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United States Department of Education

Dept. of Education
Established:October 17, 1979
Activated:May 4, 1980
Secretary:Rod Paige[?]
Deputy Secretary:William D. Hansen[?]
Budget:$59.5 billion (2003)
Employees:4,620 (2003)

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.

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.

A previous Department of Education was created in 1867, but was soon demoted to an Office in 1868. Its creation 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.

Table of contents

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

Related Legislation

Primary Education

Higher Education

External Links



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