Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution requires an “enumeration,” a census every ten years,
Representatives … shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons (meaning slaves). The actual Enumeration shall be made … every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct
On April 1, Census Day (minus one year) the Bureau of Census rolled out the plans for the 2020 census. An upbeat presentation by the Bureau of Census, the major change is that the bureau expects a significant percentage of census takers will respond online. The Bureau acknowledges the problem of an undercount, indigenous peoples, the poor, immigrants, hard-to-reach areas all present issues. Watch the presentation here .
The press conference was a lot less upbeat.
The administration budgeted one billion dollars less than requested, and, the major point of contention, a question dealing with citizenship status which could discourage participating in the census.
The citizenship question was challenged in the federal courts and, in a scathing decision the courts sustained the appellants and ruled the question inappropriate,
Plaintiffs proved at trial that, if the citizenship question is added to the 2020 census questionnaire, they will suffer serious harm in the form of lost political representation, lost federal funding, and degradation of information that is an important tool of state sovereignty. And at least two of those injuries, the loss of political representation and the degradation of information would be irreparable, without any adequate remedy at law.
Measured against these standards, Secretary Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census —even if it did not violate the Constitution itself —was unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside. To conclude otherwise and let Secretary Ross’s decision stand would undermine the proposition —central to the rule of law —that ours is a government of law and not of men” (John Adams, Novanglus Papers, No. 7 (1775). And it would do so with respect to what Congress itself has described as “one of the most critical constitutional functions our Federal Government perform” (Read entire decision here.
The question may be decided by the Supreme Court later in the spring.
The Census will determine representation in the House of Representatives, New York State could lose two seats if the undercount is the same as in 2010, and, 55 federal programs are determined by population, New York State could lose a hundred million in federal dollars. New York State receives 1.6 billion in federal education dollars.
Maya Wiley, an MSNBC contributor and a Professor at the New York School University made a troubling presentation.
,The 2020 Census will be the first on-line Census. It is grossly underfunded and the federal administration in Washington has raised significant concerns for immigrants, legal residents and other vulnerable people. The New School’s Digital Equity Laboratory has been working on a project to support greater collaborative work between libraries, community leaders and city governments in the New York region to support a fair and safe Census.
The CUNY Mapping Service lays out the data and the challenges: “low response scores,” population groups with increased risks of being undercounted,” “households with no computer or inadequate internet access,” by neighborhood.
The Bureau of Census, the advocates and the newly appointed New York City Census Director, Julie Menin are planning to work with libraries, and community organization, an excellent plan; however, why aren’t schools at the center of the plan?
I e-communicated with Julie Menin, and did receive a thumbs up.
There are 1800 schools, 1.1 million kids and over 100,000 highly motivated teachers and paraprofessionals. Schools have staff members to match the language of their students, and close relationships with families.
Why isn’t the Department of Education at the center of a census outreach plan?
The teacher union is enthusiastic and understands the vital importance; an undercount means loss of jobs and vital services to children and families.
In addition every high school senior must take a course entitled, “Participation in Government,”
This course aims to provide students with opportunities to become engaged in the political process by acquiring the knowledge and practicing the skills necessary for active citizenship. Content specifications are not included, so that the course can adapt to present local, national, and global circumstances, allowing teachers to select flexibly from current events to illuminate key ideas and conceptual understandings. Participation in government and in our communities is fundamental to the success of American democracy.
The course can engage students in census field work across the city, a powerful tool to maximize participation in the census, a powerful activity to involve students in civics, in real, live activities.
While the census is a year away now is the time to create an inclusive plan.
The Specialized High Schools and the admittance test dominate the news cycle while the census is barely acknowledged.
I hope that State Commissioner Elia instructs her staff to post Census lessons on EngageNY as well as instruct school district leaders to provide census outreach in each and every school in the state.
I expect that Chancellor Carranza will appoint a census coordinator, a vital position considering what’s at stake.