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Posted at 9:39 AM ET, 03/ 8/2010

Why the Census is important

By Valerie Strauss

When you get your U.S. Census form in the mail this month and wonder whether you should take the time to fill it out, remember this: The results matter a lot--billions of dollars worth--to public schools across the country.

The federal government will distribute $26 billion every year over the next 10 years to local, state and tribal governments for more than 30 programs administered by the Education Department.

Those programs--which are funded based on census data--help, in part, students who are from low-income or migrant families, are homeless, have disabilities, are Native American or English-language learners. There also is a program that funds grants to improve teacher quality.

Census data is also used to help draw school district boundaries, determine were new schools are built and much more.

Children have been undercounted in every U.S. Census taken since 1790, Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller said recently.

So go ahead, fill out the form. It matters to them.

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By Valerie Strauss  | March 8, 2010; 9:39 AM ET
Tags:  U.S. Census, census forms  
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