Minority role models seem to be at the heart of some positive outcomes for students.

Image: Daquella manera/flickr

Problem: Though it has been declining, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate of any developed country—34.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, as of 2010. And teen mothers tend to face educational challenges—less than one-third finish high school and less than 2 percent graduate from college. A new study published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory looks at schools in Georgia, and how the presence of minority and female teachers could affect teen pregnancy rates.

The study builds on previous research that has shown that having minority representation can improve outcomes for an organization or community—for example, having more female supervisors for a child support enforcement operation increases the child support payments received by mothers. Another example can be found in the Indian state of West Bengal, which mandated that at least a certain number of government positions be filled by women. A study in that region later found more support for educational equality for girls than in villages without that quota.

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