Still, Williams conceded the map remains a work in progress. Yet another draft map, the third, is under development and there’s no guarantee it will gain sufficient support to pass.
“We’re still weighing and soliciting and sifting through the input we have received,” said Williams. “The goal is to come with a map that has the most minority representation while keeping communities together and passing constitutional muster.”
Lawmakers’ first draft of the map drew a hail of criticism, much of it from Latinos who said that in a school district in which almost half of students are Hispanic — 46.5% — it would be unfair to approve a map with more predominantly white and Black-dominated districts than those in which a Latino would be favored to win.
A second draft, released last week, changes that some. It proposes creating seven districts in which Black residents comprise a majority of the population, compared with five each for Latinos and whites. Latinos would be the plurality in two other districts, making a Latino candidate the favorite to win in seven of the 20 overall districts, and white residents a plurality in one, giving them an edge in six districts overall.
Some groups still are objecting, though, with some Latino representatives calling for half of the districts, 10 of 20, to go to them.
Williams said she’s sympathetic, but she underlined that, legally, it’s the city’s overall population, not the student distribution, that must be used for map purposes. In the last census, Chicago’s population was 33% white, 29% Black and 29% Latino.
Williams conceded that the law does allow some flexibility. For instance, the recently adopted Chicago ward remap created one additional Black ward by packing white residents into wards with up to 57,600 population each and spreading Black residents into wards with a population as low as 52,200. But Williams said she does not know how much variance would be acceptable to the courts.
Chicago Board of Education members traditionally have been appointed by the mayor, with confirmation by the City Council. But under strong pressure from the Chicago Teachers Union, the Legislature last year enacted a bill requiring elections in 20 districts starting next year.
The map drawing the lines of those 20 districts is supposed by approved by July 1. It’s not clear what would happen if the Legislature misses that deadline.
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May 22, 2023 at 10:45PM