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Department of Education

Seal of the Department of Education

Established: October 17, 1979
Activated: May 4, 1980
Secretary: Margaret Spellings
Deputy Secretary: Raymond Simon
Budget: Discretionary: $56.0 billion (2006)
Mandatory: $13.4 billion (2006)
Employees: 5,000 (2007)

ED headquarters in Washington

A construction project to repair and update the building facade at the Department of Education Headquarters building in 2002 resulted in the installation of structures at all of the entrances to protect employees and visitors from falling debris. ED redesigned these protective structures to promote the "No Child Left Behind Act." The structures are temporary and will be removed in 2007. Source: U.S. Department of Education,

The United States Department of Education (also known as ED) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government. Created by the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88), it 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 about 5,000 employees. The agency's official acronym is ED (and not DOE, which refers to the United States Department of Energy.)

History[edit | edit source]

Unlike the educational system of most 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. This job of centralization and coordination has been left to large private educational foundations. Rather, the primary function of the United States Department of Education is to formulate 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 private process known as accreditation which the Department of Education has no direct public jurisdictional 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 Bush Republican administrators declined to implement this idea. By the mid-1990s, with President Clinton's equal support similar to President Bush, there was little leadership for the demotion of the department.

The elevation of the Department to cabinet status was controversial. President Reagan sought to eliminate it as a cabinet post but did not go through with the threat. Under President George W. Bush, the Department has primarily focused on elementary and secondary education, through its focus on the "No Child Left Behind" law, while considerably marginalizing higher education.

Operating units[edit | edit source]

The following sub-agency components (known as Principal Office Components) exist at ED:

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

  1. REDIRECT Template:USCabinet

Template:ED agencies

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