Students Reminding Their Parents that Every Texan Counts

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - From huge ad campaigns to catchy jingles, it's not a secret the government is pulling out all the stops to get you to fill out the 2010 Census.

This year, census workers are even recruiting kids to get parents to participate.

"Fill it out send it back. 10, 10, 10," chanted an auditorium full of Noel Elementary students Tuesday afternoon.

After a school assembly, the students went home on a mission to talk about the census.

"I've selected elementary schools in our low to enumerate or low to count areas," Census Partnership Specialist, Charlene Romero-McBride, said. "These are tracked areas where we know that we are going to have challenges in having people respond to the questionnaire. So my whole focus is to educate the students to help their parents."

She says they're visiting about 50 elementary schools in West Texas.

When Romero-McBride told the kids, "There's a very slim chance you were counted in 2000," she immediately got their attention.

They were excited to learn the census tallies everyone in the U.S., and helps their school and community get state and federal funding, but they know more than just the basics.

"I learned a lot from it," 6th Grader, Ram'z Leyva, said. "How it started and when it did, who was the first one to do it and how long it's going to go on. And they're going to do one every 10 years."

Just in case the kids forget, some of the stuff they learned they get to take home a plastic bag with both English and Spanish census information to answer any questions parents may have.

Ram'z says he learned a lot, but his mom already filled out their survey.

"She was about to turn it in," he said. "But luckily I was there and she showed me."

Romero-McBride hopes Ram'z's classmates' families will follow suit.

She said, "If we want to reach that 75 percent, which is what I would like to reach on the mail response rate; we've got a lot of kids who have to help out their parents in filling that form out."