Census Bureau to Kids: Tell Your Parents We Won't Tell INS

While illegal immigrants send families back to Mexico as the heralded stimulus fails to stimulate the economy, and while tea party participants make their voices heard through elections of Republicans, fat and happy government workers continue in their missions of padding electoral rolls for Democrats. Among these are Census Bureau officials, who are scheduled to spend $133 million between January and May to get people to fill out their forms arriving in March.

Among the outreach efforts is the Census in Schools program, aimed at getting students to serve as go-betweens for the Census Bureau and parents (with educational materials as a bonus). One of these events included Bancroft Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware, where students last month donned Census 2010 t-shirts and were visited by Sesame Street characters; Democrat Senator Tom Carper; Governor Jack Markell; Anthony W. Miller, deputy secretary of the Department of Education; and Robert M. Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Earlier this month, Florida Governor Charlie Crist launched the Census in Schools program in North Miami.

I tried to visit such program activities in Georgia. When I first talked to Pamela Page-Bellis of the Atlanta Regional Census Center, she enthused over the phone that some schools hold “full-fledged large events,” while others just take advantage of Census Bureau curricula. She would get me some information about activities at Atlanta-area schools, she promised. Then she asked me which publication I wrote for. She did not return subsequent phone calls.

The Census Bureau offers school principals with curriculum materials in social studies and math. But principals are also enjoined to “use social studies, English language arts, math, and mapping skills to educate students about the census.” The Census Bureau openly states that its curriculum “seeks to enlist students as advocates for participation in the 2010 census, in their homes and communities, especially in communities that might otherwise be undercounted or overlooked and, as a result may lose out on a wide range of benefits” (emphases retained). Read: federal aid, especially for illegal immigrants.

In November, the Census Bureau sent representatives to the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in Atlanta, one of the many efforts of political and ideological groups there. Census Bureau representatives also visited the meetings of the National Alliance of Black School Educators and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Assembled social studies teachers earning graduate or continuing education credit heard from the Census Bureau’s Linda Bennett that it’s a matter of money from the feds: schools that want money for programs for non-English-speaking students need an accurate count of such students -- confidentiality guaranteed. Bennett went to great pains to describe the measures taken at every level of the bureaucratic chain to ensure that Census Bureau officials do not obtain identification of respondents, much less pass it on to immigration officials. Such assurances about confidentiality are repeated in the letter sent home with students. (But while the feds have put their efforts into educating students about keeping parents safe from immigration officials, they seem not to have done such a good job in ensuring that census canvassers do not have criminal records.)