Question: When did it become okay for public school teachers in America to espouse their personal opinions in profanity-laced tirades to their students in classrooms?
Answer: Never. It’s never okay!
Apparently, Southern California former high school history teacher Gregory Salcido failed to get the memo on this topic.
The 49-year-old Salcido went on his offensive, anti-military rant, referring to U.S. servicemembers as “lowest of our low” and “dumbs – – ts” in front his students in his classroom at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, southeast of Los Angeles.
A student – who was wearing a Marines sweatshirt and who reportedly plans to join the military – videotaped the rant. The video was published on Facebook by an adult (supposedly a friend of one of the student’s parents) in January of this year, and the video went viral. Salcido is heard talking in tones that sounded as if he was picking on, bullying and intimidating the students.
Last week, the El Rancho Unified School District’s Board of Education voted unanimously to fire Salcido. The terminated teacher will have some time to challenge his firing. Side note: Salcido serves on his community’s city council. As of press time, he has rejected calls for him to step down. A petition to recall Salcido has reportedly been circulated and is awaiting verification from the city clerk.
Still … HOORAY! This man should not be teaching anyone anything – ever again!
As a history teacher, you would think he would realize that our military servicemembers, past and present, fight to preserve our freedoms we hold dear. Like our freedom of speech that Salcido obviously enjoys.
America hasn’t been ruled by a foreign government since we successfully waged our battle for independence against England. And our freedoms have remained intact largely because we have not been conquered by a foreign military. We don’t live in a totalitarian state. Why is that? It’s because of our brave, skilled, and smart members of the military!
But even if Salcido doesn’t value our military (and he clearly doesn’t), that’s his opinion. He has a right to think what he wants to think. His mindset does not have to conform to anyone else’s.
However, his opinion has no place in a classroom. No teacher has a right to impose his or her opinions upon students in the classrooms. Those pupils couldn’t just get up and leave if they didn’t like what he was saying. Furthermore, no teacher has no right to use profanity with students.
Yes, it’s good for students to learn critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills. It’s good for them to learn that other people’s opinions may differ from theirs and it’s okay to listen to opinions with which you may not disagree. Teaching students how to respectfully disagree and even have issue-based debates using facts to bolster their arguments is also good.
But for Salcido to use his position as a teacher to pedal his profanity-laced, ill-informed opinions is flat-out wrong. It’s an abuse of his authority. Not once did Salcido challenge the students and say “What do you think on this issue?” or “If you don’t agree, let’s discuss why you don’t agree.”
He wasn’t challenging them to think. He just wanted an audience for his one-man, anti-military show.
He started in with some bigoted statements when trying to make his point that the U.S. military, through the years, has been weak.
Salcido said U.S. armed forces was losing to “dudes wearing freaking robes and chanclas [flip-flops] in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“The data is in, we don’t have a good military. We couldn’t beat the Vietnamese. They’re a bunch of people this freaking big throwing rice at us,” he added.
Salcido claimed he was only thinking of the students when he shared his views with them. He said he wanted them to be ambitious – to aim higher than the military. He told the students that young people usually joined the military because they were in some kind of trouble, couldn’t get into college or get a job.
Salcido misinformed these young people. Being a servicemember, protecting the American people and our democracy from enemies far and near, that’s a high aspiration – and an admirable one. The irony is, if our military personnel were “the lowest of the low” and were not intelligent individuals, he wouldn’t have the right to publicly say what he said to those students. His speech would not be protected.
If there are veterans, servicemembers, and military family members reading this, please know that Salcido does not speak for everyone. There are lots of people who value you and are grateful that you do what you do – or have done – for our nation. We’re grateful to those who sacrifice spending time with their loved ones who honorably serve our nation and protect us. We know that when we’re asleep, our military is wide awake – keeping us safe.
If there are children and young adults out reading this, please know that Salcido and people who share his views speak for themselves – but they don’t have to speak for you if you don’t want them to do so.
Understand that being a member of the United States military is one of the highest callings there is. It can be a rewarding experience or a terrific, long-term career choice. Talk to a veteran, a servicemember, or someone in a military family member, and you will find intelligent, caring, selfless and brave individuals.
So, don’t buy in when people try to sell you their opinions … even if it’s a teacher or some other adult in your life. Respectfully disagree when possible, and please avoid vulgar language. If you are not in a position to do respectfully and calmly voice an opposing view, then simply remain silent. And if your teacher is stepping out of the bounds of an educator, report that to your parents and your principal.
Listen, you don’t have to adopt my opinions, either. You are entitled to your opinion. But please: Respect other people’s viewpoints.
Show how smart you are. Do your own research. Talk to many different people. Do some critical thinking and analysis and reach your own fact-based and logic-based conclusions.
And if you become a teacher or someone in authority someday, don’t be like Salcido. He clearly forgot that when you’re a teacher it’s not about the teacher and his or her personal views on the world.
Salcido clearly didn’t get the memo about public school teachers in America espousing their personal opinions in profanity-laced tirades to their students in the classrooms. As long as America is a land of democracy, the aforementioned is NEVER okay!
Consider this your memo.