(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Last week, I gave a commencement speech for the BASIS middle school. Newsweek recently named the BASIS Tucson the nation’s top high school. Charter schools took 10 out of the top 100 spots, which is far out of proportion with their numbers.
I had no idea of what to talk about, so I researched commencement speeches on the internet. There seemed to be two models: first you can quote a philosopher and give advice. Second, you can talk about whatever happens to be on your mind.
I chose model 1. For my philosopher quote, I used this nugget that I have seen attributed to Zen Buddhism:
The Master in the Art of Living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion.
He hardly knows which is which.
He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.
To him he’s always doing both.
When I first saw that quote, I said to myself “WOW- that’s what I want to be when I grow up!”
Let’s face it though, I’m not in much danger of growing up, so it remains only an aspiration for me.
The quote however perfectly describes my colleague at the Goldwater Institute Clint Bolick. The magazine Legal Times recently honored Clint in compiling “The 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” to mark the magazine’s 30th anniversary. The list honored attorneys for upholding the legal profession’s core values and “fighting to expand liberties and protect civil rights.”
Congratulations to Michael and Olga Block and their BASIS team, and the other charter schools making the list. Congratulations also to Clint, the only person I know getting lifetime achievement awards at the age of 39 (Ok, 39ish) and happily spending his time doing what he loves- suing bureaucrats.