This is a more expansive version of the interview seen here.
In the interview he makes reference to conservative educator, Fred M. Hechinger of the New York Times, to John Goodlad’s book in 1984, A Place Called Schools, to Charles Silberman’s 1971 book, Crisis in the Classroom. Says there was never a time when students graduated from school as good writers, good readers . . . that never happened. One of his books is How Children Learn: Classics in Child Development, John Holt, 1995. His dates are 1923 to 1985. He also alludes to Willard E. Goslin, Superintendent of Pasadena School District regarding his statement in 1947 that the schools are failing us. Went back to basics when sputnik went up. Says that in the early 60s students still did’t know any math. National Defense Education Act was passed in the early 1960s mandating school math study group. Wikipedia explains that NDEA
was among many science initiatives implemented by PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower in 1958 to increase the technological sophistication and power of the United States alongside, for instance, DARPA and NASA.
National Science Foundation got into the act. But why would the government launch such an initiative? Wikipedia explains that it was due to a shortage mathematicians in the U.S. in 1957, a fine year:
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.
But competing with the Soviet Union? Was America that desperate back then? It was a pivot back to the Soviet Union. American government wanted a socialist government.
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.
And how much did these science initiatives cost, or does it matter?
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.
But it admitted defeat, or at least Wikipedia explains it defeat in terms of communist witch hunts.
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.
What’s interesting is that in that year, a full 12 years after World War II, American government required a loyalty oath. Okay, so they wanted promises. But it really is anti-independence.
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.
He also mentions the Juila Weber 1946 book, Country School Diary.