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S. 3187, National Defense Education Act, bill version, February 5, 1958

Senator Lister Hill of Alabama chaired the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, which was responsible for education legislation. He and Representative Carl A. Elliott, also of Alabama, authored the National Defense Education Act and were the driving forces behind its passage. Under this act, Congress greatly increased federal influence on public education.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

S. 3187, National Defense Education Act, bill version, February 5, 1958

The National Defense Education Act

The Soviet Union’s successful 1957 launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, spurred Congress to pass the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958. Perceiving an urgent need to train Americans in science, technology, languages, and other essential skills for Cold War defense, Congress committed the federal government to its most active role in education since the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. The NDEA fostered the development of new school curricula and supported student loans.