U.S. Department of Education

    The history of the Department of Education goes back to 1867, when President Andrew Jackson signed legislation that created the first Department of Education. At this time the department was a non-cabinet level and actually lasted less than a year. During that year the Department of Education collected many statistics about the nation's schools. There was great fear during this time that the Department would exercise too much control over local schools, so the Department of Education was changed to the Office of Education. (ED FACTS, p. 4)

    In the 1950's, more federal aid became available for education due to political and social changes. The Soviet Union's successful launch of Sputnik resulted in improved education in the sciences. In the 1960's President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty led to improvements in education for the poor at all school levels. In the 1970's many educational efforts were aimed at helping racial minorities, individuals with disabilities, women, and people of non-English background. In October 1979, Congress passed Public Law 96-88 which created the present Department of Education. (ED FACTS, p.4). This Act was called The Department of Education Organization Act. Since that time,it has been transferred and reassigned to many different departments or agencies. Currently, The Department of Education comes under the auspices of The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The Department of Education was established as a cabinet-level agency in 1981. During the Reagan years of Presidency, the Department of Education went through some changes, with two secretaries of Education. However, the four basic responsibilities of the Department of Education have changed very little. The four major responsibilities are:

    1. To establish policies relating to financial aid for education, to administer distribution for these funds, and to monitor their use.

    2. To collect data and oversee research on America's schools and disseminate this information to the public.

    3. To identify major issues and problems in education and to focus atttention to these problems.

    4. To enforce federal statutes prohibiting discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal funds and to ensure equal access to education. (ED FACTS, p.1)

    In April, 1991 a four-part educational strategy was developed, with an aim to improving the education of all Americans- by the year 2000. This strategy is known as America 2000 and attempts to make today's schools better and more accountable. The four parts of this challenge are:

    1. Adopt the Six National Education Goals.

    2. Develop a Commuity-wide strategy to meet them.

    3. Design a report card to measure progress

    4. Plan for and support a New American School (Ed Facts, p.1).

    America 2000 is formally known as Goals 2000: Educate America Act. It is a landmark school reform effort that provides a framework for excellence in the nation's schools. On the third Tuesday of each month, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley hosts a live, interactive video teleconference for communities working to improve their schools and to reach the National Education Goals. Interested individuals may view the meetings at community downlink sites or by watching participating local public access TV. This teleconference is known as The GOALS 2000 Satellite Town Meeting. ( A Teacher's Guide to the U.S. Department of Education, p.9)


    The U.S. Department of Education
    Organizational Structure

    The U.S. Department of Education is comprised of many offices that carry out the different components of the Department's mission. Listed below are the different offices and their major responsibilities:

    Office of the Secretary
    Forms agency goals and represents the Department in various functions.
    Secretary Richard W. Riley

    Office of the Deputy Secretary
    Is responsible for internal management of the Department. Works with the Secretary to achieve policy goals. Oversees program offices and external relations.
    Deputy Secretary Madeleine M. Kunin

    Office of the Under Secretary
    Provides advice about policy to the Secretary and is also responsible for the Budget Office and the Office of Policy and Planning.

    Office of Chief Financial Officer
    Oversees the Department's financial matters and coordinates contracts and grants.
    Chief Financial Officer Donald R. Wurtz

    Office of Inspector General
    Investigates agency programs and operations to prevent waste, fraud and abuse and promotes the overall goals of the Department.
    James B. Thomas, Jr.

    Office of the General Counsel
    Provides the Department with legal services.
    General Counsel Judith A. Winston

    Office of Postsecondary Education
    Provides students in postsecondary education with financial assistance and leadership. Supports institutions of higher education in the development of appropriate housing, facilities, and instructional programs.
    Assistant Secretary Thomas W. Payzant

    Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
    Promotes and provides federal funding to improve education for disabled children and adults.
    Assistant Secretary David A. Longanecker

    Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs
    Oversees different programs to help students with limited ability to speak English.
    Director Eugene E. Garcia

    Office of Vocational and Adult Education
    Helps to provide funding for programs to prepare people of all ages with the basic skills for employment.
    Assistant Secretary Augusta Souza Kappner

    Office of Civil Rights
    Enforces laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, age, or disability in different educational instructional programs that benefit from federal funds. Gives technical assistance to schools to achieve voluntary compliance with the civil rights laws.
    Assistant Secretary Norma V. Cantu

    Office of Educational Research and Improvement
    Oversees research funding. Demonstrates ways to improve education and distributes statistical information about the condition of education.
    Assistant Secretary Sharon P. Robinson

    Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs
    Serves as Congressional liaison and coordinates legislative activities.
    Assistant Secretary Kay L. Casstevens

    Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs
    Serves as intermediary to intergovernmental, international, community and other groups. The Office of Private Education helps to maintain quality education for those attending private school.
    Acting Assistant Secretary Henry M. Smith

    Office of Human Resources and Administration Provides the Department with administrative, personnel, technology and other support services and administers the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
    Assistant Secretary Rodney A. McCowan

    All Department of Education agencies and programs have their headquarters and operations in Washington, DC where approximately 3600 staff members occupy several buildings. Due to legislative and programmatic mandates, the Department of Education funds research and other data-gathering projects and studies and disseminates this information through its various departmental statistical publications. Some of the statistical publications are listed in Table 2 of this paper, but those of most importance are: The Condition of Education, Digest of Education Statistics, and Projections of Education Statistics. These three publications present statistics on a wide range of topics. Of all the publications on educational statistics, The Digest of Education Statistics is considered the primary resource. This publication covers a wealth of information concerning all levels of education.

    The Education Digest is published with researchers, policy analysts, media, business persons, and the general public in mind. In 1962, the edition of the Digest was printed. The 1992 Digest is the 28th in the series of publications. The Education Digest comprises a selection of data from many sources, both private and government. The publication contains a wide range of information on schools, teachers, enrollments, graduates, educational attainment, finances, funding, and employment and income of graduates. Recently, The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) has produced a machine-readable version of The Education Digest. The diskette containing The Education Digest also includes other publications such as The Condition of Education and Youth Indicators and Historical Trends: State Education Facts.

    As noted in Table 1 of this paper, there are many general printed publications of the Department of Education. This list represents a sample of the total. There are many other types of publications such as microfiche, micoform and CD-ROM products that are made available to depository libraries on a regular basis. The printed information includes a wide range of topics and formats such as grant guides, professional periodicals, basic policy information pamphlets, directories and so on. However, there is an increasing demand to make information more readily available to more users. Therefore, the Department of Education has a nationwide information network known as the Educational Resources Information Center or ERIC. ERIC was formed in 1966 as a unit of the Education Research and Improvement Office, within the Department of Education. The purpose of this network is to acquire, index, and disseminate timely education-related materials for the use of teachers, administrators, researchers, and any other interested persons. (Morehead, p.366) There is a central coordinating staff in Washington, in addition to sixteen clearinghouses to accomplish this goal. The electronic format may eventually replace most of the printed material. Each ERIC clearinghouse is responsible for a certain subject area of education- to collect all relevant unpublished material of value and make it available in non-copyrightable form. The ERIC database today contains over 6,000 documents and journal articles.

    In 1986, ACCESS ERIC, a comprehensive outreach and dissemination program for the entire ERIC system, was established. (Morehead, p.367). ACCESS ERIC consists of reference staff who are trained to answer questions about the system, the database, and other education-related information. ACCESS ERIC sells some publications and offers them free of charge online to almost anyone with the proper computer and communications software. The list below includes both print and electronic publications provided by ERIC:

    1. All About ERIC
    2. A Pocket Guide To ERIC
    3. Submitting Documents to ERIC
    4. Resources in Education
    5. ERIC on Silver Platter
    6. ERIC Online
    7. Dialog on Disc: ERIC CD-ROM
    8. Current Index to Journals in Education
    9. Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors

    The two major indexing and abstracting services are Resources in Education and Current Index to Journals in Education. Both are available in paper form and provide the bibliographic control of educational materials accepted into the ERIC database.

    Table 1

    SuDoc # Publication Title Type Frequency
    Ed 1.14 Campus Board Programs Report Major Series
    Ed 1.15 Monographs on Career Education Major Series Irregular
    Ed 1.9/2 What's Noteworthy On... Major Series
    Ed 1.36 Education Around the World Major Series Irregular
    Ed 1.74 Work Study Reports Major Series Irregular
    Ed 1.72 Request for Proposal Major Series Irregular
    Ed 1.74 Work-Study Reports Major Series Irregular
    Ed 1.43 English Language Proficiency Study Major Series
    Ed 1.45/3 Pell Grant Series Major Series Irregular
    Ed 1.322 Research in Brief Major Series Irregular
    Ed 1.328/ Technical Report Major Series
    Ed 1.9 Ed Facts Periodical Monthly
    Ed 1.10 American Education Periodical Ten/year
    Ed 1.1 Resources in Education Periodical Monthly
    Ed 1.30 Vocational Educator Periodical Quarterly
    Ed 1.79/2 Naric Quarterly Periodical Quarterly
    Ed 1.211 American Rehabilitation Periodical Quarterly
    Ed 1.212 Focus of Special Education Legal Prac. Periodical Quarterly
    Ed 1.310 Resources in Education Periodical Monthly
    Ed 1.30 Directory of Community Education Projects Directory Annual
    Ed 1.30 Directory of Education Associations Directory
    Ed 1.111 Ed. Directory, Colleges & Universities Directory Annual
    Ed 1.129 Directory of Library Networks
    and Cooperative Library Org. Directory Quinquennail
    Ed 1.111 Education Directory,State Ed. Offices Directory Annual
    Ed 1.111 Directory of Postsecondary Inst. Directory Annual

    Table 2

    SuDoc # Publication Title Frequency
    Ed 1.113 Digest of Education Statistics Annual
    Ed 1.112 Statistics of Elementary and
    Secondary Day Schools Annual
    Ed 1.116 Financial Statistics of Institutions
    of Higher Education Annual
    Ed 1.120 Projections of Education Statistics Annual
    Ed 1.132 Trends in Education Annual
    Ed 1.32/2 Trends in Bachelors and Annual
    Higher Degrees


Androit, John L. Guide to U.S. Government Publications. McLean, VA: Documents Index, 1986.

Morehead, Joe and Mary Fetzer. Introduction to United States Government Sources. 4th Edition. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1992.

Sears, Jean L. and Marilyn K. Moody. Using Government Information Sources: print and electronic. --2nd ed. Phoenix, Arizona: The Oryx Press, 1994.

U..S. Department of Education. A Teacher's Guide to the U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1994.

U.S. Department of Education. Ed Facts: Information About the U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992.

U.S. Department of Education. Mini-Digest of Education Statistics 1993. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993.

U.S. Department of Education. Pocket Digest: Digest of Education Statistics 1992. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992.


Prepared by Retha Murphy, 4/95, updated 12/97.