The United States Census of 2000 could cause federal funding for poor Detroit students
to be cut, according to two advocacy groups.
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) and the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) said
that billions of dollars in federal aid for Detroit schools will be lost if the 2000
census shows that Detroit's population has dropped under one million, the level at which
cities are eligible for additional federal dollars. The census is a constitutionally
mandated enumeration of citizens conducted every 10 years by the U. S. Census Bureau.
- 10% of state's population
- 12% of state's children
- 11% of state's public school students
- 31% of state's poor children
- 27% of state's free lunch students
- 44% of state's minority students
Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and other city officials are challenging the way the census
counts citizens due to claims that the 1990 census failed to account for as much as 62
percent of Detroit residents under age 18. The 1990 census placed Detroit's population at
CDF estimates that the 1990 data did not credit Detroit for nearly 17,500 additional
children and has concerns that the methods used to count citizens could also shortchange
Detroit in 2000.
Michael Casserly, director of CGCS, estimates that every child not counted in the
census means about $650 less for Detroit in federal resources per student or the
equivalent of $16,250 for every classroom of 25 students. Much of the federal money is
spent on special education programs that do not receive state funding.
Archer and others are calling for the Census Bureau to adopt a statistical technique
known as "sampling" to count urban residents who might otherwise be missed by
the census takers. Sampling, however, was ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme
Court in January 1999. The court's 5-4 ruling requires that a traditional head count be
used to determine the number of people in the United States.
The outcome of the 2000 census may also cause Detroit to lose its ability to impose a
city income tax. Michigan law stipulates that only cities with one million or more
residents may levy an income tax.
Detroit's income tax is 3 percent for residents, 2 percent for corporations, and 1.5
percent for nonresidents who work in the city. The city's overall municipal tax burden is
more than six times higher than average for Michigan municipalities.