The U.S. Department of Education in Context

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The U.S. Department of Education in Context

APA Research Paper

Mr. Greg Brown Education 2100-17

Patrick Toth Spring 2012 Running head: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 2 Abstract This research paper, through use of published articles, information retrieved from federal government websites and books, defines the development and role of the U.S. Department of Education, while exploring its historical relevance and context in today’s educational environment.

Running head: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 3 U.S. Department of Education in Context INTRODUCTION
While education for children in the United States today is taken for granted and is considered an option available to all, it has come a long way since it was introduced at the establishment of the first colonies. No longer dictated by civic and religious leaders alone, the role and direction of public education evolved to be managed by states, local communities and counties, school boards, advisory groups and teacher’s unions. In addition, federal presence has played a crucial role since the middle of the 1800s. Government employees and programs were created in an effort to document statistics in a growing movement where a uniform structure of education was becoming commonplace (Stallings, 2002). Over the course of the next one hundred and fifty years, federal involvement grew, and in 1979 a Cabinet-level position focused specifically of education was created and implemented. But what exactly is the Department’s role and its historical relevance regarding education? And how is the agency affecting schools, teachers and students today? DEFINITION

According the Department’s most recent mission statement, the agency exists to “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access” (“U.S. Department of Education,” [ED] 2010, p 8). The statement is formed out of the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88 of October 1979), the federal law that established the agency. It set in place initial goals such as supporting the efforts of states and local Running head: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 4 school systems to continually improve the quality of education; encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents and students in federal education programs; and strengthen the federal commitment to assuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual (ED, 2010). The Department functions to “establish policy for, administer and coordinate most federal assistance to education, collect data on US schools, and to enforce federal educational laws regarding privacy and civil rights” (ED, 2010, p. 8). It is by far the smallest Cabinet-level department with about 5,000 employees, and has a budget of $70 billion as of this year. It was also given $100 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ED, 2012). HISTORY

While federal presence regarding education was established shortly after the Civil War, it was formed into a bureau called the Office of Education. Attempts were made to raise the office to a cabinet-level status on at least two occasions. President Harding did so in 1922, but his Commissioner of...
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