Be counted 

Students deliver message that completing census forms is easy, safe and important.

March 15, 2010

U.S. Census forms have started arriving in households across the United States, and Chicago Public Schools students have been learning about the importance of the national population headcount which occurs once every 10 years.


This week (March 15-19) marks Census in Schools Week, but CPS’s involvement in the national census effort began several months ago with a kickoff press conference at Dr. Martin Luther King College Prep High School.


The event -- attended by Mayor Richard M. Daley, CPS Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman, other city and CPS officials and representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau -- underlined the importance of the census and announced CPS’s commitment to Census in Schools, the national initiative to engage students throughout the country in the census.


Through Census in Schools, age- and grade-appropriate lessons were made available to educators via the U.S. Census Bureau. Resources provided through this initiative aim to teach students about the importance of the census so children can help deliver this message to their families.


CPS has played an active and important role in the city’s determination to achieve a complete count, said Chicago Board of Education Vice President Clare Muñana, who is also co-chairperson for the City of Chicago, 2010 Census Complete Count Committee.


“CPS, like school districts all over the country, was asked to educate our students on the importance of the national census,” Muñana said. “This is an extremely important effort for all of us, and with curriculum guides and lessons made available to us through the U.S. Census Bureau – as well as through our own Service Learning program – our school district has responded admirably.”


Along with the various lesson options, the census message has centered on three key points:


  • The census is important. Every year, up to$400 billion in federal funds are awarded to states and local communities for schools, transportation, social services and hospitals based on data from the census.
  • Filling out a census form is safe. By law, the U.S. Census Bureau cannot share individual answers with anyone, including federal, state and local agencies (including immigration agencies and law enforcement entities).
  • The form is easy to complete. Every resident will receive a short questionnaire with only 10 questions that is fast and simple to complete and mail back.


In addition to utilizing Census in Schools resources, students at more than 30 CPS high schools throughout the city have engaged in census-related Service Learning projects.


Students who are part of the Service Learning effort have been developing campaigns aimed at ensuring the complete count of all family members of students in their school, said Jon Schmidt, CPS Service Learning manager.


Some of the schools exercised great creativity in their efforts, Schmidt said. For example, a Kelly High School student created rap lyrics around the importance of census; also, a team of Prosser High School students developed a decorative bench with a census theme.


“Students are looking for opportunities to apply their education in meaningful ways,” Schmidt said, “After learning about the census and its importance, and the fact that it is constitutionally mandated, students understand that the census means dollars and political power. They are prepared and excited to promote a full count in their schools and communities.”


If census forms are returned by April 1, a home visit by a U.S. Census Bureau representative will not be necessary.


Learn more about CPS and the 2010 Census.


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Photo by D. Saradin.