Family Composition, Race, and Teachers’ Perceptions of Parent-Teacher Alliance by Emma Romell (2024)

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Social Problems


Both family composition and teachers’ perceptions of parents are important for student success. However, we know little about whether teachers’ perceptions of parents vary by family composition. Using data from the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study, I show that teachers perceive single mothers with multipartner fertility and, to a lesser extent, repartnered mothers with multipartner fertility as less aligned with their school’s goals than parents who have nuclear families. Socioeconomic status, children’s behavior, and parents’ involvement do not explain this association. I also show that white teachers’ perceptions—of both white and black parents—drive this relationship. Further, I show that white teachers perceive black parents as less aligned with their school’s goals than white parents with the same family type. By focusing on mesolevel interactions between the family and school settings, this study expands research on the implications of family composition for students’ and parents’ experiences at school.