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Interview with Victoria R. Glasier, Chief of the Census Bureau's Statistics in Schools Program

Thank you for joining us today! Could you tell us a little about your role at the U.S. Census Bureau?

I lead the Statistics in Schools program at the U.S. Census Bureau.

What is the Statistics in Schools program and how did the program start?

Since 1950, the Census Bureau has had some sort of outreach effort around the decennial census to the educational community.  In between censuses, we often worked with teachers on finding data that they could use in the classroom. After the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau decided to keep the education program going in order to be a reliable and consistent resource for teachers as well as promote statistical literacy among students.

Why is the Census important for the country and particularly for U.S. schools?

The Census is important because it will determine congressional representation, inform hundreds of billions in federal funding, and provide data that will impact communities for the next decade.  The Constitutional basis for conducting the decennial census of population is to reapportionment (the process of dividing the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states according to each state’s population).

Over the next decade, lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use the 2020 Census data to make critical decisions. The results will show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

The results will also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

An accurate count of ALL children is critical for educators and their students and local organizations that serve children because 2020 Census responses drive decisions about the distribution of federal funds for programs such as:

  • Special education
  • Free and reduced-price lunch
  • Class sizes
  • Classroom technology
  • Teacher training
  • After-school programs
  • Head Start
  • Playgrounds and public parks
  • Public transportation

Our hope is that once teachers understand the importance of the 2020 Census and how it relates directly to what they do every day, they will want to get involved.

What can students learn from the Census?

Using Census data empowers students to understand their community and country as well as fosters statistical literacy, which is increasingly important in today’s data-driven world.

The 2020-specific materials all highlight why it is so important that everyone is counted in the 2020 Census.  By educating children about the importance of being counted, we empower them to share that message with an adult in their home who will complete the census.

By the next census, children now in kindergarten will be in high school. This is a once-in-a-decade chance to help make sure they have what they need to be successful.

What advice would you give to teachers who are interested in teaching about the Census?

SIS provides free, classroom-ready materials that make statistics interactive, relevant, and timely in a variety of subjects and all grade levels.  We don’t want teachers to hear the word “statistics” and think of high school math class.  We want them to think that data is interesting, fun and can supplement what they are teaching in the classroom.  

Important points:

The resources are free. Teachers can find our resources at census.gov/schools and they are all completely free. There are also over 200 resources so if teachers enjoy using the program, they have plenty of activities and other resources to choose from.

It allows teachers to be community-driven. Many of the SIS activities allow teachers and students to tailor the activity to their local community. For example, students may compare data points in four states, then compare that data to their own state. This keeps students engaged because they are learning about things that are relevant to their lives.

The activities use real census data. Statistical literacy is an important skill for students to develop starting at a young age. With the SIS program, we offer activities and resources for children starting at 2 years old to start introducing them to these concepts. In today’s world, all jobs use data in some way, and so it’s an important skill for students to understand. The SIS program makes it easy for any teacher to incorporate statistics into their lesson plans in a grade-appropriate way for their students.

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