An American Life
Chapter 6. Integration, 1958 to 1970
INTEGRATION, 1958 TO 1970
“The year 1957–1958 marks the end of one era and the beginning of another—for Educational Testing Service, for testing in general, and for education as a whole,” Chauncey wrote in his Annual Report to the Board of Trustees, 1957–1958.1 Recent events, foreign and domestic, were reshaping the world. Just off stage was the October 1957 launch of Sputnik. A satellite the size of a serving tray signaled the possibility of Soviet technological superiority (an uncomfortable possibility) and death from the skies (a terrifying truth). Because another metal object, the atomic bomb Little Boy, had been dropped on Hiroshima, the symbolic value of Sputnik to the United States could not be overestimated. A semiosis of associations—communism and democracy, threat and perseverance, sin and retribution—found their home in the National Defense Education Act of 1958 and the challenges presented by the Soviet educational system. Chauncey focused his annual report on both.
“Congress,” he wrote, “for the first time passed a bill aimed at strengthening all levels of education in a variety of ways.”2 In the conversational and allusive style in which he wrote each of his annual reports, Chauncey applauded the National Defense Education Act of 1958. Signed into law on September 2, federal policy was intended “to strengthen the national defense and to encourage and assist in the expansion and improvement of educational programs to meet critical national needs.” To stimulate postsecondary ← 231 | 232...
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