Opinion

No clear link between Federal Way School Board diversity and better education

The concept of diversity was born when set-aside contracts and employment quotas for minorities came under legal attack.

The problem for the Civil Rights Movement was, how do we continue to discriminate against white males in this new legal environment based on reverse discrimination? The solution to the problem was the idea of “diversity.”

There are colleges that routinely turn down a white person for admission whose grades and test scores were higher than a minority who was admitted so as to have a diverse campus. Although that may sound nice despite the fact that a harder working student was discriminated against, it leaves unanswered a fundamental question: How does a diverse campus improve academic learning? Seems to me that the professor’s delivery would be color blind.

The last incarnation of the Federal Way School Board had four white men and one white woman. There were three Mormons, a majority. Yet little was accomplished. This school board lineup has two white women, one black woman, one white male and one black male. That seems pretty diverse, and if school board diversity is the answer to our problems, I would expect to see an improvement in standardized test scores. Standardized scores like the WASL are important since the teachers tend to give good grades to make everybody happy. It’s called grade inflation and is the teachers union’s answer to better education.

I would pose a derivative of this question to the school board. How does a diverse school board improve WASL scores? Let’s look at it logically, a thing that is rare these days where logic takes a backseat to emotion. The school board implements policies that improve learning. How does a diverse school board come up with better policies than a non-diverse school board? Hopefully, a diverse school board would be color blind.

We can assume that the most diverse school board possible would not have any white men of Anglo heritage. If there was such a person, then the school board could be made more diverse by replacing him, since diversity really means non-white.

Yet the connection between diversity and good education policy remains obscure. If there was massive discrimination in schools, one could assume that their policies would end it. Yet the minority kids go to the same school, use the same books and have the same teachers as the other kids. It’s the law.

If you think that there is discrimination in schools, the solution is not to make the school board more diverse. The solution is to go into federal court and file a discrimination suit for civil rights violations. That this is not being done means there is no evidence to support that assertion.

Diversity may even be harmful. Everybody brings to the school board their values and their agenda. As you increase diversity, you increase the complexity of the negotiations as we experience what we call agenda conflict stemming from value system conflict. We see this daily in American politics as the government is now deadlocked between liberals vs. conservatives, rich vs. poor, old vs. young, minorities vs. non-minorities, the legal American vs. the illegal Americans. Every law passed becomes a compromise of interests, making the law virtually useless at solving the problem that gave it birth. Yet we can claim a diverse government.

The fact is that we can no longer govern ourselves.

Hopefully this will not happen at school board meetings, but it is certainly possible.

We should remember that the goal here is better education for our children and not a diverse school board. If there is a link between a diverse school board and better education, someone should be able to express that link in words. I challenge anyone in Federal Way to write an article for The Mirror that explains this link. The gauntlet is tossed.

I know that I will be called a racist by even posing this question. I know this because racist labeling is the final refuge of those who can not defend their position with a logical argument.

Federal Way resident Bill Pirkle can be reached at bpirkle@zipcon.net.

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