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Census 2010: It’s In Your Hands

July 6, 2009

Executive Committee member Len Paolillo urges delegates to become "Census partners" at the 88th Representative Assembly.

Photo by Scott Iskowitz for RA Today

Who counts? The ones who get counted, that's who.

“How would you like to get a 10 to 1 pay-off guaranteed?” Executive Committee member Len Paolillo asked RA delegates on Saturday. “If we work as an organization to make sure everybody is counted, it’ll pay off for the next 10 years," through equitable funding and specific program support.

That's a bet delegates were eager to take.

On Saturday, the Representative Assembly passed NBI D, instructing NEA to take specific actions to ensure that Census 2010 be done fairly and accurately. Among those actions, it called for targeted assistance to schools near "hard to count" census tracts, especially where families might not speak English, and it also encourages state and local affiliates to become "Census partners" and even create opportunities for current and retired educators to become enumerators.The NBI called for NEA to work cooperatively with allied coalitions like the Learning First Alliance to promote media coverage and local events; create Web site templates with fact sheets and other Census information; supply materials to NEA leadership conferences; and conduct a midterm evaluation.

NEA is already partnering with the Census Bureau to publicize the Census In Schools (CIS) program. In September, 2009, CIS materials – lesson pans and other curriculum materials – are to be mailed to every public school across the country to help educators, students, and the community become key players in ensuring a complete count.

Why the fuss? You may already know that the Census numbers determine Congressional representation and state legislative districts, "but that's not all!" Paolillo exclaimed. "Federal dollars for our schools and students are allocated based on the number of people in each school district... the federal government allocates over $300 billion each year — $300 billion! — to states and communities based on Census data. Over 10 years, that's an amazing $3 trillion."

Among the many programs the Census affects are Title 1 and special education grants, plus college tuition grants and loan programs, not to mention Eisenhower state professional development grants, Native American employment and training programs, funding for senior centers and services to domestic violence and child victims.

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