The U.S. established a Department of Education first in 1867. This original department, however, was not a cabinet level agency, and within a few years was replaced with a bureau and then an office.
On October 17, 1979 President James E. Carter signed the Department of Education Organization Act (P.L. 96-88; 93 Stat. 668). It replaced the Office of Education with a department proper, and installed a secretary at its head.