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OUR OPINION: By naming Carpenter, board chose well

We humans are complex animals, subject 24/7 to conflicting motivations and emotions. Spite, arrogance, goodwill, duty, anger, humor -- and that's just what flits through your mind before breakfast.

Our Opinion

We humans are complex animals, subject 24/7 to conflicting motivations and emotions. Spite, arrogance, goodwill, duty, anger, humor -- and that's just what flits through your mind before breakfast.

So, when the Grand Forks School Board chose Doug Carpenter to fill a vacant seat, it's safe to say the board members paid attention to "the better angels of their nature."

After all, if the board had been governed by spite, it would have rejected Carpenter. The former Grand Forks City Council president scolded the school board not long ago, and the board wouldn't have been the first "club" to close its doors on a critic.

Or, the board could have heeded its normal insecurities and fears, again by rejecting Carpenter. We're comfortable with each other, and we like our way of doing business, the members could have said. Do we really want to welcome a person who's likely to shake things up?

But to the board's credit, it responded to a more productive set of emotions by recognizing Carpenter's value. Yes, he has been critical; but he's an accountant, a bank executive and former council president, so his criticisms are well-informed and carry weight.

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Appointing Carpenter also shows that the board has not only listened but also responded to critics. That's a great step in rebuilding the board's credibility around town.

Plus, as board member Cynthia Shabb pointed out, Carpenter has been respectful in his criticisms. That's vital, because it will help the board avoid defensiveness, a common roadblock to reform.

All things considered, the board made a smart decision, one that's likely to mean good things for the Grand Forks School District in months to come. Carpenter deserves congratulations, and the board members deserve the city's thanks.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Opinion by Thomas Dennis
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