Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tabula Rasa

Sometimes I wonder what my political views would be if I had gotten the opportunity to make those choices outside of the context of social construct that is political life in this country. I would like to think that I would still be as socially liberal as I am, I don't much care what my fiscal policy would be, but I am way less confidant of that than I would like to be. If I was raised in a socially conservative, heavily capitalist, "Don't Tread on Me" environment, I don't think I could say I would be what I am.

I was sitting in a class last night and we were talking about school choice. School choice means a lot of different things and I'll preface this discussion with the caveat that I have no idea how I feel about the concept. One aspect of school choice is public choice, where a parent can choose to send their student to any other public school. Currently, this typically happens when schools aren't meeting the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standard of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). Once a school is deemed "failing" parents are allowed to voluntarily move their students to other public school. The second educational choice is to enter a charter school. Usually entrance to a charter is determined by a lottery within the community, with preference sometimes given to families (basically, if the brother/sister is already in the school the second, third, fourth, etc. children have higher chances). I went to a Montessori charter school for three years and truly enjoyed my time there, especially the second two years, but I watched many of my peers really struggle, particularly upon reentry to the traditional public school system (the charter was only K-8). The third and generally most controversial form of choice is voucher systems. If voucher programs are available, students can move to private schools and their public funds will follow them.

Republicans tend to favor voucher programs, the Obama administration has actively opposed them, and I don't think I like them very much, but I have no idea whether that is because I really think they're wrong, or because I know that being liberal means I oppose them. Charter schools are an even bigger shenanigan, largely because people seem so divided. I think I like them, but I liked the one I was at. I really disliked a recent school board candidate in my hometown who didn't like them, but I don't know if that is because it feels like a personal affront to a system that served me well, or because I really think charter schools are important.

Mostly, I just wish I could have had a chance to make up my minds about these issues, and all issues, outside of the bubbles of liberalism or conservatism. And I wonder how different of a person I would be, and, for some reason, it really disturbs me that I might not be exactly who I want because I grew up in a society that was giving me competing views on what to believe. There is much agreement that the social construction of beauty is dangerous for women's health and happiness, why, then, is politics not subjected to the same criticisms of a socially constructed institution?

So the point I end up at is one where there cannot possibly be any right or wrong, even though I desperately want to believe civil rights, freedoms, and liberties are right. And if that's the truth then nothing I think really matters much anyway. That's an incredibly disheartening place to be.

In many ways I crave being right, yet at the same time we reside in this culture that, at least at face value, places the utmost importance on respecting all opinions and recognizing all positions as valid. I cannot be right and recognize others' rightness, so I must be wrong?

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