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Author: NSPRA Staff/Wednesday, September 25, 2019/Categories: News
Data from the decennial census, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every 10 years, has a powerful impact on the future of our communities and their voice in Congress. Before the 2020 Census begins in March of next year, school systems can prepare their community to participate by helping residents understand the local impact of a national census and the importance of a complete count – particularly for their schools.
NSPRA encourages school public relations professionals to use the following resources, gathered by its Communication Equity and Diversity Task Force, to build greater understanding now of the 2020 Census.
Why is the census count important for schools?
Undercounting in a census can lead a state to have lower levels of funding and underrepresentation in Congress. States with high numbers of hard-to-count groups such as those in rural areas, on Native lands and in highly populated minority communities have had historic undercounts of the total population.
Several factors are leading to predictions of a larger-than-normal undercount for the 2020 Census:
The 2020 Census will likely determine future funding for programs in your school system, so building understanding of the census is a natural goal for school communicators.
Plan now for a multi-tiered communication strategy that will periodically share fact-based information in the months leading up to and during the census, in the major languages of your community. Consider the communication preferences of your staff, parents and other stakeholders when deciding how best to deploy all of the communication tools available to your system: district and school websites, student backpacks, open house events, parent-teacher conferences, district apps, automated notification system emails, print and digital newsletters, social media, video channels, etc.
Be sure to set some evaluative measures to determine whether your plan worked; comparing your community’s 2010 Census and 2020 Census participation rates is one easy measure.
The U.S. Census Bureau and a variety of non-profit organizations have provided resources to assist with communications about the 2020 Census. Review the resources below, including several from NSPRA members, to determine which can inform your census communication plan.
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