A cabinet-level department of the American government is the Department of Education.


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After the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was divided into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services by the Department of Education Organization Act, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law on October 17, 1979, it was established and started operating on May 4, 1980.

The US Secretary of Education is in charge of running the Department of Education. It has 4,400 personnel, the fewest of the Cabinet agencies, with a $68 billion yearly budget. The President has requested 88.3 billion for the 2023 budget, which will go toward programmes such as IDEA for children with disabilities, pandemic recovery, early childhood education, Pell Grants, Title I, and work assistance, among others. The United States Department of Energy is referred to by the abbreviation “DoE,” which is frequently used colloquially as “DoEd.”


Purpose and Functions:

Education in the United States is decentralised, in contrast to systems in many other nations. This means that the federal government and Department of Education are not engaged in deciding on curricula or educational standards or creating schools or colleges because of how the courts and legislatures have interpreted the 10th Amendment. Schools on American military bases are overseen by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and schools under tribal authority are supported by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education. Through an informal private procedure known as accreditation, over which the Department of Education has no direct governmental jurisdictional control, the quality of higher education institutions and their degrees is maintained.

The Department lists the following four essential tasks:

  1. Establishing guidelines for federal student aid, and allocating, allocating, and monitoring those funds.
  2. Gathering information about American schools and providing analysis.
  3. Bringing important educational issues to the nation’s attention.
  4. Preventing prejudice and making sure everyone has access to education.

The Department of Education works with federal partners to guarantee that homeless and runaway adolescents in the United States receive suitable education. The Department of Education is a member of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.


In 2006, ED had a $56 billion discretionary budget and a $23 billion obligatory budget. It received an additional $102 billion in ARRA financing in 2009. The discretionary budget was $70 billion as of 2011.


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The Department of Education was first established in 1867 when President Andrew Johnson signed legislation creating it. It was viewed as a method to compile data and statistics on the country’s schools and offer guidance to institutions of higher learning, much like the Department of Agriculture offered assistance to farmers. Henry Barnard and National Teachers Association officials recommended the Department at first (renamed the National Education Association). When the agency was reorganised as a bureau in the Department of Interior known as the United States Office of Education, Barnard, who had served as the first commissioner of education, resigned out of worries that it would have excessive influence over regional schools.

The United States Department of the Interior and the former United States Department of Health Education and Welfare (DHEW), which is now the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), were among the organisations that housed the office over the years, which remained relatively small and operated under different names. The Smith-Towner Bill of 1920 represented an unsuccessful attempt to establish a Department of Education, led by a Secretary of Education.

The company (previously a bureau) was moved to the Federal Security Agency in 1939, when it was given the new name Office of Education. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued “Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953” following World War II. Most of the duties of the Federal Security Agency were transferred to the newly established DHEW when it was disbanded.

President Carter pushed for the establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Education in 1979. The majority of the duties connected to education currently performed by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare were intended to be transferred to the Department of Education. Along with a few other federal agencies, Carter also intended to transfer the education-related duties from the Defense, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture departments. Headstart, the Department of Agriculture’s school lunch and nutrition programmes, the Department of the Interior’s Native American education programmes, and the Department of Labor’s education and training programmes were among the federal education-related initiatives that were not proposed to be transferred.

Many Republicans opposed the department’s elevation to cabinet status in 1979, claiming that the Constitution doesn’t mention education and that it was an unneeded and unlawful federal bureaucratic interference into local affairs. Many people believe that the department’s financial role is constitutional under the Taxing and Spending Clause and that the department itself is constitutional under the Commerce Clause. The American Federation of Teachers opposed the law, while the National Education Association backed it.

Many Republicans opposed the department’s elevation to cabinet status in 1979, claiming that the Constitution doesn’t mention education and that it was an unneeded and unlawful federal bureaucratic interference into local affairs. Many people believe that the department’s financial role is constitutional under the Taxing and Spending Clause and that the department itself is constitutional under the Commerce Clause. The American Federation of Teachers opposed the law, while the National Education Association backed it.


Early History:

While President Ronald Reagan pledged to abolish the Department of Education as a cabinet position during the 1980 presidential election, he was unable to do so because of a Democratic House of Representatives. The Republican Party platform of that year advocated for its dissolution. “The budget plan I propose to you on Feb. 8 will produce enormous savings by abolishing the Department of Education,” he promised in the State of the Union Address of 1982.

By 1984, the GOP had removed the call for elimination from its platform, and after George H. W. Bush was elected president in 1988, the Republican and Democratic positions shifted nearly in lockstep, with Goals 2000 being essentially a joint initiative.

Government authority over education increased along with federal funding after the Newt Gingrich-led “revolution” of 1994 had taken over both Houses of Congress. Even though the Republican Party made the department’s elimination a centrepiece of its platform and campaign pledges in 1996, criticising it as an unwarranted federal intrusion into family, municipal, and state issues, the trend persisted unabatedly. Republican platform text: “The federal government is not allowed under the constitution to influence school curricula or market employment. We will eliminate the Department of Education, stop the federal government from interfering in our schools, and support family choice at all levels of education because of this.”

A proposal to do away with the Department of Education was approved by the Republican Liberty Caucus in 2000. Under the George W. Bush administration, which made federal education reform a top focus of the president’s first term, abolition of the organisation was not pursued. Ron Paul ran for president in both 2008 and 2012 and focused some of his campaign on criticising the agency.

Later History:

With the No Child Left Behind Act, the agency broadened its reach while concentrating mostly on primary and secondary education under President George W. Bush. Between 2002 and 2004, the department’s budget grew from $46 billion to $60 billion, a $14 billion increase.

H.R. 584, which renames the ED Headquarters building as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building, was signed into law by President George W. Bush on March 23, 2007.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, was put into effect by President Barack Obama in December 2015. “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was signed into law in December 2015.” (NCLB). Millions of children’s educations have been impacted by ESEA, the federal law that permits federal funding for K–12 schools. It stands for the nation’s commitment to equitable educational opportunity for all kids.

Council For Higher Education:

A group of schools and institutions that grant degrees in the United States is called the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In order to certify the calibre of higher education accrediting organisations, including regional, faith-based, private, career, and programming accrediting organisations, it states that its aim is to provide national advocacy for academic quality through accreditation.


The group, which counts accredited schools and universities among its members, presently accepts about 60 accrediting bodies. Washington, DC is home to CHEA. The International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education includes CHEA as a member (INQAAHE).

Information Resources:

Since each of the accreditors recognised by CHEA is independent, different organisations have different requirements for accreditation. The CHEA offers a website with a searchable database where users can look up the accreditation standing of recognised accreditation bodies, certified schools, or schools that are applying for accreditation (i.e., “candidates” for accreditation). According to the CHEA’s “user agreement for publications of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation,” the database may not contain a complete list of all recognised institutions.

In order to promote high-quality higher education globally and increase awareness of international quality assurance, CHEA established the CHEA International Quality Group (CIQG) in 2012. The CIQG offers a directory of internationally renowned accreditation organisations. It is a nonprofit organisation that focuses on international higher education quality assurance and U.S. and non-U.S. accreditation.

Board of Directors:

A 20-member board of directors, which includes college and university presidents, representatives from other institutions, and members of the general public, governs CHEA. The CHEA Board of Directors will be presided over by Gena Glickman, Ph.D., President Emerita of Manchester Community College, as of 2022. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond is the CHEA staff president.

View Points:

The U.S. Department of Education’s initiatives to improve accreditation have drawn criticism from the CHEA. The organisation has a difficult time explaining to the public the differences between accrediting bodies that are recognised by the U.S. Secretary of Education and those that are accredited by private nongovernmental organisations like CHEA.

Relationship to Government:


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The U.S. Secretary of Education’s recognition, which is necessary for Title IV (HEA) student financial aid eligibility and loan guarantees, differs from that granted by the CHEA to accreditors. The state of Oregon permits accreditation organisations recognised by both the CHEA and the US Department of Education to conduct business in the state for the purpose of state government control of higher education. Organizations, however, may only function under the supervision of the Oregon Student Assistance Commission if they are recognised by CHEA but not also by the Department of Education. The CHEA wants to stop American higher education certification from being managed by ministries like those in Europe.

Accreditation of American higher education:

The authenticity of degrees and credits issued by higher education institutions is guaranteed through the peer review process of higher education accreditation in the United States. Accreditation commissions with participating institutions oversee it. It was first carried out by collaborative educational institutions on a regional scale in the late 19th century.

With the reauthorization of the G.I. Bill for Korean War veterans in 1952, the federal government started to have a more restricted role in the certification of higher education. To accommodate the flood of new students, the original GI Bill legislation had encouraged the formation of new schools and universities; however, some of these new institutions were of questionable quality. GI Bill eligibility was restricted to students enrolled at accredited institutions included on a list of federally recognised accredited institutions published by the U.S. Commissioner of Education. The 1952 legislation designated the existing peer review process as the basis for determining institutional quality.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a non-governmental organisation, and the U.S. Department of Education both recognise reputable accrediting bodies for institutions of higher learning and offer guidelines, resources, and pertinent information about these accreditors. Individual institutions are not accredited by the CHEA or the US Department of Education. The U.S. Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognised accrediting agencies that the secretary has determined to be trustworthy authorities on the quality of education or training provided by the institutions of higher education and the higher education programmes they accredit. This requirement dates back to the creation of the U.S. Department of Education and the terms of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Accreditation through programmes:

In most situations, these accreditors only cover a single professional education or training programme, although occasionally they accredit the entire school. Through participation in the Association of Professional and Specialized Accreditors, best practises are developed and disseminated.