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South Dakota teachers scramble for cash

Teachers scramble to gather as many $1 bills as they can from a pile of cash in a competition in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on December 11, 2021. (Photo: News Today/YouTube/screenshot)

'Tax Billionaires Already': Viral Video Shows Teachers Scramble for Cash in 'Dystopian' Contest

"Imagine the U.S. military having to do this for their money," said one disgusted critic.

Julia Conley

Footage of public school teachers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota scrambling on an ice rink to gather one-dollar bills for school supplies went viral over the weekend, with labor leaders and economic justice advocates pointing at the video as the latest evidence that schools are drastically underfunded and corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share in taxes.

Onlookers cheered Saturday night as the teachers participated in the first-ever "Dash for Cash" at a hockey game. Five thousand dollars in one-dollar bills were laid out on a mat on the ice and the educators were given five minutes to stuff the cash into their shirts so they could use the money to buy school supplies and pay for classroom upgrades.

The money was donated by a local mortgage company, CU Mortgage Direct, according to The Guardian.

Human rights attorney Qasim Rashid called the competition "dystopian," "disgusting," and "dehumanizing."

"Tax billionaires already," he tweeted.

"South Dakota treats international money launderers better than teachers."

South Dakota is one of the lowest-ranked states in terms of education spending. According to census data, the state spends more per student than only 13 other states.

Teachers in the state also ranked last-in-the-nation for compensation in 2016 and in 2021, according to the Argus Leader, a newspaper based in Sioux Falls. The chronic low funding for public education sparked a teacher walkout in the city in early 2020. South Dakota teachers are paid an average of $48,984 per year.

A 2018 survey by the U.S. Department of Education showed that teachers in the state spend an average of $350 of their own money to pay for classroom supplies.

"My mother was a public school teacher in South Dakota. She also worked as a waitress and housekeeper to make ends meet," said organizer Nick Estes in response to the Dash for Cash. "This video shows how South Dakota teachers are humiliated just to fund their classrooms today. Imagine the U.S. military having to do this for their money."

While teachers in South Dakota are left scrambling for money to pay for school supplies, as Common Dreams reported last week, the state has become a haven for ultra-rich people looking to hide their assets and avoid taxes. More than 80 out of 106 trusts in the U.S. are located in South Dakota, granting secrecy and protection to the wealthy and powerful.

"South Dakota treats international money launderers better than teachers," tweeted Jason Linkins, deputy editor at The New Republic.

The state is also ending 2021 with an $86 million budget surplus, noted Kooper Caraway, president of the South Dakota Federation of Labor.

Last week, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem proposed a 6% increase in education funding for next year, but South Dakota Education Association Loren Paul warned the increase is not enough to fix chronic problems with underfunding.

"Our problem is the years where we don't even meet inflation, and we've had several of those," Paul told local outlet KELO last week.

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