Sputnik and Segregation:
Should the Gifted Be Educated Separately?
FIRST there was Little Rock; then came Sputnik. First there was excitement about equal schooling for all children irrespective of race, and then about the need for special schooling for the gifted child. One might think that the two are totally unrelated, that there exists no connection between desegregation and the education of the gifted. Persistent headlines on both issues seem just pure chance, or one of the vagaries of history.
Yet with Sputnik in the sky, the Russian advances in science and technology-long known to all experts-suddenly aroused vast anxiety among wide circles of the popula- tion. There was a strong emotional reaction to the realization that we are not always the biggest and the best, that we were not, in fact, the first to send a dog into orbit. And suddenly the education of the gifted became everybody’s concern. We must have more and better scientists, and our educational system must immediately be reformed so as to supply this need-if not by today, then certainly by tomorrow.
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