Happy Birthday to Us

The New Year has arrived and with it our 50th anniversary. School Planning & Management has been covering education since 1962. Over the last 50 years, we have seen drastic changes in publishing, the country and education.

To put things in perspective… in 1962, a gallon of gas cost 28 cents, the average income was $5,500 and the average cost of a home was $12,500. John F. Kennedy was president, Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr. became the first American to achieve earth orbit and Soviet missile bases were detected in Cuba.  The term “personal computer” was first mentioned in an article that appeared in the Hillsboro Ohio Press-Gazette where Dr. John Mauchly talked about a time “when everyone would carry his own personal computer.” Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, describing the effects of the use of pesticides and other chemicals on the environment.

On the education front… state-sponsored prayer in schools was ruled unconstitutional (Engel v. Vitale). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that reading a 22-word prayer in New York public schools violated the First Amendment.

James Meredith was the first African American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Meredith had the right to be admitted to the state school. Mississippi’s governor, Ross Barnett, attempted to bar Meredith’s entry. Despite appeals by President Kennedy for peaceful desegregation, rioting broke out on the campus. Two were killed and dozens injured.

In 1962, the goal of the “Office of Education” was to provide the highest quality educational programs possible and extend that opportunity to all. Issues included “recognizing the need for trained technical manpower,” resulting in the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962, which endeavored to train and retrain thousands of workers unemployed because of automation and technological change.

The Cold War, with its accent on scientific preeminence, revealed our weakness in training sufficient numbers of skilled technicians. Other issues were challenges faced by urban school districts, equal opportunity, special education programs and student fitness. On the facilities side, local school officials were confronted with a shortage of space — a problem they thought would be solved by the end of the decade.

It amazes me how some things have really changed while others have stayed the same. Looks like we still have work to do!