Time again for a slice of Americana…hot dogs, apple pie, baseball, and the bashing of public schools

With STAAR scores finding their way to inboxes and mailboxes, I resurrect a post I wrote a few years ago in response to a political cartoon published in the Dallas Morning News. The commentary was offered in a letter to the editor of the DMN, but the piece went unpublished, until now…

As the dog days of summer approach, it’s that time again for a slice of Americana…hot dogs, apple pie, baseball, and the bashing of public schools. With expectations reigning high as ever before in Texas (and I’m not referring to the Rangers), numerous articles and political cartoons go to print daily to strikeout the Texas public school system.

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Taking from America’s pastime, imagine Major League Baseball announced it would change the rules of the game but refused to divulge the details. Pitchers and catchers report with speculation of the game-altering changes. Larger strike zone? Spring training opens with the rule changes known to the commissioner’s office where they remained under lock and key. Instant replay? The league office offers the only advice it’s willing to give, “Play ball.” (After all, the players are professionals; they can adjust.) The season plays out as any other. Headed into the postseason, MLB calls a press conference to announce the rule changes to be implemented in the playoffs the following week. The mound is to be moved from 60 feet to 45, a major advantage to the pitcher as the hitter has less time to react; and although the recorded rules mandate a minimum distance of 250 feet at the foul poles and 400 to center field, teams must renovate the corners to 300 and center to 500 feet (at the teams’ expense). “However,” the commissioner reassures, “batters will be given four strikes instead of three to adjust to the immediate rule changes.”

“Heresy!” baseball purist would shout. “Impossible!” the managers and players would cry. Columnists would rush to be the first to file stories slamming the league for such ludicrous changes to the game. Twitter would blow up. SportsCenter would drop all programming to talk baseball 24/7. Current players, legends, anchors, commentators would take to airwaves offering their insight.
Unrelenting, the games would go on. Pitchers would awkwardly heave balls toward home, and hits would be few and far between. Run production? Nonexistent. The series would appear sloppy. An unrecognizable mess.

Sports talk radio switchboards would be jammed with fans. But whom would they scoff? The hitters who are unable to produce under such drastic and harsh conditions? I doubt it. Nary would a call accuse the [professional] players of being unable to adjust. Not one would point out that the batters were provided with a “lower standard” (of additional strikes) to produce.

And yet, articles and political cartoons do this daily to Texas educators. It’s a sad state to be outraged by sport but allow the belittlement of the dedicated professional teachers who give of themselves not to a game, but to the education of our children. Our teachers deserve the support we would give our heroes in the game. Take a moment to support a teacher you know. Buy him a hot dog, bake her an apple pie, or send Rangers tickets, heaven knows, teachers can’t afford to go to the ballpark any longer.

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