In January, the Modern Language Association reported that colleges across the country have shut down a “stunning” 651 language programs over the past three years. This astounding news did not make headlines. It is a quiet crisis — and a harbinger of peril for the next generation of U.S. leaders.
In 1957 a tiny satellite named Sputnik shook Americans out of their global leadership complacency. If the Russians could beat us into space, then maybe they could beat us in other areas as well.
The shock sparked a mad dash in math, engineering and science. It prompted an explosion nationwide in the study of Russian and other “critical languages” used by our allies and adversaries alike. It steeled the determination as a nation to boost the knowledge base and learn languages to maintain U.S. leadership and national security.
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