Title page for ETD etd-03262007-125259

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Campbell, Sarah Talton
Author's Email Address scmpbll@vt.edu
URN etd-03262007-125259
Title Elderly Voter Attitudes toward Public Education Funding in a Rural County: A Qualitative Study
Degree PhD
Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Burge, Penny L. Committee Chair
Driscoll, Lisa G. Committee Member
Earthman, Glen I. Committee Member
Worner, Wayne Dempsey Committee Member
  • elderly
  • voter
  • attitudes
  • education funding
  • rural
  • qualitative study
Date of Defense 2007-03-14
Availability unrestricted

The demography of the United States is in the midst of an unprecedented transition that will result in persons age 65 and over outnumbering children by the year 2030 (MacManus, 1995). This demographic shift has the potential to give elderly voters significant influence over public education funding (Poterba, 1997). The purpose of this study was to describe the phenomenon of elderly voter attitudes toward public education funding in a rural county. By engaging elderly voters in dialogue that captured the essence of their lived experiences in school and in the community, valuable information related to how those experiences had nurtured community loyalty or fostered rational self-interest was obtained.

A phenomenological approach rooted in the tenets of narrative analysis was used as the framework for the research design in this study. The setting was a rural county in a mid-Atlantic state. Ten volunteers were solicited from among typical elderly voters in the county. Data were collected from personal interviews, field notes, interview notes and reflexive notes. Constant-comparative analysis was conducted in accordance with a three-iteration strategy to develop within and across-case analyses. Code-mapping was used to develop a visible audit trail.

Personal narratives based on information obtained from the four data sources were written for each participant. The themes that resulted from an analysis of each narrative across all cases were applied to the economic theories of community loyalty and rational self-interest. The application of the emergent themes relative to each theory led to the conclusion that the lived experiences of the ten participants in school and in the community had impacted their attitudes toward public education funding. The identification of these experiences has implications for local education policy makers as they engage in strategic planning initiatives.

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