From Berkeley to Kent State
AS THE 1960s BEGAN, the trouble spots in American education were plain to see. The persistence of racial segregation in the South guaranteed continued unrest; the migration of poor blacks and Hispanics to northern and western cities presented urban schools with new problems of race and poverty; the Soviet Union's successful launching of its Sputnik spacecraft stimulated anxiety about the state of the nation's schools; the repeated calls for federal aid to education continued to be ignored, even as the baby boom generation filled the nation's classrooms. The one sector of American education that seemed to be in sound health, responsive to the needs of its students and its society, was higher education.
Riding the crest of exuberant growth, thinking of themselves as leaders of vital and socially dynamic institutions, college and university officials had no reason to anticipate the era of crisis that lay before them. Going to college was the culmination of the American dream, the gateway to economic success and social status. As higher education grew bigger and opened its doors wider, there were no dark clouds on the horizon, not even the problem of financing, which seemed manageable in a thriving economy. In a time of unbounded optimism, no one could have predicted that many of America's campuses would come under siege in the late 1960s;