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Minorities Push Scientific Sampling

July 28, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Supporters of the Clinton administration’s contested bid to use scientific sampling in the 2000 census endorsed the effort at the White House on Tuesday.

All contended they represent minorities and institutions hurt by serious undercounting in 1990 census.

Representing blacks, Latinos, Asians, elementary school principals, county governments, and other groups, they huddled at the White House with administration and Census Bureau officials.

President Clinton and Democrats in Congress favor using statistical sampling in the next census to avoid undercounts of minorities, children and the rural poor. But Republicans strongly oppose the idea, arguing that the Constitution requires a national census done by head count and that previous experience with sampling has shown it to be faulty.

At stake is a redrawing of congressional districts, based on the census data, that could shift seats to states that have many urban _ that is, mainly Democratic _ areas. Billions in federal and private funds also are linked to census data.

``In the 1990 census, there was not a full, fair, accurate account,″ said Wade Henderson, representing the Leadership Council on Civil Rights. ``We think that was a travesty and we want to turn that around.″

It has been estimated that the 1990 census missed 8 million people and was the first in history to be less accurate than the previous one.

Sally McConnel, representing the National Association of Elementary School Principals, said the 1990 undercount handicapped educators trying to plan ahead. She said half of those not counted in 1990 were poor children, which reduced financing for federal programs aimed at helping school-aged children from poor families.

``Scientific sampling gives us the best chance to achieve an accurate account,″ said Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, executive director of the Black Leadership Forum. ``There is considerable and intensifying support for the sampling plans brought forward by the Census Bureau and the White House.″

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