It’s the year of the 2020 Census, when the U.S. Census Bureau counts everyone living in the United States, including every child. This decennial census provides a special opportunity for educators to teach their students about self-worth, civic engagement, and the value of data—and to promote a complete count that could benefit their schools and students for the next 10 years.
The 2020 Census is critical for students and educators because the count will impact the federal funds that schools receive each year for the next decade or special education, Head Start, classroom technology, teacher training, after-school programs, school lunch assistance, and more. It will also impact funds for community services that influence student readiness for learning, such as maternal and child health programs and assistance with housing, heating, and food costs.
Obtaining a complete count of children, however, can be challenging. The Census Bureau estimated that 1 million children under age 5— 5% of that age group—were not counted in the 2010 Census. Often, children are missed because they are in complex living situations. For example, they may not live in the same home as their parents, or they may divide their time between two homes. They may live with large, extended families or with multiple families under one roof.
Help Ensure a Complete Count of Your Students and Their Families
By April 1, 2020, every home will have received an invitation to respond the 2020 Census. Teachers are in a prime position to educate students and the adults in their home about the importance of responding and counting everyone who lives with them, including every child.
To help teachers provide this education to students and families, the Census Bureau operates the Statistics in Schools (SIS) program. SIS offers free classroom materials for students in pre-K through 12th grade that incorporate census data. These materials give life to topics like women in the workforce and 19th century immigration They can be used to supplement lesson plans in nearly any subject and at any level, from the basics of counting and comparing to the application of data for making real-world decisions.
New SIS materials created specifically for 2020 are designed to educate students and the adults in their home about the importance of completing the 2020 Census and counting everyone. These materials include classroom activities, maps, videos, Spanish-language materials, and a song and storybook for the youngest students.
The activities encourage students to talk about the census at home. There are also materials, like this take-home flyer, for teachers to send directly to parents or other adults in the home.
The opportunity to have this kind of impact will not come again until the next decennial census in 2030. By that time, today’s kindergartners will be in high school.
Use Census Data to Enhance Learning in Your Classroom
It has never been more important for students to learn how to find, understand, and use statistics. By giving students the opportunity to develop the statistical literacy they need for a data-driven world, teachers help them prepare for future schooling and careers.
For example, employment of mathematicians and statisticians is projected to grow 30% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.
But data can be used to enhance learning in any subject, and statistical literacy skills are needed in many everyday activities. The Census Bureau is a huge repository of real-life data that teachers can use to:
- Show students how they can apply math and statistics to make decisions and identify important changes in their community and country.
- Give students a deeper understanding of historic events like the Missouri Compromise.
- Highlight geography’s impact on communities and lives.
- Provide additional perspectives on topics like migration, modern families, and poverty.
- Teach students how to explain, evaluate, infer, persuade, and compare.
Statistics in Schools is one resource for these types of activities, providing free and engaging classroom activities created by teachers, for teachers to support existing lesson plans. Teachers don’t need any special understanding of statistics to use SIS, and each downloadable activity includes a list of materials, a student worksheet, and easy-to-follow teacher directions.