Education Letter to the Editor

Post-Sputnik Law’s Impact Not Seen in Moon Landing

November 06, 2007 1 min read

To the Editor:

Thanks for your Sept. 26, 2007, article “Lessons Drawn From Sputnik 50 Years Later.” Perhaps there’s an additional lesson not mentioned in the piece.

Sputnik was launched by the Soviets on Oct. 4, 1957. The first human landing on the moon was accomplished by Americans 12 years later, on July 20, 1969. The frantic American attempt to beef up math and science in public schools through the National Defense Education Act of 1958 played absolutely no role in that amazing feat, unless those 1958 kindergartners somehow joined the space-race task force as middle schoolers.

What’s the lesson? America had then and has today the math and science know-how to lead the world. We can do anything that we’re willing to put the determination and the financial resources toward. And we can do it without forcing every child to master algebra.

Lawrence B. Schlack


Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency

Kalamazoo, Mich.

A version of this article appeared in the November 07, 2007 edition of Education Week as Post-Sputnik Law’s Impact Not Seen in Moon Landing