Weaving Movements Newsletter 2018: Mapping Social Justice with GIS
In May 2018, the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) and Vecinos Unidos(Neighbors United) of Lamont and Arvin pushed for fairer representation on the Kern High School District (KHSD) Board of Trustees. DHF’s new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team was able to gather population data and develop a variety of maps to present its case for better representation on the KHSD’s Board. DHF’s GIS Analyst developed a map that showcased the Latino’s population growth in Kern County on the school district’s map using information from the American Community Survey. The proposed DHF map highlighted the residence of three trustees, all who live within a three-mile radius from one another in the wealthiest, affluent area of Northwest Bakersfield. These tools helped the community understand how KHSD gerrymandered boundaries which resulted in the centralized power of the white minority, thereby systematically denying the just representation of historically disenfranchised communities of color. The DHF and communities attended board meetings to advocate for an additional Latino-majority district and the grouping of communities of interest to prevent further gerrymandering and to distribute power fairly across communities served by KHSD. The maps created by the DHF’s GIS team were presented at board meetings to counter the maps being presented by the KHSD. In the end, the Kern County Committee on School District Organization (KCCSDO), the entity with the final say, voted to implement a school district map that was proposed by the KHSD Board of Trustees and made no major changes to decentralizing power concentrated in Northwest Bakersfield. The DHF and Vecinosattained a second Latino-majority district, although more needs to be done to end underrepresentation on boards that impact the education inequities in Kern County.