Department of Education

Department of Education in the United States

The Department of Education establishes policy for, administers, and coordinates most Federal assistance to education.

The mission of the Department of Education is to ensure equal access to education and to promote student achievement and preparation for competition (educational excellence) in a global economy by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access to educational opportunity.

The Department of Education was created by the Department of Education Organization Act (20 U.S.C. 3411) and is administered under the supervision and direction of the Secretary of Education.

The Department administers federal financial aid for education, collects data on America’s schools to guide improvements in education quality, and works to complement the efforts of state and local governments, parents, and students.

The U.S. Secretary of Education oversees the Department’s 4,200 employees and $68.6 billion budget.

Introduction to Department of Education

Department of Education, executive department of the United States government, created by Congress in 1979 and officially established in May 1980. The department is administered by a secretary, who is appointed by the president, with the approval of the Senate, and who is a member of the cabinet.

Congress first authorized a Department of Education in 1867 to collect and disseminate information on education. About a year later it was abolished and its functions transferred to a new Office of Education in the Department of the Interior. This office became part of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1953. During its history, the Office of Education acquired responsibility for aiding public and private schools at all levels. For many years educators, led by the National Education Association, claimed that federal educational activities deserved membership in the cabinet. This goal was fulfilled with the establishment of the new department.

The major purposes of the Department of Education are to ensure equal educational opportunity for all and to improve the quality of that education through federal support, research programs, and information sharing. To this end, the department oversees a variety of financial-aid programs. These include support to states and local school districts to assist underprivileged and disabled students, provide vocational education, promote bilingual education, and oversee racial integration. For colleges and universities, the department provides money for programs in international studies, adult education courses, grants to improve instruction, assistance in building facilities, and financial aid to students. In addition, it enforces civil rights and conducts research and gathers educational information.” (1)

Regional Offices

Each regional of?ce serves as a center for the dissemination
of information and provides technical assistance to State and local educational
agencies and other institutions and individuals interested in Federal
educational activities. Offices are located in Boston, MA; New York, NY;
Philadelphia, PA; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Kansas City, MO; Denver,
CO; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.


The Secretary of Education advises the President on education plans,
policies, and programs of the Federal Government and serves as the chief
executive of?cer of the Department, supervising all Department activities,
providing support to States and localities, and focusing resources to ensure equal
access to educational excellence throughout the Nation.


Institute of Education Sciences

The Institute of Education Sciences was formally established by the Education
Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (20 U.S.C. 9501 note). The Institute includes
national education centers focused on research, special education, statistics,
and evaluation and is the mechanism through which the Department supports
the research activities needed to improve education policy and practice.

Elementary and Secondary

Education The Office of Elementary and Secondary
Education directs, coordinates, and formulates policy relating to early
childhood, elementary, and secondary education. Included are grants and
contracts to State educational agencies and local school districts, postsecondary
schools, and nonprofit organizations for disadvantaged, migrant, and Indian
children; enhancement of State student achievement assessment systems;
improvement of reading instruction; economic impact aid; technology; and
after-school learning programs. The Office also focuses on improving K–12
education, providing children with language and cognitive development,
early reading, and other readiness skills, and improving the quality of teachers and
other instructional staff.

English Language Acquisition

The Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic
Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students helps children who
are limited in their English, including immigrant children and youth, attain
English pro?ciency, develop high levels of academic attainment in English,
and meet the same challenging State academic content and student academic
achievement standards that all children are expected to meet.

Federal Student Aid

Federal Student Aid partners with postsecondary schools and
financial institutions to deliver programs and services that help students finance
their education beyond high school. This includes administering postsecondary
student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher
Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Innovation and Improvement

The Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) oversees competitive grant
programs that support innovations in the educational system and disseminates the
lessons learned from these innovative practices. OII administers, coordinates,
and recommends programs and policy for improving the quality of activities
designed to support and test innovations throughout the K–12 system in areas
such as parental choice, teacher quality, use of technology in education, and
arts in education. OII encourages the establishment of charter schools
through planning, start-up funding, and approaches to credit enhancement for
charter school facilities. OII also serves as the Department’s liaison and resource to
the nonpublic education community.

Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
(OSERS) provides leadership and resources to help ensure that people with
disabilities have equal opportunities to learn, work, and live as fully integrated
and contributing members of society. OSERS has three components: The
Office of Special Education Programs administers the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act legislation, which helps States meet the early
intervention and educational needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth
with disabilities. The Rehabilitation Services Administration supports State
vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and assistive technology programs
that provide people with disabilities the services, technology, and job training
and placement assistance they need to gain meaningful employment and lead
independent lives. The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
supports research and development programs that improve the ability of
individuals with disabilities to work and live in a barrier-free, inclusive
society. OSERS also supports Gallaudet University, the National Technical
Institute for the Deaf, the American Printing House for the Blind, and the
Helen Keller National Center.

Vocational and Adult Education

The Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) administers grant, contract,
and technical assistance programs for vocational-technical education and
for adult education and literacy. OVAE promotes programs that enable adults
to acquire the basic literacy skills necessary to function in today’s society.
OVAE also helps students acquire challenging academic and technical
skills and prepare for high-skill, highwage, and high-demand occupations
in the 21st-century global economy. OVAE provides national leadership
and works to strengthen the role of community colleges in expanding access
to postsecondary education for youth and adults in advancing workforce

Postsecondary Education

The Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) formulates Federal postsecondary
education policy and administers programs that address critical national
needs in support of the mission to increase access to quality postsecondary
education. OPE develops policy for Federal student financial programs and support programs that reach out to lowincome, first-generation college students and communities. OPE also supports
programs that strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities serving a high
percentage of disadvantaged students and improve teacher quality. OPE recognizes
accrediting agencies that monitor academic quality, promote innovation in
higher education, and expand American educational resources for international
studies and services.

Safe and Drug-Free Schools

The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) administers, coordinates, and
recommends policy for improving drug and violence prevention programs.
OSDFS, in partnership with State and local educational agencies and public
and private nonprofit organizations, supports and provides funding for
efforts to promote safe schools, respond to crises, prevent drug and alcohol
abuse, ensure the health and wellbeing of students, and teach students
good citizenship and character. OSDFS participates in the formulation
and development of program policy, legislative proposals, and administration
policies related to violence and drug prevention. OSDFS also administers the
Department’s character, citizenship, and civic education programs.

Department of Education

In Legislation

Department of Education in the U.S. Code: Title 20, Chapter 48

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating department of education are compiled in the United States Code under Title 20, Chapter 48. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Education (including department of education) of the United States. The readers can further narrow their legal research on the topic by chapter and subchapter.


Notes and References

Guide to Department of Education

In this Section

Federal Departments, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense (including Department of Defense Purpose, Department of Defense Organization, Department of Defense Liaison of Command and Department of Defense Supporting Agencies), Department of Education, Department of Energy

(including Department of Energy Purpose, Department of Energy Organization and Department of Energy Research and Development), Department of Health and Human Services (including Department of Health and Human Services History and Department of Health and Human Services Agencies and Services), Department of Homeland Security (including Department of Homeland Security Organization and Functions, Department of Homeland Security Origins and Department of Homeland Security Supporting Agencies), Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice (including Department of Justice Functions, Department of Justice Structure and Department of Justice Associated Agencies), Department of Labor, Department of National Defence, Department of State (including Department of State Administration and Department of State Bureaus), Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of the Interior (including Department of the Interior Functions and Department of the Interior Principal Agencies), Department of the Navy, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs (including the Department of Veterans Affairs Service Categories, Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Available and GI Bill of Rights) and Department of War.

U.S. Department of Education

Department of Education: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Department of Education. This part provides references, in relation to Department of Education, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Department of Education by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Department of Education and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Department of Education or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Department of Education and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Department of Education. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Department of Education should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Department of Education when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment