Census Bureau Takes Attendance April 1
By John Rosales
Wednesday, March 24, 20101 -- The gulf that separates one school district from another can be measured by income levels, property taxes, unemployment and poverty rates. Over the next few weeks, as National Census Day (April 1) approaches, another vital measurement comes into play: the return rate of Census 2010 forms.
Government officials are urging residents to complete and mail in the forms by April 1 in order for the bureau to get an accurate population count and to take what is being called, “A Snapshot of America.”
“It’s not a deadline,” says Laura Waldon, a partnership specialist with the Census Bureau. “It’s the day the bureau refers to when it asks what our households, and the nation as a whole, looks like on this date.”
Those who do not fill out the questionnaire in a timely manner will likely get a visit between May and July from a census taker. In December, bureau officials are scheduled to deliver a population count to the White House.
Census figures are used to determine the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives and of more than $400 billion annually in federal aid for hospitals, roads, schools and playgrounds.
For teachers, students and parents, an accurate population count will ensure that school resources in their area — from buses to books — reflect current student enrollment figures. The next opportunity to get counted and qualify for this funding is Census 2020. Census numbers impact more than 50 federal programs, especially Title 1 and special education grants, and college tuition grants and loan programs.
“It’s a civic duty,” Waldon says. “Turning in your census form is something as important as voting.”
The government’s push for a high response rate includes streamlining census forms to 10 questions, producing an extensive advertising campaign, and establishing Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC), Be Counted sites, and Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Center numbers in various languages. Below are the center’s language selections and numbers:
TDD 1-866-783-2010 (hearing impaired)
Puerto Rico 1-866-939-2010 (English)
Puerto Rico 1-866-929-2010 (Spanish)
Through April 19, Be Counted questionnaires will be available in public locations, such as libraries, and at QACs where census workers will be available to answer questions. QAC locations are posted at http://2010.census.gov/2010census.
Work on the 2010 Census has been under way at NEA since last September. Since last fall, K-12 schools across the country have been using lessons plans mailed to principals by the bureau. Educators can download lessons as well as maps, historical data, coloring pages, and quizzes at the Census in Schools Web site. For higher education materials, see Census on Campus.
Learn more about how NEA members are helping with Census 2010