Letters to the Editor

Diverse school board stimulates education | Federal Way Letters to the Editor

Diversity on the school board

In his most recent essay, guest columnist Bill Pirkle writes: “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’m happy to respond.

What is diversity? Although Mr. Pirkle confines himself to counting race and gender, diversity may simply refer to variation, or to tolerance for people with different backgrounds.

As a school board observer, I would argue that our new members demonstrate both traits. They represent a wider spectrum of our community, and show a greater willingness to accept all our our students.

Mr. Pirkle is correct when he writes that the role of the school board is to adopt policies that improve learning. So, the question becomes: How can a school board consisting of members with a variety of backgrounds, and showing tolerance for all, make better policy decisions?

I can see this link in three ways. First, decisions that are informed by varied perspectives are better decisions. By drawing on a range of experience and skills, board members bring more expertise to their deliberations.

Second, a diverse committee is better able to avoid the trap of “group think.” Group think occurs when people rationalize conformity and agree without critical thinking. A diverse school board is less likely to follow the easy path of making unexamined decisions.

And third, a diverse school board is more likely to consider the impact of its policies on all members of our school community. I am proud that in our school district, “all means all” and we act for the best interests of all students.

I’m sure other members of our community will have well-reasoned responses to Mr. Pirkle’s challenge. I’m glad to add my voice to theirs.

Mark Laurel,


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