Originally Published: February 1, 2018 6:05 a.m.
Gregory Salcido is a teacher of history and U.S. government at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, California. Salcido is also is a former mayor and a sitting council member.
One of his students wore a Marine Corps shirt to class. That caused a five-minute rant by the teacher to his students on just what he thought of the people who sign up to defend this country.
The student recorded it on his cell phone.
“Your freakin’ stupid Uncle Louie or whatever. They’re dumb-----. They’re not high-level bankers. They’re not academic people. They’re not intellectual people.
“They’re the freaking lowest of our low.”
Before we condemn him strongly, and we will, it is important to add that other students who were in that class say the video doesn’t include all the remarks. They say Salcido also said some positive things about the military. They also said that he is a favorite teacher among the students and known for pushing them to success.
We appreciate the context, but what Salcido said is incredibly disrespectful to the men and women who are defending our freedoms. He owes all of them an apology.
As with any time you paint with a broad brush, you’re likely to be wrong. Some of the folks serving in the military may not have been top of their class in high school. That doesn’t mean they should be disrespected. They are putting their lives at risk and trusting in leadership to defend America in whatever manner those leaders deem best.
Additionally, many top students choose the military because it’s a family tradition or they have a deep love of country and a burning desire to serve.
Meet Remington Reimer, who was valedictorian of Joshua High School in Texas. He made national news in June 2013 when he gave the commencement speech. Reimer, who decided on a future at the U.S. Naval Academy, was told if he deviated from the preapproved speech, his mic would be shut off.
He read the preapproved speech and then added some more. His mic was cut off.
“It was intimidating having my high school principal threaten my future because I wanted to stand up for the Constitution and acknowledge my faith and not simply read a government-approved message,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a telephone interview.
The school carried out its threat, telling the Naval Academy that Reimer had poor character. After the uproar, the school apologized and revised its policies.
Our military is filled with many such fine men and women who are willing to be leaders and fight for what is best about this country. Anyone showing them disrespect has no reason to expect respect from the rest of us.
There was a time in this nation when our teachers would present both sides of an argument and then let the students debate, improving their critical thinking. It seems we are getting away from that and, instead of encouraging students how to think, many teachers are telling them what to think. That needs to stop.
Salcido remarks were wrong, and saying them in his role as a teacher to young, developing minds is very troubling. An apology won’t undo what he did, but it’s a good place to start.
See related viral social media post below