Default Lines column, January 2011 edition of eSchool News—On the morning of Oct. 5, 1957, readers of the New York Times woke up to a jarring three-line headline that spanned the width of the newspaper’s front page in all-capital letters: “SOVIET FIRES EARTH SATELLITE INTO SPACE; IT IS CIRCLING THE GLOBE AT 18,000 M.P.H.; SPHERE TRACKED IN 4 CROSSINGS OVER U.S.”
And so began the panicked reaction to the Soviet satellite Sputnik, which shocked U.S. policy makers into realizing they no longer led the world in technological development. Sputnik’s launch spurred passage of the National Defense Education Act, a four-year program that poured billions of dollars into education funding. In 1953, the federal government spent $153 million on education funding; by 1960, this amount had grown nearly sixfold.
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