The Department of Education in the United States is referred to as a Cabinet-level component of the United States Government, in the regard that it is headed by a senior official of the United States Federal Government. The United States Department of Education was headed under the Barack Obama administration by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, assisted by Deputy Secretary of Education Anthony W. Miller.
The U.S. Department of Education has existed as a component of the United States Government since 1979, when it was created according to Congressional legislation and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. The U.S. Department of Education then began its operations in 1980.
In 2010 it was estimated that, as of that year, the U.S. Department of Education required and received around $56 billion in order to operate. That being said, the U.S. Department of Education, with its personnel of some five thousand staffers, is noted as one of the smaller departments of the Federal Government.
The functions of the U.S. Department of Education, and the organization as a whole, are preceded by the more generally applicable Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This agency, as created in 1953, was ended by the same legislation which was responsible for the creation of the U.S. Department of Education, which split the department into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. The specific Congressional Act responsible for this was the Department of Education Organization Act.