An education scholar said Friday he believes school choice could have prevented students from having to put up with Gregory Salcido, the California teacher fired after calling soldiers “dumbsh*ts.”
The El Rancho Unified School District fired Salcido, a former Pico Rivera mayor, Tuesday after he went on an anti-military rant in class. He called soldiers “dumbsh*ts” and the “lowest of our low.” School choice could have weeded the teacher out before the incident, an education scholar explained while speaking with The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Salcido had a history of complaints against him,” Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of education studies, Lance Izumi, told TheDCNF. “This wasn’t the first time that somebody brought something up.”
The former mayor had previously made headlines for allegedly smacking a student he termed disruptive in 2012 and the school district placed him on leave in 2010 after he told a student “shut up, Kelly, before I kill you.” Izumi termed Salcido’s termination an “anomaly,” arguing that it only happened because one of the former teacher’s students recorded the rant and the school board got thousands of messages from the public.
The education scholar also asserted that tax credits, education savings accounts, and other options could have helped parents avoid Salcido in the first place.
School choice “incentivizes the school board and the school district to look at the types of people they have in their own classrooms,” Izumi told TheDCNF. “If they know that students and their parents can use a school choice tool to go to a Catholic school or some private, independent school and they don’t have to come to the local public school … then they’re going to think twice about what kind of teachers they’re going to be putting into classrooms.”
“They’re not going to just unthinkingly put in a guy like Gregory Salcido because the students really have no place else to go,” he said.
The Pacific Research Institute scholar cited examples from his book, “The Corrupt Classroom,” of teachers whom parents could have avoided had they received access to school choice tools. One New York elementary student received a fill-in-the-blank question regarding President Donald Trump and the “correct” answers attributed negative qualities to the president. The parent told his child not to answer the question and the student received a grade reduction for not doing so.
In another instance, a North Carolina high school English teacher compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, the education scholar noted.
“I’m sure that a lot of those parents, just like the parents in Pico Rivera would have probably liked to have had an exit to get out of there through school choice,” he said.
Izumi also addressed Congress’ rejection to much of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ budget proposal. The secretary wished to cut department spending by $3.6 billion, yet Congress decided to increase it by $3.9 billion.
“The Republicans always say that they’re trying to pull back the control of [education by] Washington and that they’re trying to give more local control to states,” the education scholar explained. “And yet, when they’re given the opportunity to vote on that, to really put their actions where their mouths are, they fail miserably.”