Essay On National Defense Education Act

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National Defense Education Act (NDEA), U.S. federal legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 2, 1958, that provided funding to improve American schools and to promote postsecondary education. The main goal of the legislation was to enable the country’s educational system to meet the demands posed by national security needs. Of particular concern was bolstering the United States’ ability to compete with the Soviet Union in the areas of science and technology.

On October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union shocked the people of the United States by successfully launching the first Earth orbiting satellite, Sputnik. America's first satellite exploded seconds after liftoff.
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The criticism of American education, especially its public schools, increased immensely with the launching of Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, by the Soviet Union in October 1957. Eisenhower, in his Message to Congress on January 27, 1958, called for matching educational programs with national defense needs and recommended the federal government play an important part in this activity. The NDEA was the result of the enlarged federal role in education (britannica).

On the day Sputnik first orbited the earth, the chief clerk of the Senate’s Education and Labor Committee, Stewart McClure, sent a memo to his chairman, Alabama Democrat Lister Hill, reminding him that during the last three Congresses the Senate had passed legislation for federal funding of education, but that all of those bills had died in the House. Perhaps if they called the education bill a defense bill they might get it enacted. Senator Hill, a former Democratic whip and a savvy legislative tactician, seized upon on the idea, which led to the National Defense Education Act (Senate.gov).

The Act

The purpose of the NDEA was to improve and strengthen all levels of the American school system and to encourage students to continue their education beyond high school. Specific provisions included scholarships
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