The Department of Education, also known as ED, was created in 1980 when offices from several federal agencies were combined together. The mission of the Department of Education is “to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access”. The Department of Education is responsible for a number of things including: establishing and monitoring policies on federal funds used for education, collecting and sharing data on America’s schools, determining key education issues and focusing national attention on them, and ensuring equal access to education.
According to the Department of Education history, as reported on their website ed.gov, a budget of $15,000 and four employees in the 1860s has increased to a budget of $67.3 billion and 4,200 employees as of 2009, with an additional $100 billion to be used over a two year period as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. A number of historical events led to the establishment of the federal agency known as the Department of Education. As the country watched the Soviet Union launch Sputnik and as large cities started to experience large areas of illiterate and poverty stricken neighborhoods, government officials saw an increasing need for government to step in and help with and monitor educational opportunity for all Americans.
There are a number of things that the Department of Education does NOT do. They do not establish schools, develop curriculum, determine criteria for graduation or enrollment, set state standards for education, or create and implement testing procedures for individual states to determine whether state education standards are being met. Each state has its own methods and procedures (involving both public and private organizations) that are involved in developing, assessing, and maintaining educational standards. Starting in 1969 the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics started conducting a National Assessment of Educational Progress, states can compare their testing results to these results to get an idea of where they may need additional or improved testing measures.
The Department of Education is headquartered in Washington, D.C. where 3,100 of the 4,200 employees are located. The other 1,100 employees work in regional offices located in ten areas throughout the country. For individuals that would like more detailed information, or contact information for the Department of Education, the ED.gov website provides phone numbers and mailing addresses for the Department’s headquarters and regional offices. The website also contains information about budgets and performance statistics, teaching resources, publications, federal financial aid, college accreditation, No Child Left Behind, and much more. The Department of Education even has a blog that covers current news and events relating to national education issues.
The Department of Education works directly with the President of the United States to make consistent, joint effort to improve the quality of and opportunity for education to each and EVERY individual. In the blog post Final Community College Regional Summit Focuses on Veterans, Military Members and Families on ed.gov/blog, the writer identifies one educational goal of President Obama “…having the best-educated workforce and the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020”. This is a lofty goal that can only be achieved through hard work and cooperation at a national, state, local, and individual level. Visit ed.gov to learn more about how the Department of Education can help parents, adult students, and students of all ages achieve the best education possible.
Sources: ed.gov, ed.gov/blog