The primary functions of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) are to "establish policy for, administer and coordinate most federal assistance to education, collect data on US schools, and to enforce federal educational laws regarding privacy and civil rights." The Department of Education does not establish schools or colleges.
Unlike the systems of most other countries, education in the United States is highly decentralized, and the federal government and Department of Education are not heavily involved in determining curricula or educational standards. This has been left to state and local school districts. The quality of educational institutions and their degrees is maintained through an informal private process known as accreditation, over which the Department of Education has no direct public jurisdictional control.
The Department's mission is: to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. Aligned with this mission of ensuring equal access to education, the Department of Education is a member of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and works with federal partners to ensure proper education for homeless and runaway youth in the United States.