The Impact of Sputnik and the Ndea on American Education

In: Historical Events

Submitted By sillywife
Words 2361
Pages 10
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite into space, putting a big question mark to the framework of American education. Sputnik incited fear in the American leaders as well as the majority of the population, but not only because of the imagined implications of being spied on or being crushed if the satellite should fall from space. The launch of Sputnik led the United States to question its position of “technological superiority to Soviet Russia, and left government officials, politicians, scientists, and educators scrambling to find way to close the gap” (Concannon & Barrow, 2011, pg. 369).
The years that followed World War II had produced substantial changes in American education. Before the war, many saw education as an “engine of commercial development” (Rury, 2009, pg. 179). However, after World War II schools and schooling “increasingly were acknowledged as a primary factor in national economic growth” (Rury, 2009, pg. 179). At the end of the war, the G.I. Bill, which helped many returning servicemen go to college, and the baby boom, which began in the late 1940s, meant more Americans attended schools than in any other time period. “Enrollments climbed at all levels of the educational system… everyone was interested in going to school” (Rury, 2009, pg. 179). In addition to the increases in school enrollment and population, other significant social trends began in the 20 years following the end of the war. In 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. The suit, which asked the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation, concluded with the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, which affirmed that the segregation of schools was fundamentally unequal; this decision led directly to the…...

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