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The Whiter the Better? Racial Composition and Access to School Resources for Black Students


  • Timothy Diette



Rigorous courses are an important resource, distributed within schools, that merit attention as a central determinant of student achievement and future outcomes (Cook and Evans, J Labor Econ. 18(4):729–754, 2000 ; Rose and Betts, Rev Econ Stat. 86(2):497–513, 2004 ). Yet, black students are less likely to be enrolled in advanced courses in general (ex. Darity et al. 2001 ; Klopfenstein, Contemp Econ Pol. 23(3):416–28, 2005 ) and specifically Algebra 1 in middle school (Riley 1997 ). Debate exists around the potential benefits or drawbacks for black students attending highly integrated schools relative to highly segregated schools. This study examines which school characteristics are associated with large disparities in black student enrollment in Algebra 1 relative to white student enrollment in Algebra 1 in the same middle schools in North Carolina. Of particular interest is the relationship between access and the percentage of white students in a school. The study finds that: (1) black students are underrepresented in Algebra 1 in essentially all schools in North Carolina; (2) the largest disparities occur in schools that are highly integrated while the disparities are reduced in schools that are either large majority white or large majority non-white; (3) schools with a larger share of white teachers are related to larger disparities between black and white students; (4) the marginal effects of racial composition on the relative disparity in enrollment are significantly larger for black females than black males. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Diette, 2012. "The Whiter the Better? Racial Composition and Access to School Resources for Black Students," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 321-334, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:blkpoe:v:39:y:2012:i:3:p:321-334
    DOI: 10.1007/s12114-011-9101-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 34-63, February.
    2. Eric A. Hanushek, 2003. "The Failure of Input-Based Schooling Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 64-98, February.
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