Carter Establishes Department of Education 

Carter Establishes Department of Education 

U.S. #1833 was issued to honor the creation of the Department of Education.

On October 17, 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed legislation establishing the U.S. Department of Education.

The history of the department dates back to over 100 years earlier, when Congressman Justin Morrill introduced a bill for the creation of public land grants for state colleges. His bill went largely ignored for several years, until President Lincoln’s administration took it under consideration, but first wanted to collect information on the schools already in existence and already being built.

Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, then created the Department of Education on March 2, 1867, largely at the urging of Zalmon Richard. However, the department only retained its independent status for two years before it was changed to the Office of Education within the Department of the Interior. Over the next century, the office would change names, temporarily to the Bureau of Education, and be transferred to the Federal Security Agency and later the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

U.S. #1206 was issued for the 100th anniversary of the first land grant colleges in the U.S., proposed by Justin Morrill.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter proposed reinstating a cabinet-level Department of Education in order to “establish policy for, administer and coordinate most federal assistance to education, collect data on U.S. schools, and to enforce federal educational laws regarding privacy and civil rights.” Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act into law on October 17, 1979, with operations officially beginning on May 4, 1980.

U.S. #1833 FDC – Education Silk Cachet Combination First Day Cover.

The department started out with 3,000 workers and a budget of $12 billion before Congress increased that to 17,000 employees and a $14.2 billion. The Department of Education was made responsible for creating policies, monitoring federal funding of education, studying schools, and ensuring equal education for students – it does not decide what students are taught, that is left to individual states and local offices.

U.S. #1833 FDC – Fleetwood Plate Block First Day Cover.

In the 1980 presidential election, Ronald Reagan promised to eliminate the department, as he and his party saw it as unconstitutional and too expensive. After winning the election, Reagan cut funding, but was never able to fully dismantle the department.

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8 responses to "Carter Establishes Department of Education "

8 thoughts on “Carter Establishes Department of Education ”

  1. One of the saddest days in history. Since then our quality of education has eroded to the point where today’s youth can’t even sign their names.

  2. Hopefully Betsy DeVos will be able to finish what Ronald Reagan started; removing a needless department run by special interest groups who are only worried about their own pockets, like the American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Principals, Pearson Education, and McGraw-Hill.

  3. As a public school teacher for 38 years, I have to say to Bob and Dom, you don’t know what you are talking about. And Mike, make your point a little more clear. Actually, what is your point?

    • Didn’t mean to denigrate your profession, Conrad. In our village, the local school district bigwigs bragged about a barely fifty-percent pass rate on basic skills proficiency test results. They included the “good” news in their annual “why we want more tax money” newsletter. So yeah, the numbers don’t lie. The kids who need it the most aren’t being educated (for whatever societal reasons you might care to blame).

  4. When more than half the kids in some districts come from families that are below or just above the poverty level, and many come from homes where little or no English is spoken, one can predict difficulty with basic skills tests. You can call that blame if you want to, but another word is reality. Smaller class size and one-on-one teaching helps, but that costs money, and that means higher taxes, and we all know how “popular” that is.

  5. Are the negative comments opposed to our federal government providing money to support local education or are these comments opposed to an agency providing oversight as to where our tax money (or more accurately our debt money) is going? The authors of the negative comments need a refresher course at their local community college in complaining in order to get their point across.


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