A U.S. Census bureau campaign for schools is encouraging teachers to use the classroom as a way to help their neighborhood come out for the 2010 census. The curriculum instructs students to launch media and activism campaigns within their communities. The campaign launches on Monday, Nov. 2, at a Baltimore High School, according to a Census Bureau news advisory  (full text below).
While the Bureau says that these activities are free and optional for teachers of K-12, the advisory says that the program will reach every school in the nation. “The program is designed for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and will reach all 118,000 schools and 56 million students nationwide,” states the Oct. 29 media advisory.
USA Today reported on this in August . “The goal is to send posters, teaching guides, maps and lesson plans to every school in the nation, Puerto Rico and U.S. island territories to encourage everyone to participate in the national count. The materials will land in more than 118,000 schools and reach 56 million students,” reported Haya El Nasser on August 26. Also, “…the kits and lessons will arrive in every school and lesson plans can be downloaded online, where they will be available in 28 languages.”
Let’s hope the people who wrote this curriculum are not the same ones who wrote the lesson plans preceding President Obama’s national address to students.
A look at the curriculum, which is available through Scholastic.com , shows that much of the lesson plan calls for teachers to get students active “creating campaigns to educate your community about the upcoming 2010 Census.” (All bolding and italics for the curriculum occur in the original text).
The “Action Extension” in Lesson 1 for Grades 5-6 has students go home and encourage their parents to participate in the 2010 Census.
“1. Action Extension
Now that students understand what the census is, challenge them to accompany an adult to a town or school meeting to encourage participation in the 2010 Census. Invite them to design special posters, bumper stickers, or buttons, as well as present the local information they researched. They may want to attend an informational meeting in your area sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau.”
The 7th and 8th grade lesson plan  goes farther by telling teachers to help the Census Bureau get greater response rates this coming year. “Introduce this lesson by explaining: From 1970 to 1990, the public’s response rate for the census declined from 78 percent to 65 percent. In 2000, 67 percent of the households in the United States participated in the census. The Census Bureau is hoping for a greater return in 2010. You can help,” it states.
As part of this lesson students are told create Census-related “campaigns to educate your community about the upcoming 2010 Census” and to distribute the “Community Power Student Worksheet 3a . Have students complete Part 1 and share results with the class.”
The curriculum also tells teachers to “have students write slogans or statements that would encourage people to participate” and to “monitor the results of their community’s response rate online at www.census.gov  in March and April of 2010.” Coordination with regional census bureaus is encouraged.
From Part 3 of Student worksheet 3a, “Community Power”:
“Now work with the members of your group and brainstorm ways to help convince people in your community about the importance of the census.”
Student Worksheet 3b instructs students to “develop an information campaign about the 2010 Census” and “Select a method to share your information such as: presentations at a PTA/PTO meeting, presentation software, web page, blogs, radio or television announcements, or newspaper editorials.”
The full text of the advisory follows.
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia .
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, OCT. 29, 2009
Public Information Office
e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org >
**CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY**
Census Bureau to Launch 2010 Census in Schools Program Nationwide
Commerce Secretary Locke and Census Bureau Director Groves
Visit Baltimore High School
What: Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves will visit a Baltimore High School to launch the 2010 “Census in Schools” program and discuss educational activities that examine the importance of the 2010 Census.
The program, “2010 Census: It’s About Us,” gives schools a wide range of free, optional, standards-based lesson plans on subjects related to the census, ranging from math to social studies. The program is designed for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and will reach all 118,000 schools and 56 million students nationwide.
When: Monday, Nov. 2, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EST)
Who: Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce
Dr.Robert Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau
Anthony G. Brown, Maryland lieutenant governor
John Smeallie, deputy state superintendent for
administration, Maryland State Department of Education
Where: Digital Harbor High School
1100 Covington Street
Baltimore, MD 21230-4124
Please RSVP by 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30 to the Public Information Office at 301-763-3466.