Prof's Maps Lead to Legislative Change
A Smith College research team
was recently honored for creating
that were influential in the passage of legislation to change
the state’s education aid funding formula.
Nathanael A. Fortune, associate
professor of physics at Smith, was named to the “2006
All State School Committee” in recognition of maps that
he, Amanda Nyren '06, and Jon Caris, Smith Spatial Anaylsis
Lab coordinator, developed using the college’s Spatial
Analysis Lab and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology.
The maps reflect inequities in
the “local aid” funding formula to public schools
since 2002. As a result, the state legislature has voted to
revise its funding formula and take into account each community's
average income instead of just property values, said Fortune.
“I knew we had something
worthwhile when I learned that legislators were using the
maps in their discussions with each other,” he added.
In recognizing the work of the
Smith researchers, the Massachusetts Association of School
Committees (MASC) noted: “Using state-of-the-art software
and mapping technology, [Fortune] and his team developed valuable
illustrations that demonstrated how many Massachusetts communities
were still disadvantaged by key legislative proposals. His
attentiveness to detail and his commitment to disseminating
timely information to the MASC membership and legislative
leadership was vital to the funding discussion and changes
that took place this year.”