Two perpetual elements of American society, that are also richly analogous, are baseball and education. Baseball is a game of individuals, but those individual players must win as a team. The game is played as a competition not only against your own efforts, but against other teams as well as every other player and team who has ever walked onto the diamond. A batting average is only great if it stands up to the 120 year history of batting averages. If you look carefully, the entire weight of baseball history can be seen in each pitch, double play, or home run. The team’s and the individual’s fate are indissolubly, poetically connected. In this same manner, politicians, teachers, parents, and other players on the state’s educational field should understand that our seemingly solitary efforts manifest themselves into a tangible, but sometimes hard to detect, societal fabric that is judged against individual, societal and historical rubrics. We educators certainly cannot allow ourselves to drop the ball when it comes to our students’ futures. This task, however, requires the appropriate support from our other team members.
The American incarnation of the human project, that pursuit of Happiness, is similar in nature to baseball. We are a nation of individuals who are inexorably linked to each other. The Founding Fathers established a Democratic Republic that demands an educated citizenry. The Northwest Ordinance was passed twice by the founders: once under the Articles of Confederation and once under the U.S. Constitution. Being passed twice, it can be assumed that the founders were happy with its content as it relates to education. Article III of the Northwest ordinance begins, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” We educators were a centerpiece at the formation of this nation. The founders knew that history was awash with failed republics that fell apart because its citizens coveted power or money and ceased to appreciate its educational institutions. The search for the Good became a Machiavellian scavenging for power. There are many issues that great and influential thinkers like Plato, Rousseau, Locke, and Lincoln differ upon, but they all stressed that an educated person is the only one capable of being truly free. Educators are, traditionally, the sentinels that stand watch over civilization’s foundation.
To my fellow teachers, during this summer break and during this greatest of American Holidays, keep your eye on the ball. Know that your task is a crucial one. To the other position players on our team, support us well and let us do what the American Founders entrusted us to do. Playing this game with a hobbled fielder limits the entire team. With your support, educators will continue to help nurture and churn out future explorers, inventors, statesmen, and the next generation of even more inspiring teachers.