National Defense Education Act of 1958

The National Defense Education Act of 1958  (P.L. 85-864; 72 Stat. 1580) became law on September 2, 1958.  This federal policy largely targeted collegiate education, authorizing both National Defence Fellowships and loans for students.

The National Defence Education Act (NDEA) also provided funds to state educational agencies for the purposes of improving the teaching of science, mathematics, and “modern foreign languages” (e.g., Russian, not Latin).  Thus, the NDEA was the first major federal foray into K-12 curricula since the Smith-Hughes Vocational Education Act of 1917.

At the same time, the NDEA’s Section 2 forbade “Federal Control of Education”:

Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution or school system.

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