By Len Feldman
California can win its fair share of more than $400 billion in federal funding by simply counting.
Every year, the federal government awards that amount — $400 billion — proportionately to California and other states on the basis of population, as determined by the results of the census. The census is the legally required populace count undertaken by the federal government each decade. A significant portion of the funding goes directly to public education, in forms including Title I education appropriations. The funds reflect the population count of every resident, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The count also determines how many members of the House of Representatives each state will have.
Census Bureau representatives note that census information cannot be shared with any other agency, including the Internal Revenue Service or federal law enforcement or immigration officials. In fact, they point out, anyone sharing that information with another agency could be found guilty of a federal crime and sentenced to five years in a federal penitentiary.
“Given California’s desperate financial situation, it’s vital that the state secure every possible dollar by ensuring that every child, woman, or man who resides in the state — regardless of their immigration status — completes census forms,” emphasizes CTA President David A. Sanchez, who serves on the California Complete Count Committee.
Last year alone, 58 counties in California received $1.4 billion in federal education dollars. And that figure doesn’t include other funds that have gone to a wide range of other California programs, including children’s health care, according to census officials.
The Census Bureau reports that, on average, every single individual who completes the census helps their state secure about $1,400 in federal tax revenues each and every year. The 2010 count will establish the population count for this funding. The funding resulting from the census count is not one-time money; it will continue for the next 10 years, compounding to more than $14,000 per person counted.
If California is able to count every resident, the state will also likely gain additional seats in Congress. And that means more elected federal advocates for schools in California.
Census officials have a slogan that sums up the ease of completing the forms and the impact the results will have: “10-10-10.” The form contains just 10 questions and should take only 10 minutes to complete — and its impact will be felt for another 10 years. Census forms will be mailed to all households in March and must be returned by April 15.
To find easy-to-use, content rich, standards-based lesson plans and teaching kits, visit
Top ways you can get involved
- Ask school districts and local schools to post census slogans and messages on their websites.
- Work with history and social science curriculum coordinators to provide standards-based lesson plans in California history, U.S. history, and U.S. government for grades 4, 5, 8, 11, and 12.
- Provide sample classroom writing exercises for students that involve writing letters home on the importance of the census.
- Work with local education agencies and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) to plan Census-in-Schools events.
- Make calls to homes relaying standard census outreach messages. The Census Bureau notes that school-age children are often forgotten when parents and guardians complete the form.
- Work with your local school board to secure passage of resolutions in support of census 2010 outreach efforts. Work with your county, cities, and communities to plan an event for the statewide “Be Californian, Be Counted” Day on Saturday, March 20.
April 15 is the deadline for completing U.S. census forms!
Members want action, organize March 4 events