaining that "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 them. To atone for their cluelessness, they said they'll give each groveling teacher another $500, along with $500 to each of 21 teachers who applied for the affront but didn't take part. Still exceedingly small potatoes, but teachers can't be choosers.
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching (sic) spiritual doom." - the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
(Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. )