Guest Opinions

Let’s use teachers’ bad decision to learn more and show respect

Middleton teachers’ costumes depicting a U.S. border wall with the words “Make America Great Again” were roundly criticized.
Middleton teachers’ costumes depicting a U.S. border wall with the words “Make America Great Again” were roundly criticized. Screenshot via Facebook

Regarding the Middleton School District border wall costumes:

Sometimes the teachers need teaching. I’m Mexican-American and conservative, and I think the costume choices were in extremely poor judgment. I did not think that the teachers should have been fired, and it’s good they have been reinstated. I believe in second chances.

These teachers need to be sensitive to all the backgrounds of their students and tailor their actions accordingly. One in 10 Middleton School District students are of Mexican descent. Be cognizant of that. I work in higher education and I don’t necessarily agree with all of the viewpoints of college students, but I temper my speech so as to not be such an offense to people. I hate “snowflakes” and people that get upset at every little thing that people say, but use common sense and good judgment.

If students in the Middleton School District had family members who were jailed by the ATF on Malheur out in Oregon or on BLM lands in southern Nevada, most people would find it abhorrent if teachers dressed up as ATF officers. So just substitute ATF for U.S. Border Patrol, and Cliven Bundy or LaVoy Finicum for “people of Mexican descent,” and maybe one could understand the poor taste and bad judgment behind the teachers’ costume choices.

The teachers should be made to volunteer time working for organizations that assist our Latino population here in the Treasure Valley. Community Council of Idaho, Inc., Catholic Charities of Idaho, Centro de Comunidad y Justicia, Idaho Legal Aid Services or Idaho Council of Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs are some that come to mind. Then they can see the real struggle of the parents of the children they teach. They can teach those real-life lessons to future generations of American students that Americans of Mexican descent are hardworking, patriotic people and are not here to “invade.” They can see that the second generation of Mexican-Americans are small-business owners, public service workers, politicians, engineers, artists, pilots, doctors and loving family members.

Not all Mexican-Americans are illegals, but most of us have family members who are, so we understand the concerns of both sides.

We are all Americans. In the case of my family, the border actually crossed us, not the other way around. Name-calling and prejudices are so 1970s. Let’s leave it where it belongs: in the past. Why hate each other? It’s so much easier to love one another as Jesus Christ said.

I’m not saying we should throw the border open wide and let everyone in. Far from it. I believe in law and order. But I also believe in good taste and tact. Let’s turn this into a teaching moment instead of a wedge that divides the Treasure Valley and Idaho. Let’s join together and condemn these actions, but show each other that here in Idaho, we want to teach, not pass judgment.

Theodore Cardenas is a management assistant for the High School Equivalency and College Assistance Migrant Programs at Boise State University.