“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers…”
- The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 2.
As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, our nation gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The framers of the Constitution of the United States chose population to be the basis for sharing political power, not wealth or land. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment) and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.
The next census in 2020 will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population of around 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units. To get an accurate count, the Census Bureau must build an accurate address list of every housing unit, maximize self-response to the census, and efficiently follow up with those who do not respond.
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- San José Counts – The City of San José's Census Office
- California Neighborhoods Count – A research study funded by the State of California that aims to get population counts in communities throughout the state.
- Count Us In 2020 – Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all.
- Most U.S. adults intend to participate in 2020 census, but some demographic groups aren’t sure
- Outspending Every Other State On The Census, California Starts Its Own Count Too
- American Fact Finder – "American FactFinder" (AFF) provides access to data about the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Island Areas. The data in AFF come from several censuses and surveys including the decennial census, the American Community Survey, the American Housing Survey, and the Economic Census. This page provides links to tutorials on finding ancestry, median income, educational attainment, race and ethnicity, and community data.
- Census Business Builder – The Census Business Builder (CBB) is a suite of services that provide selected demographic and economic data from the Census Bureau tailored to specific types of users in a simple to access and use format.
- San José Public Library 2020 Census Resources – All San José Public Library locations will offer a Census station equipped with computers and information for you to access.
This toolkit is just a framework for facilitating an SJ Engage Circle.
Sample Discussion Questions
- What is the purpose of the census and how often is it taken?
- What are some of the political implications of the census? What might the numbers it reports be contested or controversial?
- How do you feel about being counted? Do you think it is important that communities of which you are a part are accurately represented in the survey? Why or why not?
- In the past, government officials have aimed for the widest possible participation in the census and have tried to reassure vulnerable communities that participation would in no way put them in danger. What do you think was the rationale behind this practice?
- Adding a citizenship question to the census might result in a less accurate count. What do you think about this? How might having a less precise sense of the U.S. population affect us? Explain your position.
Common Core: ELA Writing
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.9 – Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards: Diversity
- DI.9-12.6 – I interact comfortably and respectfully with all people, whether they are similar to or different from me.
This project has been made possible in part by a grant from Silicon Valley Community Foundation.