Date of Award

12-1-1979

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

School

School of Education

Degree Name

Ed.D.

Abstract

The Purpose of the Study and Research Questions The purpose of this study was to examine the understandings, attitudes, and legislative actions of the members of the 1979 Georgia legislature toward Equal educational Opportunity as defined by Garms, Guthrie, and Pierce. Specifically, this study answered the following research questions.

1. Usjng the Easton political system5 model as a vehicle for analysis, what is the political, educational, and social climate which currently prevails in Geo:"gia, a~1d will influence the formal actions and attitudes of the Georgia legislators toward Equal Educational Opportunity?

2. What are the attitudes and understandin&s of the members of the Georgia legislature toward Equal Educational Opportunity as defined by Garms, Guthrie, and Pi~Tce in the concepts of Equal Access To Education, Equal Educational Treatment, and Equal Educational Outcomes?

3. Which concept of the term Equal Educational Opportunity as defined by Garms, Guthrie, and Pierce is reflected in Ehe attitudes and understandings of the majority of the current Georgia legislators?

4. What concept of Equal Educational Opportunity as defined by Garms, Guthrie, and Pierce is evidenced in the educational bills that were acted on by the legiSlature?

5. What are the implications of the attitudes and actions of the Georgia legislators toward Equal Educational Opportunity for current and future educational experien~es in Georgia?

Scope and Methodology of the Study

This study was experimental in nature, and attempted to involve all 241 members of the Georgia General Assembly. Questionnaires were sent to each legislator on two occasions, and this effort produced 133 responses. These responses comprised the data base for the attitudinal survey and statistical calculations that were used for the second and third research questions. To give a descriptive analysis of the attitudes and understandings of the legislators and to provide a basis for statistical comparison and analysis, null hypotheses were formulated and tested on the v&riablc groups: race, party affiliation, educational level, and location of legislator for each of the three connotations of Equal Educational Opportunity. Those differences ia attitudes and understandings that were significant at the .05 level of probability were noted.

Observations of the legislative process, interviews, reviewing newspaper reports, and examining legislative documents were conducted to answer the first and fourth research questions. Data from all parts of the study were synthesized to arrive at the answer for the fifty research questions.

Summary and Conclusions of the Study

Easton conceptualized a systems, input-output, approach to political action, in which competing forces place inputs, in the forms of demands, into the political system, and must acquire supports to receive the desjred outputs from the system in the forms of decisions and allocations. From observations of the legislative process, it could be inferred that there were several forces that impacted legislative actions and attitudes toward Equal Educational Opportunity, with the influence of the teacher organization and their demands for pay increases being the most important of these.

The attitudes and understandings of the legislators toward the three concepts of educational equity were analyzed using the Analysis of Variance Statistical Method to note t~ose differences that were significant at the .05 level. Black and white legislators differed at a statistically significant level toward each concept of Equal Educational Opportunity. Educators from urban and rural locations, and legislators with different levels of education, differed on some concepts of educational equity at a statistically significant level. There was not a statistically significant difference in the attitudes toward eithe~ of the three concepts of educational equity of Republicans and Democrats.

Equal Educational Treatment was the concept of Equal Educational Opportunity that was reflected in the attitudes and understandings of the majority of Georgia legislators. Equal Educational Outcomes was the next most popular concept, and Equal Access to Education was the least popular concept as reflected in the responses to the attitudinal questionnaire.

An examination of the legislative actions indicates that Equal Access to Education and Equal Educational lreatment are the concepts that are most evident in the legislation that was dealt with in the past session.

Implications of the Study 1. Equal Educational Outcomes is an accepted concept, and there may be more emphasis placed on it in the future in Georgia.

2. This study has found that black legislators, legislators from urban districts, and legislators with postgraduate education demonstrated attitudes that reflect the reformist position on Equal Educational Opportunity more than other legislators, and, thus, educational reformers possibly may expect support from persons from these variable groups, but must work tn establish and promote concepts of the changing nature of educational equity among other legislators.

3. The findings of this study appear to portend good news for education in the state of Georgia, as this year's legislature significantly increased its financial commitment to education.

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