National Defense Education Act | Wikipedia audio article


The National Defense Education Act (NDEA)
was signed into law on September 2, 1958, providing funding to United States education
institutions at all levels.NDEA was among many science initiatives implemented by President
Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958 to increase the technological sophistication and power of
the United States alongside, for instance, DARPA and NASA. It followed a growing national sense that
U.S. scientists were falling behind scientists in the Soviet Union. The early Soviet success in the Space Race
catalyzed a national sense of unease with Soviet technological advances, especially
after the Soviet Union launched the first-ever satellite, Sputnik, the previous year.The
act authorized funding for four years, increasing funding per year: for example, funding increased
on eight program titles from $183 million in 1959 to $222 million in 1960. In total, over a billion dollars was directed
towards improving American science curricula. However, in the aftermath of McCarthyism,
a mandate was inserted in the act that all beneficiaries must complete an affidavit disclaiming
belief in the overthrow of the U.S. government. This requisite loyalty statement stirred concern
and protest from the American Association of University Professors and over 153 institutions.==Cause and purpose==
The NDEA was influenced by the Soviet launch of the satellite Sputnik on October 4, 1957. U.S. citizens feared that education in the
USSR was superior to that in the United States, and Congress reacted by adding the act to
bring U.S. schools up to speed.The year 1957 also coincided with an acute shortage of mathematicians
in the United States. The electronic computer created a demand for
mathematicians as programmers and it also shortened the lead time between the development
of a new mathematical theory and its practical application, thereby making their work more
valuable. The United States could no longer rely on
European refugees for all of its mathematicians, though they remained an important source,
so it had to drastically increase the domestic supply. At the time, “mathematics” was interpreted
as pure mathematics rather than applied mathematics. The problem in the 1950s and 1960s was that
industry, including defense, was absorbing the mathematicians who should have been at
high schools and universities training the next generation. At the university level, even more recently,
there have been years when it was difficult to hire applied mathematicians and computer
scientists because of the rate that industry was absorbing them. Additionally, more high school graduates were
beginning to attend college. In 1940 about one-half million Americans attended
college, which was about 15 percent of their age group. By 1960, however, college enrollments had
expanded to 3.6 million. By 1970, 7.5 million students were attending
colleges in the United States, or 40 percent of college-age youths.The act, therefore,
was designed to fulfill two purposes. First, it was designed to provide the country
with specific defense oriented personnel. This included providing federal help to foreign
language scholars, area studies centers, and engineering students. Second it provided financial assistance—primarily
through the National Defense Student Loan program—for thousands of students who would
be part of the growing numbers enrolling at colleges and universities in the 1960s.==Breakdown by title=====Title I===
Title I of the NDEA serves as an introduction to the content and purposes of the Act.===Title II===
Title II authorizes the provision of student loans and provides terms by which they may
be awarded. Initially, Title II provided scholarships
(also known as grants) rather than loans. However, some members of Congress expressed
worry about the message sent by giving students a “free ride.” The House version of the bill eliminated scholarship
money, while the Senate reduced the amount of scholarship money. By the time the bill was passed into law,
student aid was exclusively loan-based.===
Title III===Title III provides additional financial assistance
for the purposes of strengthening science, math, and foreign language programs. Latin and Greek programs are not funded under
this title, on the grounds that they are not modern foreign languages, and thus do not
support defense needs.===Title IV===
Title IV provides funding for graduate fellowships in order to increase the number of graduate-level
professionals and university professors. Priority was given to students who stated
an interest in becoming a professor. However, certain fields (such as folklore)
were specifically exempted from these fellowships. Title IV was also one of the only two federal
programs (along with Title VI of the NDEA) in existence at the time that gave any funding
to the humanities.===Title V===
Title V includes provisions for the training of guidance counselors and the implementation
of testing programs to identify gifted students. This laid the groundwork for Academically
Gifted (AG) and Gifted & Talented (GT) programs and began the trend of using standardized
testing in schools to measure competency.===Title VI===
Title VI provides funding for language and area studies programs. “Area studies” includes such subjects as African
American studies and Latin American studies.===Title VII===
Title VII provided funding for research in the more effective use of technology for educational
purposes.===Title VIII===
Title VIII provided funding for vocational training in order to better prepare citizens
for the workforce.===Title IX===
Title IX established the Science Information Institute and Science Information Council
in order to disseminate scientific information and assist the government in matters of a
highly technical nature.===Title X===
Title X contains miscellaneous provisions regarding legal and pragmatic details of the
Act.==Controversy==
The NDEA includes Title X, Section 1001 (f), a mandate that all beneficiaries of the act
complete an affidavit disclaiming belief in the overthrow of the U.S. government. Some in higher education opposed the disclaimer
affidavit, as it came to be called, because they said it attempted to control beliefs
and as such violated academic freedom. Initially, a small number of institutions
(Barnard, Yale, and Princeton) refused to accept funding under the student loan program
established by the act because of the affidavit requirement. By 1962, when the disclaimer affidavit was
repealed, the number of schools protesting the clause was 153.After four years of seemingly
ineffective protest, the disclaimer requirement was repealed in the Fall of 1962 by President
John F. Kennedy who was spurred by an incident extraneous to universities’ protests. In particular, following the public disclosure
of the case of a National Science Foundation Fellowship recipient who had run into trouble
with the House Un-American Activities Committee, and had been convicted of contempt of Congress. Kennedy interpreted this case proved the affidavit
clause to be ineffective, and, in spite of—rather than because of—protest prior to 1961, the
disclaimer requirement was excised.==Footnotes

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