The Thought That Counts
STUDENTS | May 27, 2020
The Thought That Counts

How Students Across the City are Engaging with the 2020 Census

At Social Justice High School in Little Village, civics teacher Mr. Hector Sanchez believes that students are always more engaged learners when they understand the connection between their lives and the ideas presented in the classroom. Drawing out these connections ensures that students have the opportunity to become leaders in their own learning. Thus, when planning ways for students to actively become involve in census advocacy, it was extremely important to him to keep the efforts student-led so students would be able to develop their skill sets by collaborating with each other. 

While tight-knit is one of the words Hector and his students would use when describing Little Village, they also agree that the community is often overlooked. Students have learned how to use their connections within their neighborhood to articulate the important financial implications of the census to their friends and family. 

“I hope people in Little Village take the time to fill out the census because I know our community is really in need of the funding,” said student Samantha J. “Informing people on why the census matters is important because some people might not even know what it is.” 

Social studies teacher Ms. Linsey Rose says that the census is one of the most meaningful topics for her middle school students at STEM Magnet Academy to learn about because they are able to directly participate in being counted. When learning about undercounted populations such as infants, she had each student conduct a census interview with their parents to learn if they were counted as an infant back in 2010. She also encouraged her class to take census selfies when they received their census information in the mail. 

“With topics like voting, there’s an element of not being able to directly participate yet, so the census is so exciting because students have a really tangible way to be involved,” said Ms. Rose. “Our students come from all sorts of backgrounds and it’s so powerful to tell them that their communities should be counted.”

Even though her students from Kelly High School are now working from their bedrooms, social studies teacher Ms. Anna Lane says many of them are still working hard to raise awareness of the importance of the census. When school was still in session, she brought Alma Anaya, a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, to her class to discuss the various ways to engage members of the community. Now, her students are taking everything they’ve learned and turning their efforts to social media. 

“With the pandemic, we see inequities existing more than ever which really shows how much the census matters,” said Ms. Lane. “Our communities need to be invested in, and knowing that, wouldn’t you want to be counted?”