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The Diverted DreamCommunity Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985$
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Steven Brint and Jerome Karabel

Print publication date: 1989

Print ISBN-13: 9780195048155

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195048155.001.0001

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The Takeoff Period: 1946–1970

The Takeoff Period: 1946–1970

3 The Takeoff Period: 1946–1970
Title Pages

Steven Brint

Jerome Karabel

Oxford University Press

At the end of World War II, a sense of expectancy pervaded America’s colleges and universities. Enrollments had dropped during the war years, and many institutions looked forward to the return of millions of veterans. These veterans were themselves eager to get ahead in civilian life after the hardships of war, and the nation was eager to reward them for the sacrifices that they had made. Already in 1944, as the war was coming to a close, the prestigious Education Policies Commission of the National Education Association and the American Association for School Administrators came out with a report entitled Education for All American Youth. Though focused more on secondary than higher education, the report sounded some themes that were to shape thinking about education for veterans as well. Perhaps the most powerful of these themes was the belief that the war had called on all of the American people to make sacrifices and that efforts must be made to see that no segment of the population would be excluded from the rewards of American society. For higher education, in particular, this meant that new measures would be required to realize the traditional American dream of equality of opportunity. Alongside the idealistic impulse to extend to veterans unprecedented educational opportunities, there was also the fear that the nation’s economy would be unable to provide work for the millions of returning soldiers. The massive unemployment of the Great Depression had, after all, been relieved only by the boost that war production had given the economy. The end of the war therefore threatened—or so it was widely believed at the time—to send the economy back into a terrible slump. With so many soldiers returning home, the possibility of such a downturn frightened policy elites and the public alike, for it was almost certain to revive the bitter social and political conflicts of the 1930s. Together with more idealistic factors, this concern with the effects of the returning veterans on domestic stability led to one of the major higher education acts in American history: the G.I. Bill of 1944.

Keywords:   Alfred Sloan Foundation, Business occupational programs, California Master Plan, Educational opportunity, Florida community colleges, General Education Board, Higher Education Facilities Act, Indiana community colleages, Junior College Journal

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