Trouble Brewing in California
The following is a letter from the state of California’s 2010 Census office to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in Washington. (In other related news, 2010 Census boycotts have kick-started in California):
September 28, 2009
Director Katague Sends Letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Locke on Advance Letter
Director Ditas Katague today sent the following letter to Secretary Gary Locke urging reconsideration of the U.S. Census Bureau’s English-only Advance Letter policy:
September 28, 2009
The Honorable Gary Locke
Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Secretary Locke:
It has come to my attention that the U.S. Census Bureau has made the policy decision to send the Advance Letter in English-only in March 2010. The Advance Letter is one of the first official communications coming directly from the U.S. Census Bureau for the decennial census. By not including any in-language instructions or messages, I believe you are missing a huge opportunity to engage limited or non-proficient English speaking households in preparing them for the arrival of the census questionnaire.
I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision, as this decision risks completely missing the opportunity to communicate with those Hard-to-Count populations in our state. Hundreds of languages other than English are spoken at home in California. Based on 2008 American Community Survey (ACS) data, only 19,646,489 out of more than 30 million Californians speak only English . That leaves millions and millions of California residents that could effectively not receive advance notice of the decennial census.
Lastly, we believe that any investment in sending a multi-lingual Advance Letter to Californians will ultimately serve to increase the Mail Back Response Rate (MRR), which will decrease the amount of Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) the Bureau conducts. This could save valuable time and taxpayer money.
Again, I strongly urge you to reconsider your English-only Advance Letter policy immediately so that operations are not impacted and to ensure all Californians are counted.
Director, 2010 Census Statewide Outreach
Governor’s Office of Planning and Research
cc: The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable Diane Feinstein
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Robert Groves, U.S. Census Bureau Director
B16001. LANGUAGE SPOKEN AT HOME BY ABILITY TO SPEAK ENGLISH FOR THE POPULATION 5 YEARS AND OVER
Universe: POPULATION 5 YEARS AND OVER
Data Set: 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates