Census 2000: more than a head count

Tuesday, February 27, 2001 at 1:00am

The stakes are high for Census 2000.

Certainly the census data is critical in allocating federal dollars based on population districts. The political implications of legislative redistricting based on population are critical, too, on both local and larger levels.

But, perhaps most significant of all, the census data is critical because it reflects more than ever before the changing face of America and, closer to home, the changing face of Nashville.

Nowhere will that changing face be demonstrated more vividly than in counting those who make up the wide spectrum of racial and ethnic groups. These groups have been traditionally undercounted, according to reports from the Census Bureau. However, revised questions over the years, and particularly on the most recent census forms, are designed to correct that.

This nation has come a long way since the original constitutional standard counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, but we still have a long way to go.

One giant step in the right direction is the Census Information Center, which will hold workshops to teach community leaders, business and civic organizations, nonprofit agencies and interested citizens the best way to access Census 2000 data.

What these workshops provide is threefold, at least:

1. They can educate participants on how to access and use census data.

2. They can motivate nontraditional data users

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