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Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite Stresses the Importance of 2020 Census

  • In Wake of COVID-19, Completing the 2020 Census as Important as Ever

    By William R. Hite Jr., Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia


    As superintendents and school boards across the nation continue to help children learn during the COVID-19 pandemic, the vital role that schools play in students’ lives has never been clearer. We are doing all we can to continue to educate students and meet their basic needs from a distance. But we know that their lives have been severely disrupted and that many families are suffering economic setbacks.

    Census Logo The pandemic is highlighting the many vital services that school districts provide to students, such as free breakfast and lunch, health services, and much more. That’s why it’s as important as ever that we continue to encourage everyone to be counted in the 2020 Census, which is now underway. Responding to the 2020 Census is easy and safe, and questionnaires can be completed at my2020census.gov, available in English and 12 other languages. 

    Our responses to the census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed to communities like ours every year for the next 10 years. This includes funding for Title I schools, student meals, teacher training, special education, and after-school programs. William R. Hite Jr., Superintendent, School District of Philadelphia

    Even while school buildings are closed, we can remind families about the importance of the 2020 Census in shaping their futures. We can let them know that the Statistics in Schools program has fun and engaging resources, including videos for all ages, and pre-K materials such as storybooks and songs that can help keep kids entertained and learning. We can also share this SIS information flyer, which is available in English and 12 additional languages and can be easily distributed via email, to help our families learn about the importance of the 2020 Census and how to count every child in their home. 

    Although circumstances have changed over the past several weeks, my school district’s commitment to a complete count remains. We laid a solid foundation before schools closed. We created a corps of census champions—more than 100 teachers, administrators, and students who attended orientations to learn what the 2020 Census is, why it is so important, how to talk about it, and where to direct anyone interested in more information. Everybody Counts image

    In addition, officials from the Philly Counts 2020 office met with student leaders so that they, in turn, could talk to other students and adults in their communities about responding to the census. The sessions helped clear up several misperceptions. Students learned that all census responses are confidential and are used only to produce statistics. These statistics inform the allocation of federal dollars and the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

    I urge you to share the online educational materials described above with your students and families. It’s a great way to encourage a complete count in the 2020 Census. When it comes to supporting our students’ needs, every dollar counts—now more than ever.