Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration


Public Administration

Major Advisor

Stephanie L. Witt, Ph.D.


Gregory Hill, Ph.D.


Thaddieus W. Conner, Ph.D.


Using a cross-comparative, qualitative case study approach, my research seeks to determine whether the presence of American Indian teachers (passive representation) positively influences educational access and performance of American Indian students in two rural Idaho public school districts located within tribal reservations. One district has representation of American Indian teachers and the other does not. Representation of American Indian teachers is a form of passive representation which the theory of representative bureaucracy suggests should lead to active representation (implementation of culturally relevant curriculum and teaching practices). My research analyzes de-identified student- and district-level data on access and performance as well as interviews conducted with teachers, administrators and tribal education directors in both school districts. While the data elements I evaluate under access and performance are different than the theoretical model used in prior research, they were selected to provide a larger dataset to determine the impacts of American Indian teacher representation on American Indian student access and performance based on my case study model. The interviews were intended to assess perceptions of performance as well as capture whether passive representation lead to active representation. Both the statistical data analyzed and qualitative data captured from interviews appears to support that passive representation may lead to active representation. However, my research also revealed that passive representation is significantly more complicated for American Indians than for African American and Hispanics as a result of the federal government’s use of education as a tool for cultural destruction. The evidence of these impacts can be seen in American Indian student attendance. Further, my research revealed that tribes assuming a more direct role in administrative decisions in public schools serving American Indian students may act as a form of active representation.