2020 Census and Historical Controversy: Lesson Plans and Activities
Every 10 years, the Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution calls for a census to be conducted. Also known as the Population and Housing Census, the Decennial U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States.This information is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives and also determines how the federal funds are distributed throughout the United States.
The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation, and helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities. It is also used to draw the lines of legislative districts and reapportion the seats each State holds in Congress.
The 2010 Census represented the most massive participation movement ever witnessed in our country. Approximately 74 percent of the households returned their census forms by mail; the remaining households were counted by census workers walking neighborhoods throughout the United States.
In 2019, the census was wrapped in controversy, as President Trump wished to ask questions about census participants' citizenship. The Supreme Court determined that this question could not be asked, however, and a federal judge issued an order to definitively stop the question from being asked on the 2020 Census.
You can find more information about the census here and in the America Counts blog. You also may like this history of the census in Alaska, via the U.S. Census Bureau. Explore detailed lesson plans, blogs, webinars and additional teaching activities here.
Find more resources in our Elections and Democracy collection.