Guest Editorial by the New York State School Boards Association
An accurate 2020 census count is crucial to helping New York obtain its fair share of education funding from the federal government over the next decade, according to a new report by the New York State School Boards Association.
"The census has significant implications for public schools," NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider said. "The data help determine how billions of federal education dollars are distributed, since funding formulas rely heavily on population and poverty levels."
Since federal education funding is determined largely by census data, an accurate count is necessary to ensure adequate levels of aid for the 10-year period beginning in 2020. NYSSBA’s report, called "Stand Up and Be Counted," determined New York’s elementary and secondary schools received an estimated $2.6 billion in federal education funding during 2019 alone.
The report found two key factors threaten the accuracy of census data. The first is undercounting, especially of children. In the 2010 census, children aged 0-17 were undercounted by nearly 1.3 million.
The second is undercounting of undocumented immigrants, of which there were an estimated 1 million in New York in 2017. Undocumented immigrants may avoid participating in the census out of fear that federal immigration authorities may separate them from their families or deport them.
The report describes a number of key ways school boards can increase awareness and participation in the census:
•Spread information about the census through social media platforms and districtwide newsletters.
•Add “Census 2020” to every board meeting agenda.
•Partner with local parent-teacher associations to stress the importance of the census.
•Incorporate census information in civics education lessons.
•Seek appointment to "complete count committees," which are volunteer committees that may be established by local governments and community groups to design and implement census awareness campaigns and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 census.
The New York State School Boards Association represents more than 670 school boards and more than 5,200 school board members in New York. NYSSBA provides advocacy, training and information to school boards in support of their mission to govern the state's public schools.