August 22, 2022
In this week's Missouri Policy Spotlight, MOST Environment & Infrastructure Fellow, Dr. Tomy Granzier-Nakajima, gives an overview of broadband access in Missouri and some of the legislative changes that occurred during the 2022 regular session. 
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The MOST team is so excited to welcome Dr. Zack Miller to our team as our new Program Coordinator. Zack worked with us this winter as our first Graduate Policy Fellow, where he led a research project about climate resilience in rural Missouri. In his new role, Zack will help run our MOST Policy Fellows Program, facilitate public engagement programming and build relationships with new and existing partners. 
MOST Policy Fellows serve as informal science advisors to the Missouri General Assembly.  All legislative Science Notes are written based on requests from state lawmakers. 
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Missouri student test scores still lag behind pre-pandemic levels

On Tuesday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released preliminary test scores for the 2021-22 school year showing that, just like last year, fewer than half of Missouri students statewide passed with proficient and advanced scores across subjects. There were small improvements compared to results from the 2020-21 school year, with 39% of students proficient or advanced in math — an increase in four percentage points, and 38% of students proficient or advanced in science — an increase of one percentage point. However both scores remained below the 42% of students testing proficient or advanced in both subjects in 2019. 
Science Note: COVID-19 & K-12 Education

Missouri's new photo-ID law will soon face multiple legal challenges

Missouri’s sweeping elections law will soon face two lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. The law, like many passed by the legislature this year and signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, is set to go into effect on Aug. 28. Meeting during several days in Jefferson City, a collaboration including Missouri Faith Voices, the NAACP and labor leaders say they intend to fight the law through not only litigation, but also by still getting out the vote despite the changes they said will make it more difficult to cast a ballot.

Science Note: Voter ID Laws

Kansas City mayor sues to block Missouri law requiring higher police spending

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Wednesday that he will file a lawsuit against the state of Missouri arguing a new law requiring the city to spend more on police is un-constitutional.  The law, approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mike Parson this year, raises the portion of Kansas City’s budget that must be devoted to the police department from 20% to 25%. 

Science Note: Public Safety Funding

For St. Louis area flooding, solutions could come in a variety of ways

While funding from the American Rescue Plan Act is not going toward fixing St. Louis’ stormwater issues, another pot of money from the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law could be used instead. Missouri is set to receive around $9 billion from the bill, with $5 billion of it already allocated for projects. Jim Wild, executive director of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, said the organization will be working on a plan to define what needs to be done as well as what can be achieved. However, even with funding to do such projects, they still take years.

Science Note: Flood Resilience

Missouri crisis centers see wave of calls since the 988 suicide hotline’s launch

In its first days of operation in July, a newly revamped, national mental health hotline was already exceeding Missouri providers’ expectations as a wave of people dialed three numbers: 9-8-8. They ranged from the curious to those seeking help, and several providers across Missouri told The Independent calls had already increased by 50% within a week of the new three-digit number’s rollout.

Science Note: Suicide Education & Prevention Programs

A state survey found higher pay and wellness days could help stop Missouri teachers from quitting

Teachers say higher pay, more wellness days & student loan reimbursement could keep and bring more people into the profession, according to a survey by Missouri’s Teacher Recruitment & Retention Blue Ribbon Commission. The com-mission, created by the state board of education, is tasked with finding solutions to the chronic teacher shortage. This month, the commission launched the statewide survey and held a hearing for teachers to share their thoughts.

Science Note: Teacher Recruitment & Retention

Applications for our Executive Policy Fellowship continue to be accepted on a rolling basis. MOST Executive Policy Fellows assist state agencies with incorporating data management, analysis, visualization, and integration practices to improve program design and implementation according to agency priorities. Executive Policy Fellows also have opportunities to build policy-relevant skills by participating in professional development activities hosted by MOST and by contributing additional capacity to team projects as appropriate.

We are currently seeking candidates that have (or will have) a terminal degree (M.S./M.A. or above) in data science, computer science, systems engineering, or a related field (e.g., operations management), or have completed a terminal degree in another discipline that required extensive data analysis. Do you know someone who would be a good fit? Additional application materials can be found at
Calling scientists and engineers interested in policy writing experience! 

We are seeking members of a Community Science Note Editorial Board who can assist in writing and reviewing science notes for a variety of settings, including general information, responses to public comment opportunities, and in advance of public hearings. We request that writers and editors have scientific training such as advanced degrees and/or extensive research experience. 

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