FACTOID # 18: Alaska spends more money per capita on elementary and secondary education than any other state.
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Encyclopedia > U.S. Department of Education
Dept. of Education

Seal of the Department of Education

Established: October 17, 1979
Activated: May 4, 1980
Secretary: Margaret Spellings
Deputy Secretary: Eugene W. Hickok
Budget: $62.8 billion (2004)
Employees: 4,487 (2004)

The United States Department of Education was created in 1979 (by PL 96-88) as a Cabinet-level department of the United States government, and began operating in 1980.

Its functions were previously in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare which was divided into the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services when President Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act into law on October 17, 1979. It began operation on May 4, 1980. It is administered by the United States Secretary of Education.

It is by far the smallest cabinet-level department, with little over 4,000 employees.



Unlike the educational system of many other countries, education in the United States is highly decentralized, and the Federal government and Department of Education are not heavily involved in determining curriculum or educational standards. Rather, the primary function of the United States Department of Education is to administer federal funding programs involving education and to enforce federal educational laws involved with privacy and civil rights. The quality of educational institutions and their degrees is maintained through an informal process known as accreditation which the Department of Education has no direct control over.

A previous Department of Education was created in 1867, but was soon demoted to an Office in 1868. Its creation a century later in 1979 was controversial and opposed by many in the Republican Party, who saw the Department as unwanted Federal bureaucratic intrusion into local affairs. Throughout the 1980s, the abolition of the Department of Education was a part of the Republican Party platform, but several Republican administrations declined to implement this idea, and by the 1990s there was bipartisan support for the continuation of the department.

Operating units

  • Office of Federal Student Aid
  • Office for Civil Rights
  • Office of Educational Research and Improvement
  • Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students
  • Office of Postsecondary Education
  • Office of Special Educational and Rehabilitation Services
  • Office of Vocational and Adult Education
  • [1] (http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/index.html?src=oc)Office of Inspector General

Related legislation

Primary education

Higher education

External links

  Results from FactBites:
U.S. Department of Education Budget Office (242 words)
We also provide a variety of detailed budget tables on key aspects of the Department's budget, including the President's Budget Request, Congressional action on appropriations, State allocations, and historical funding levels.
The Department's elementary and secondary programs annually serve more than 14,000 school districts and approximately 56 million students attending some 97,000 public schools and 28,000 private schools.
That said, it is important to point out that education in America is primarily a State and local responsibility, and ED's budget is only a small part of both total national education spending and the overall Federal budget, as we explain in a primer on the Federal role in education.
TN Department of Education:K-12 (363 words)
Her experience in education is varied and includes appointments by former Governors McWherter and Sundquist to the Advisory Council for the Education of Children with Disabilities and by Governor Bredesen to the Tennessee Board of Regents, University of Tennessee Trustees, Education Commission of the States, Southern Regional Educational Board, Jobs Cabinet, and the Children’s Cabinet.
She has testified before the U. Senate Education Subcommittee for K-12 Education and is a member of the US Department of Education task force on growth models.
Seivers holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Middle Tennessee State University, a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Tennessee and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Tennessee.
  More results at FactBites »



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