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Interests and Representation: Ethnic Advocacy on California School Boards


by Luis Ricardo Fraga & Roy Elis — 2009

Background/Context: Researchers have found that school districts with greater representation of Latinos and African Americans on their school boards tend to also have higher percentages of Latino and African American administrators and teachers. This increased presence of coethnics in the educational bureaucracy was then found to predict more favorable educational outcomes for these students.

Purpose: We determine if these relationships hold for Latinos in California, which has the largest Latino population in the United States and where Latino students make up just under half of all students enrolled in public schools.

Research Design: Using an original data set of all California school districts in the 2004–2005 school year, we tested these relationships for Latinos in California using multiple regression.

Conclusion: Contrary to previous research, we found that Latino representation on California school boards was not greater in systems of single-member district election. We did, however, find that the greater presence of Latinos on school boards did increase the likelihood that Latinos would be hired as administrators, but only in Latino-majority districts. After appropriate controls, districts with more Latino administrators also tended to have more Latino teachers. Last, and again contrary to previous research, we found no systematic impact of having more Latino teachers and administrators on enhancing student outcomes for either all Latino students or for English language learners.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 3, 2009, p. 659-682
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15346, Date Accessed: 10/17/2017 11:44:15 PM

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About the Author
  • Luis Fraga
    University of Washington
    E-mail Author
    LUIS RICARDO FRAGA is associate vice provost for faculty advancement, director of the Diversity Research Institute, Russell F. Stark University Professor, and professor of political science at the University of Washington. He specializes in urban politics, politics of race and ethnicity, educational politics, and voting rights policy. He is coauthor of Multiethnic Moments: The Politics of Urban Education Reform (Temple, 2006) and was a member of the special taskforce of the American Political Science Association that wrote Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Undermine Citizen Participation and What We Can Do About It (Brookings 2005). He is also coeditor of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Greenwood, 1992). He has also published in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Perspectives in Politics, Dubois Review, The Journal of Politics, Urban Affairs Quarterly, Western Political Quarterly, Women, Politics and Policy, and the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. He has served as secretary of the American Political Science Association and is a former president of the Western Political Science Association. He is one of the co–principal investigators of the Latino National Survey (LNS), the first-ever state stratified survey of Latinos in the United States.
  • Roy Elis
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    ROY ELIS is a doctoral candidate in political science at Stanford University. His research interests include the politics of public schooling, comparative politics, and political economy. He presented on intradistrict resource inequality within U.S. public school districts at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. He is currently researching the political foundations of public schooling through a comparative study of the United States and Argentina.
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