The Home School Court Report
No. 4

In This Issue


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by Melanie Palazzo
- disclaimer -
Legislation Would Make American Community Survey Optional

Sometime over the past decade, you may have been one of the randomly selected households to receive an American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. The American Community Survey is currently sent to around 3 million addresses a year. It asks 14 pages of very specific, invasive questions, such as how many bedrooms you have, how much your monthly water bill is, and what time various people in your household left home to go to work last week, among others. Currently, U.S. law requires that you fill out this survey in its entirety or face a fine of up to $5,000.

American citizens saw their first census in 1790. It was six questions long. The authority to conduct this census came straight from Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. American citizens have seen a U.S. Census form come to their door every 10 years since. However, in 1992, Congress decided that the information collected in the census every 10 years wasn’t enough. The American Community Survey was created to be sent to select households every year to provide additional demographics and other information to the federal government.

On March 3, 2011, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-2) introduced House Resolution 931 to the House of Representatives. H.R. 931 would allow most of the questions on the American Community Survey to be optional. If H.R. 931 becomes law, the only mandatory information on the survey will be your name, the response date, contact information, and the number of people living at the same address (similar to the information asked on the original census in 1790).

HSLDA has long been concerned about the level of personal information collected and the invasiveness of the American Community Survey. Many homeschoolers are rightly concerned about giving the federal government detailed information about their home, children, and lifestyle. We are grateful to Congressman Poe for introducing H.R. 931 and giving the American people control of what personal information they share with the government.

We encourage you to contact your U.S. representative and share your thoughts on this bill.

You may reach your representative by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 866-220-0044. If you do not know who your U.S. representative is, please use HSLDA’s legislative toolbox.

About the author

Melanie Palazzo is the HSLDA Congressional Action Program director.