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This week, tens of thousands of teachers at schools across the country -- from kindergarten through high school -- will teach about Census 2000 and how children can help make sure their parents or guardians fill out and return their census forms.
"Teach Census Week" coincides with the mailing of census questionnaires to nearly 100 million housing units nationwide -- about 83 percent of the total. Census Bureau enumerators deliver the forms to the remaining 20 million housing units.
"Teach Census Week" (March 13-17) is designed to get people, particularly those in hard-to-count areas, to take part in the census. More than 1.5 million teacher kits have been shipped to participating schools. In addition, schools have received take-home exercises that children can do with their parents or other adults in the household. The Census Bureau also provided instructional materials for Head Start centers and adult ESL/literacy programs.
"In 1990," said Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt, "some people did not record the children in their households on their census questionnaires. The hope is that this program, Census in Schools, will ensure that in 2000 every child is counted.
"This program also is an ideal way to teach people -- through children's school lessons -- about the importance of including everyone living in their household on the census forms."
As a result of Census in Schools, many schools have undertaken extracurricular activities to spread the census message.
"The program has had an impact beyond our expectations," Prewitt said, citing the example of a middle school in Pinson, Ala., whose students became so excited about the census that they created posters for local businesses and raised money for a billboard urging people to fill out their forms.
The Census in Schools teaching kits include a take-home letter for students to deliver to their parents or guardians. The letter about the importance of an accurate census comes in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Korean. Other materials include a five-question quiz for parents and a census maze, which children and adults do together.
The Census in Schools teaching guide contains lesson plans on map literacy, community involvement and information management. Kits are designed for grades K-4, 5-8 and 9-12.
Tailored teaching kits were sent to schools in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Educators may find information about the Census in Schools program on the Census Bureau's Web site http://www.census.gov; click on Census 2000, then Census in Schools. The Census Bureau contracted with Scholastic Inc., a publisher of children's books, supplemental teaching materials and core curriculum, to develop the teaching materials, most of which can be downloaded from the Census Bureau's Web site.
The Census Bureau needs the help of local residents to conduct Census 2000. Job opportunities include census taker positions in communities and neighborhoods and office work. A large number of part-time positions are available. For more information on census jobs in your area, call toll-free 1-888-325-7733. The Census Bureau guarantees that the answers given on census forms are kept strictly confidential. Information collected in Census 2000 will provide local area data needed for communities to receive federal program funds and for private sector and community planning.