No doubt the goal of helping teachers get some extra school supply money was sincere. But whoever came up with the idea of having 10 teachers jostle for dollar bills clearly did not think this one through.
It occurred at a minor-league hockey game this past weekend in Sioux Falls, S.D. Ten teachers, wearing helmets and arm pads, had five minutes to stuff as much money as they could into their clothing. The teachers were on a carpet in the middle of the ice rink as fans at the game cheered them on.
According to the internet, the 10 teachers collected between $378 and $616. Several of them seemed pleased with the event and were glad to discuss what they planned to buy with the money they scooped up.
Good for these 10 gladiators. And good for the local mortgage company that donated $5,000 for the event. The company is getting plenty of national publicity for its money, some of it unflattering, because critics have correctly compared the competition to something straight out of “Squid Game” or “The Hunger Games.”
It probably wasn’t too hard to find 10 teachers willing to scramble for a few hundred dollars for their classrooms. But here’s the puzzling thing: How come nobody seemed to think about the needs of the other teachers in the Sioux Falls area, probably a couple of hundred at least, who didn’t get chosen to participate? What about supplies for their students?
You can already guess the responses:
• School budgets are huge and getting bigger. True. Education, both public and private, has become a multi-million-dollar business.
• Teacher pay has been rising. Also true. South Dakota’s average teacher pay is among the lowest in the country, but still is about $48,000 a year. It is fair to note that this pay is generally for nine or 10 months of work each year instead of 12 months. And by any measurement, a $48,000 salary is a decent living. Maybe not the best, but certainly not the worst.
Still, it’s hard to think of any other profession where employees are expected to put up some of their own money so that 20 other people — their students — have the supplies they need.
Shouldn’t teachers be able to depend on their employers — and by extension, the taxpayers or tuition payers who ultimately provide the funding — for proper supplies? Having 10 teachers wrestle for dollar bills in an ice rink is a strong signal that schools aren’t doing this.
There is significant competition for all the millions of dollars spent on education, and any teacher with experience knows that one of the first items to be cut from a school budget is classroom supplies. The decision makers hope that teachers or donors will make up the difference, and they are usually right.
The hockey team and the mortgage company ought to take the lead in seeking sponsors for each teacher’s classroom supplies in the Sioux Falls area. That would create a whole lot more good will than a cash grab in an ice rink.
— Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise-Journal