Other Voices: What Texas editors are saying

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Amarillo Globe-News

With the calendar soon turning over to a “0” year, it’s time once again for the important business of conducting a nationwide census, an activity mandated to take place every 10 years in an effort to get a complete count of the country’s population.

The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section II) stipulates the census take place, and the results are used for numerous purposes, including determining the number of seats each state will hold in the House of Representatives. ...

The first census began just more than a year after the inauguration of George Washington and before the second session of the first Congress ended. Data from the six-question survey was overseen by then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson with the 1790 census assigned to marshals of U.S. judicial districts. Although questions beyond obtaining the count have been ruled constitutional, the goal of the census is to count each person one time only in the right place.

A complete and thorough count is critical. Once finished, information can be used by residents to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy; businesses use the information to inform decisions about where to build factories, offices and stores. These new businesses, in turn, contribute to a community’s job growth. Local governments leverage the data to not only ensure public safety but also plan new schools and hospitals. Real estate developers and city planners also benefit from the info, using it to plan new developments and improve neighborhoods.

With the new year now just mere weeks away, census officials have ramped up their efforts to educate people about upcoming milestones and why the census matters so much. ...

The census is scheduled to be available by mid-March with efforts on gathering a complete count ending July 31. For the first time, respondents can participate online. Officially, Census Day is April 1. ...

Certainly, society has grown more complex and complicated in the 200-plus years since the 1790 census, and the job of obtaining a complete count is more challenging than ever as the country has grown in number (estimated 330 million people these days), diversity (basic census information is now available in more than a dozen languages on the organization’s website) and mobility.

That said, those factors make the job more critical than ever before. We encourage everyone to do their civic duty and comply with the census process, filling out forms in a timely manner by whichever method is most convenient and answering census questions. ...

Texas falling behind

The Dallas Morning News

Sometimes we learn things the hard way when mistakes come back to haunt us years later. What seemed like good ideas can become anvils on future progress.

For years, Texas pointed with pride to student gains on the respected National Assessment of Educational Progress tests as a sign this state had committed to improving outcomes. A decade ago, test scores for African American eighth- graders in reading showed steady gains, and Texas was outpacing the nation.

Those days (and gains) are now gone. In fact, the 2019 scores are troubling. Reading scores of African American eighth-graders in Texas now have fallen behind the nation as a whole and behind even Mississippi, one of the poorest states in the country.

So what gives? Put simply, Mississippi didn’t so much surge ahead, though it made some gains. Instead the Magnolia State is now beating Texas because the Lone State State’s scores plummeted.

For anyone who cares about educating the next generation of Texans (and Americans), this ought to be a wake-up call. Part of the problem here is money. We’re thinking of a $5 billion cut in state education earlier in the decade that only now is being restored in Texas. But that’s also not the entire story. There’s also been an erosion of accountability at the state and federal levels. ...

Regardless of what is causing test scores to fall, we need officials in this state to see the downward trend is unacceptable.

Our collective failure is failing the next generation of Texans.

Today's Bible verse

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

— John 1:1-3

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