Post-Sputnik Education

September 3, 1982

Report Outline
Stock-Taking after 25 Years
Education Trends since 1957
Debate Over Responsibility
Special Focus

Stock-Taking after 25 Years

Alarm Once Again Over Inadequacies

The Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik 25 years ago, on Oct. 4, 1957, sent the American education establishment into a tailspin. At least since the early 1940s the trend in education had been toward the social development of children rather than an emphasis on hard academic subject matter. At the same time, however, there had been a growing concern about whether math and science education was adequate and whether enough students were prepared and interested in seeking careers that would help advance American technology.

Russia's dramatic exploit in space highlighted the costs of neglecting rigorous academic training, particularly in math and science, and galvanized this nation to action. President Eisenhower stressed the importance of education to national security, and American leaders rushed to bolster the nation's science, math and foreign language instruction, funding university research and development projects, providing scholarships and otherwise encouraging young people to enter technological careers. This was done largely through the National Defense Education Act of 1958, which was in many ways the forerunner of general federal aid to education.

Twenty-five years later educators, scientists, industrialists and other concerned citizens are again declaring that American children are not being adequately educated, which they see as posing a threat to economic growth and national security. Last spring President Reagan told a meeting sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences that problems in math and science teaching are “serious enough to compromise the nation's future ability to develop and advance our traditional industrial base to compete in international marketplaces.“ Dr. Harry Lustig, dean of science at City College of New York, said, “I see us becoming industrially a second-rate power.“

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Issues
Aug. 12, 2022  Parents' Rights
Apr. 01, 2022  Online Learning
Jan. 21, 2022  Teaching About Racism
Oct. 01, 2021  COVID-19 and Children
Jun. 11, 2021  Special Education
Jun. 21, 2019  Title IX and Campus Sexual Assault
May 17, 2019  School Safety
Feb. 02, 2018  Bullying and Cyberbullying
Feb. 03, 2017  Civic Education
Sep. 05, 2014  Race and Education
Jun. 13, 2014  Dropout Rate
May 09, 2014  School Discipline
Mar. 07, 2014  Home Schooling
Dec. 02, 2011  Digital Education
Nov. 15, 2011  Expanding Higher Education
Dec. 10, 2010  Preventing Bullying Updated
Apr. 16, 2010  Revising No Child Left Behind
Mar. 26, 2010  Teen Pregnancy
Sep. 04, 2009  Financial Literacy
Jun. 05, 2009  Student Rights
Feb. 22, 2008  Reading Crisis?
Jul. 13, 2007  Students Under Stress
Apr. 27, 2007  Fixing Urban Schools Updated
Nov. 10, 2006  Video Games Updated
Mar. 03, 2006  AP and IB Programs
Oct. 07, 2005  Academic Freedom
Aug. 26, 2005  Evaluating Head Start
May 27, 2005  No Child Left Behind
Jan. 17, 2003  Home Schooling Debate
Sep. 06, 2002  Teaching Math and Science
Jun. 07, 2002  Grade Inflation
Dec. 07, 2001  Distance Learning
Apr. 20, 2001  Testing in Schools
May 14, 1999  National Education Standards
Apr. 10, 1998  Liberal Arts Education
Jul. 26, 1996  Attack on Public Schools
May 17, 1996  Year-Round Schools
Oct. 20, 1995  Networking the Classroom
Sep. 22, 1995  High School Sports
Jan. 20, 1995  Parents and Schools
Sep. 09, 1994  Home Schooling
Mar. 25, 1994  Private Management of Public Schools
Mar. 11, 1994  Education Standards
Apr. 09, 1993  Head Start
Nov. 30, 1990  Conflict Over Multicultural Education
Feb. 05, 1988  Preschool: Too Much Too Soon?
Oct. 23, 1987  Education Reform
Aug. 24, 1984  Status of the Schools
Sep. 10, 1982  Schoolbook Controversies
Sep. 03, 1982  Post-Sputnik Education
Aug. 18, 1978  Competency Tests
Jan. 26, 1972  Public School Financing
Nov. 03, 1971  Education for Jobs
Apr. 15, 1970  Reform of Public Schools
Aug. 27, 1969  Discipline in Public Schools
Dec. 27, 1968  Community Control of Public Schools
Jun. 14, 1965  Summer School Innovations
Oct. 28, 1964  Education of Slum Children
Jun. 05, 1963  Year-Round School
Mar. 28, 1962  Mentally Retarded Children
Dec. 17, 1958  Educational Testing
Sep. 25, 1957  Liberal Education
Jul. 11, 1956  Educational Exchange
Feb. 02, 1955  Federal Aid for School Construction
Mar. 07, 1951  Education in an Extended Emergency
Nov. 20, 1945  Postwar Public Education
Nov. 07, 1941  Standards of Education
Science and Mathematics Education
Space Sciences and Exploration