Census: Why It Matters for America’s Children

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Census forms will soon arrive in America’s mailboxes, and the nation’s public school system is counting on those forms for accurate data to inform planning and funding allocations. Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller stressed the importance of the census last month, when he joined Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, and Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau to launch the 2010 Census in Schools program at Bancroft Elementary School in Wilmington.

Census data will directly affect how approximately $26 billion in annual federal education funding is distributed to local, state and tribal governments over the next 10 years, Miller said. Census data informs us of the needs and challenges students might face in their communities and is used to create funding formulas for over 30 formula-grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education that provide services to: students from low-income families; homeless children; migrant students; students with disabilities; Native American students; and English Language Learners.

“In order for this funding allocation to be accomplished fairly and accurately, the decennial census has to count everybody, especially children, who have been undercounted in every census since 1790,” the Deputy Secretary said. “For example, at Bancroft Elementary School, its allocations for services for low-income students are currently based on the census. Assuming that the composition of the student population has changed over the past ten years, federal education funding will be adjusted accordingly. Whether it increases or decreases – the goal is to make sure the dollars provide specialized services for these particular children in need.”

“President Obama’s Goal is that America will have the highest proportion of college graduates of any country by 2020. To accomplish this, we must: Improve student achievement; narrow achievement gaps; increase graduation and college enrollment rates. Census data will play a key role in helping us reach these goals. We stand ready, as an agency, to do all that we can to spread the message to our children, their teachers, school administrators and parents to participate in counting all Americans,” Miller said.

Census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States and Puerto Rico in March. When you receive yours, just answer the 10 short questions and then mail the form back in the postage-paid envelope provided. And remember, We Can’t Move Forward Until You Mail It Back!

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