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 Mike Byrnes & Assoc. , Inc. Names the Department of Education as Bumper To Bumper® People of the Month for October, 2009


Of course you've heard of the rules of the road. But who makes those rules? This year we've been profiling the different agencies contributing to the regulations that govern and impact commercial vehicle driving. Earlier this year we profiled the DOT, the NHTSA, the AAMVA, the FMCSA, the AASHTO, the FHWA and the CARB. You can find all those profiles in our Article Archives. This month Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc., highlights the Department of Education.

Transportation isn't the only thing that's regulated in this country. So is education. Education is regulated by the U.S. Department of Education. The USED was created in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. This agency's mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. It aims to do this by:
• Establishing policies on federal financial aid for education, and distributing as well as monitoring those funds.
•Collecting data on America's schools and disseminating research.
• Focusing national attention on key educational issues.
• Prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education.

Education is primarily a state and local responsibility in the United States. States and communities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds, establish schools and colleges, develop curricula and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. Education is financed largely by state, local and private sources. Overall, the federal government contributes a little under 8 percent and some of this comes from deparments other than Education. At various times, the federal government has made guaranteed student loan and grant money available for vocational as well as for academic education.

Vocational schools, also known as trade schools or career schools, are schools in which students are taught the skills needed to perform a particular job, like truck driving.

Traditionally, vocational schools have not existed to further education but rather to teach only job-specific skills. As such, they've been considered to be institutions devoted to training, not education. But that purely vocational focus began changing in the 1990s to offer a broader preparation that includes some academic content as well as purely technical or vocational.

Truck driver training programs are usually considered post-secondary schools. They may be public, such as truck driver training programs conducted at a community college. Those are supported largely by taxpayer dollars. It's the local community, through boards of education, that decides if a truck driver training program will benefit the community, and if that's a good use for those taxpayer dollars. Regulation ensures that the public's money isn't misused.

Other truck driving schools are private. Private truck driver training schools are usually proprietary schools. That is, they're usually not non-profit, and the owners do need to do more than simply cover the expenses of operating the school. For a long time many proprietary vocational schools had a poor reputation for quality in many instances, and for over promising what the job prospects for their graduates would actually be. Regulation has gone far to correct this. Vocational schools are often regulated by a state consumer affairs agency.

You can find out more about education regulation at the Web site and by visiting the Web sites of the Department of Education and the Department of Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education in your state.