It is impossible to overstate the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census to the well-being of students and the strength of public education.
The 2020 U.S. Census and public education
Moultrie County students, in rural East-Central Illinois, benefit from the census. The extent of this benefit depends on counting every person who lives in our county. The federal government uses census results to allocate billions of dollars in education funds to the states.
The states then distribute these funds to local schools, which includes schools in Moultrie County. They typically apply formulas for distribution levels that factor in population and income levels.
An accurate census count in Moultrie County is essential because our participation in the 2020 Census helps our educators address the needs of every child. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts our census only once every ten years. Thus, when we undercount young children, the consequences can affect them through much of their school years.
Why is the 2020 Census so critical for students and educators in public schools?
Although we may not realize it, census results determine the federal government’s distribution of:
- More than $14 billion in Title I grants that help schools serve more than 24 million students from low-income families;
- Approximately $11.3 billion in special education grants to the states;
- About $13.6 billion for the National School Lunch Program;
- Plus funds for the Head Start preschool program and grants to improve teacher quality.
Additionally, more than 130 critical government programs use census results to allocate more than $675 billion. These programs primarily serve low-income families. For example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of children and has lasting benefits for their health and academic success.
When we fail to count someone who resides in Moultrie County, it becomes more challenging to meet the needs that exist in our communities. Specifically, the schools our children attend will be underfunded. Moreover, the lack of financial resources can negatively impact all Moultrie County students.
How does an undercount adversely affect Moultrie County students?
When children and their families in Moultrie County go uncounted, our children are the losers. Why? Because it results in our schools and communities losing financial resources needed to help support our children’s success and well-being.
Overall, children are at high risk of not being counted. The Annie E. Casey Foundation notes that the 2010 census “missed 10 percent of children under the age of five”–that’s more than 2 million kids. The reason for this is because hard-to-count populations include some of our most vulnerable families.
These families include migrants and those who lack financial stability and stable housing, children in shared custody arrangements, and those in households of someone other than their parents. Children ages 0-5* are sometimes undercounted even in “households” with everyone else counted accurately. The most common explanation for this undercount is that the adult filling out the form is unaware they can include babies and toddlers.
*If a child living in your home is less than one-year-old, their age for the 2020 Census is “0.”
What can you do to help Moultrie County students?
Talk to family, friends, and coworkers about what’s at stake for public schools in the 2020 Census. Encourage them to participate so that Moultrie County students will not lose educational funds due to an undercount.
Also, please encourage your child’s teacher(s) to check out the Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools website. The site provides learning materials and resources for learning more about the 2020 Census. What’s more, it includes lesson plans, maps, historical data, coloring pages, quizzes, word finds, and much more.
Finally, the most important way you can help is to participate in the 2020 Census now. Your efforts to accurately count those living in your household will directly benefit our schools throughout Moultrie County. Your participation will help your schools shape the future of the children in your community for the next decade.