Although the federal government is the primary source of funding for education in the US, the role of the federal government in education is decentralized. Education is the responsibility of the Department of Education, which reports to the President of the United States. The Secretary collects data on schools and disseminates research on education. In addition, the Department focuses on the needs of minorities and other groups, including those with limited resources.
The Department of Education is the highest-ranking federal agency in the US and is responsible for educational policy and administration. Its programs span every level of education, serving more than one hundred thousand public schools and more than 50 million students. Its mission is to improve the quality of education by ensuring that students achieve at the highest level possible and prepare for global competition. The Department is made up of six cabinet-level agencies, each responsible for a different area of education.
In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, giving the federal government power to intervene in cases of legally sanctioned discrimination. This decision also mandated equal access to education for students with disabilities across states and districts. Martin West, however, says that the federal government’s role in education reflects a conflict inherent in two central tenets of the Constitution.