Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
I want to respond to your request made in your One Man's Perspective column of Feb. 12. This had to do with the teacher in California who went off the deep end by totally denigrating those who serve in the military. He did this in a classroom, on the taxpayers' time, and it went viral. The question you posed was "When do the actions of a teacher in the classroom cross a line?' A corollary was "when does a teacher's right to free speech violate the trust a parent gives when they allow their child to be part of the education system?"
Here are my thoughts. First of all, I wonder how many other times, concerning how many other topics, have the students of Gregory Salcido been subjected to similar rants? Have his peers and superiors known that he acts in this manner? Have they ever spoken to him in an effort to set him straight? If so, shame on him; if not, shame on them! This is a high school teacher who also is a city councilman? In my world, no matter what the setting, his tirade, personal attack, and bullying need not be tolerated one day more. Nowhere in professional teacher preparation courses is it ethical, advised or promoted that one should conduct oneself the way this guy did. Yes, he's entitled to his opinion. Yes, he has the right to present viewpoints that differ with those held by his students. He also has the obligation to point out that many people don't agree with him, that they have the right to their beliefs, and that free expression is a two way street.
I don't know the age of the teacher (and I have no interest in watching the video of him acting badly). Perhaps he had a bad experience with peers that have served in the armed forces. Maybe he was influenced by those who do sign up with less than exemplary motives. I could even cut him a bit of slack if somewhere in the school's student handbook there was some type of policy prohibiting certain signs and/or symbols on one's sweatshirt. Had he ever had a prior, civil conversation with the "offending students"? Does the guy even know the parents of the teens he called out? Has he had any run-ins with them? Is this his one and only breach of comportment? He needs to apologize in person to the parents he has maligned.
As an Army veteran of the Vietnam Era (I volunteered before the draft would have taken me) I find many who have not served have no idea of the sacrifice and commitment of those who put their lives on the line 24/7. I can forgive ignorance. I can tolerate those who protest having a strong military. What I cannot stomach are those who badmouth, ridicule, bully, abuse power, and set a bad example of what it means to teach, inspire and motivate our nation's youth. What I would like to see happen is for the teacher in question to write an official apology to the students he disrespected, pass an appropriate cultural sensitivity class ( one that is taught three hours each Saturday, for say, 10 weeks), and meet with the school board to defend his reasons for continuing to be on the payroll.
Finally, the City of Pico Rivera needs to officially censure Mr. Salcido by putting him "on probation" for the rest of 2018. He is obviously displaying conduct unbecoming of an elected city official, and as such he should have to demonstrate that his untoward actions are not going to be repeated in any venue. That's how I feel, and I don't mind telling you.
Bill Kersting, Spencer