Racial Diversity, Representative Bureaucracy, and Equity in Multiracial School Districts


  • *Direct correspondence to Rene R. Rocha, Department of Political Science, 341 Shaffer Hall, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 〈rene-rocha@uiowa.edu〉. Data and coding information used in this analysis are available for replication purposes from Rene R. Rocha. The authors thank Kenneth J. Meier and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


Objective. This study examines the conditions under which minorities will face policy inequity within the educational system. It turns to the theory of representative bureaucracy as one possible explanation, and extends the literature by considering whether African-American students benefit from the presence of Latinos on teaching faculties and vice versa. This study also tests competing theories of how racial context influences minority educational policy outcomes.

Methods. This study combines original survey data with data gathered by the U.S. Census to predict levels of academic grouping in U.S. school districts as reported by the Office of Civil Rights.

Results. Minority teachers lower levels of discrimination among all minority students, not just co-ethnics. Moreover, minority teachers do so consistently and with a substantive impact that occasionally rivals that of co-ethnic teachers. The findings also suggest that greater levels of racial/ethnic diversity within a district are associated with lower levels of discrimination.

Conclusion. Theories of race relations must move beyond black-Anglo or Latino-Anglo relations to consider how multiple racial/ethnic groups interact, and how such interactions affect the lives of minority groups differently.