The Sputnik Shock

Sixty-five years ago, Sputnik shocked us out of complacency. We woke up to the fact that students in other countries studied more than one language. HS Math books were quickly replaced with better ones. More students elected to study biology, chemistry, and physics. Schools suddenly looked for teachers who could teach Russian. President Kennedy decided to shoot for the moon. Afraid that the Soviet Union would bury us, we went to work.

Today, we have slipped back into complacency. Other countries do better at education, while we debate which books students not be allowed to read. College is discouraged; we argue over divisive religious views. Foreign scientists, mathematicians and engineers are better educated than many Americans. Too few Americans study medicine; we threaten doctors with prison for protecting women’s health.

Unless we care, nothing will get better. We need another shock. Perhaps storms, drought, wildfire, and rising temperatures will spur us to act. We need responsible legislators who will reason together and act on facts, rather than foolish ideas, however popular. Too many elected officials lack relevant education, experience, or accomplishments; too many have no more that a BA in political science. This mid-term election is an opportunity to begin to fix that.


About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
This entry was posted in Congress, Education, Political and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Sputnik Shock

  1. Gary Perry says:

    Public schools should not be teaching sex education & LBGTQxyz especially to children in elementary grades.
    If you go on YouTube you can find endless videos of public school teachers coming out to their elementary school students about their Transgender, non-binary and LGBTQ lifestyles.
    Also, if you have been paying attention parents of all races do not want Critical Race Theory taught to their children.
    It is fostering more racism and continuing racism.
    Parents want public schools teaching the STEAM courses and not being used as social expiraments.


  2. annieasksyou says:

    You’re so right, whungerford. With a greater emphasis on teaching critical thinking, more people will be able to discern the Big Lies and gross exaggerations that apparently have persuaded voters to believe things about the mainstream Democratic candidates whose views on major issues represent the majority of Americans.

    Crime is a glaring example. The highest rates of violent crime–deaths and rapes–are in the Southern states with the loosest gun laws and strictest anti-choice laws. Yet vast majorities of Americans believe in reproductive freedom and more sensible gun legislation–even gun owners in red states.

    The economy is another. Congressional testimony has documented that 53% of today’s inflation is due to a dramatic excess in corporate profits. (Inflation is, of course, worldwide, fueled by supply chain disruptions from Covid and Putin’s war.)

    The Republicans’ response? More tax breaks for the wealthiest; use the debt ceiling as a cudgel to try to force President Biden and the Democrats to cut Social Security and Medicare and roll back the popular programs the Biden administration has passed– most of which the Republicans voted in lockstep to oppose but are now claiming credit for bringing to their districts. (See Elise Stefanik.) They would not fix the economy; they’d worsen it–and if they were to succeed in their game of chicken and cause a first-ever default–they’d create a worldwide economic disaster.

    I fervently hope that people wake up before they/we must reckon with forces that will deny our abilities to cast votes that will count–and thus our ability to live as safe, free Americans in a democratic republic.


  3. whungerford says:

    Thanks for your comment Gary. I think you must mean some parents, because not all parents share your views.


  4. whungerford says:

    Thanks for your comment, Annie. Education surely helps one tell fiction from fact. Here in Western NY, some candidates campaign with platitudes: stop inflation, lower taxes, small govt., etc. I too fervently hope that voters accurately assess the probable consequences of their votes.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.