Agency Profile: The Department of Education

The Lyndon B. Johnson Building, headquarters of the United States Department of Education in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Coolcaesar)
The Lyndon B. Johnson Building, headquarters of the United States Department of Education in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Coolcaesar)

For many in the college crowd, the Department of Education equals financial aid. To be sure, providing financial support for college is one of the agency's most important functions, but have you ever stopped to think about the other roles this extensive federal agency performs?

In a nutshell, the Department of Education works to ensure all students enjoy a good education in public schools. Its primary responsibility lies with the nation's students: The agency must make sure the country's public school system provides students with proper school supplies, facilities and qualified teachers.

In a rapidly changing society with a fast-paced economy, the Department of Education is also racing to search for cutting-edge learning tools and techniques. It encourages the use of modern technology in the classroom, promotes parental involvement and creates policies that provide opportunities for underprivileged kids.

People of all backgrounds work at the Department of Education. Whether your interest is teaching, public policy, early childhood development, communications, special education, statistics or accounting, there's a job for you.

Department of Education employees work in:

  • The Office of English Language Acquisition, which deals with educating students who do not speak English as a first language, administers programs to fund activities that assist students with limited English proficiency.
  • The Office of Federal Student Aid provides grants, work and loan programs to students pursuing a postsecondary education.
  • The Office of Postsecondary Education formulates policy and directs programs to assist college and university administrators and their students. Programs include grants to improve instruction in crucial academic subjects and the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which works to promote opportunities for students of color.
  • The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services helps ensure that people with disabilities have services, resources and equal opportunities to learn, work and live as fully integrated, contributing members of society.
  • The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education provides grants and support to school districts for initiatives including class-size reduction, drop-out prevention, school reform and arts in education.
  • The Office of Vocational and Adult Education administers grant, contract, research and technical assistance programs for vocational-technical education, as well as for adult education and literacy. The office also partners with the Department of Labor in administering the School-to-Work Opportunities Initiative, which awards grants to urban and rural areas with high rates of poverty so they can develop work programs that help prepare disadvantaged students for a first job in a high-skill, high-wage career.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics collects and analyzes education-related data.
  • The Office for Civil Rights, which ensures equal access to education, resolves discrimination complaints and enforces federal education-related antidiscrimination laws.

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