The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy recently issued our “Census Community Challenge” in the spirit of Bedlam to encourage local towns and cities to initiate competition between rival communities.
The cities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City have been doing something similar for several months. It has helped the effort: as of Monday, June 8, Oklahoma City had an estimated 59.7% response rate, while Tulsa had 57.8%. Currently, the national response rate is at 60.7%, with Oklahoma as a whole showing a 54.2% rate, which is 44th in the nation.
Participation in the census is vital as it means federal dollars coming to Oklahoma at an estimated $1,700 per person per year for ten years for programs funded by population numbers. Census participation helps keep state taxes at a lower rate. By answering the census, you protect federal funding for programs such as SoonerCare, Title I schools, as well as for road and bridge construction and maintenance.
We hope communities with local school rivals will take up this challenge. Last week, OICA emailed every school administrator and teacher in the state. We asked them to work on this over the summer and have an official competition with the beginning of the new school year in August and announce the winner at the basketball game between the rivals in the next season. We are working with the Oklahoma Municipal League to involve the mayors and municipal councils to work with the local school district also. We have asked the superintendent or the mayor to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know of the official challenge locally.
We also need your help to reach out to your school and government officials to encourage them to take this seriously. To make it more interesting, OICA will donate a cash award to the school district with the best improvement in census response from when the challenge began last month. We hope this helps students understand they also should join; students should also be counted in the census.
So you know, the deadline for responding to the census has been delayed. Census self-response will end October 31, instead of the original date of July 31. Many households in Oklahoma have not received paperwork through the mail or by drop-off at doorsteps yet. If you do not want to wait, you can go to https://my2020census.gov/ and respond online without your Census ID. Visit the online form and select “Start Questionnaire.” Below the ID field, choose the link that says, “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.”
If you prefer to visit with someone from the US Census via phone, you can call one of their customer service representatives. They are available every day from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern Time on the following phone lines:
Or for another language, go to https://2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html for that list of numbers.
For a list of where each Oklahoma community and county ranks, go to https://public.tableau.com/profile/us.census.bureau#!/vizhome/2020CensusSelf-ResponseRankings/RankingsDashboard and click Oklahoma in the “select a state” box to show those results. Together, we hope to have fun with the challenge and make a difference for Oklahoma by ensuring everyone is counted!
This week’s child advocate is the Honorable Ben Robinson. The sponsored statistic is: In the most recent data available, Oklahoma ranked 8th nationally for instructional days lost due to out-of-school suspensions for African-American students.