Increasing Awareness of Rights and Procedures

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Individuals who receive a municipal citation or summons in many St. Louis County municipalities often are not provided with essential facts critical to navigating the judicial process. The procedures used in Ferguson, MO are an example of this problem:The Department of Justice found that individuals receiving a municipal citation or summons often are unaware of how much they owe, where and how to pay the ticket, what the different payment options are, what rights the individual has in the process, and what the consequences are for various actions or oversights. The communication that happens between courts and defendants is “haphazard and known by the court to be unreliable”—often delivered by judges verbally on an ad hoc basis and/or inaccurately and incompletely on municipal websites (DOJ, 2015).
    • The DOJ further found that “[m]any times…[Ferguson Police Department] officers omit critical information from the citation, which makes it impossible for a person to determine the specific nature of the offense charged, the amount of the fine owed, or whether a court appearance is required or some alternative method of payment is available. In some cases, citations fail to indicate the offense charged altogether. . . . In other cases, a ticket will indicate a charge but omit other crucial information” (DOJ, 2015).
    • Court staff often do not follow official procedures to notify a defendant with a missed court date of a new court date, or that missing the next court date will result in issuing an arrest warrant (DOJ, 2015).
    • Individuals against whom an arrest warrant has been issued can clear the warrant by paying a bond at the court window. However, individuals can avail themselves of this option only if they know that a warrant has been issued and if the payment option has been communicated to them, neither of which is a guaranteed to happen (DOJ, 2015).
    • The DOJ found that “a lack of transparency regarding rights and responsibilities” and “basic access deficiencies that frustrate a person’s ability to resolve even those charges that do not require in-court appearance” are two of five factors that “impose considerable hardship.” As a result, individuals often appear in court multiple times—sometimes more than ten occasions— attempting to resolve one case. Throughout this process, the individual will likely be assessed additional fines, fees, or have arrest warrants issued against them (DOJ, 2015).
  • In the ArchCity Defenders observation of over sixty courts, they found that “in all but very few, these municipalities fail to provide lawyers for those who cannot afford counsel. As a result, unrepresented defendants often enter pleas of guilty without knowing they have the right to consult a lawyer, although this information is on many court websites” (ArchCity Defenders, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for changes in ticketing practices, municipal court practices, notice procedures, and processes to appoint counsel, with the aim to increase individual’s awareness of their own rights and of municipal court processes. This increased awareness will, in turn, stop an individual’s single citation from escalating into an ever-increasing number of court dates and fines and fees.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness Through Consolidation of Municipal Courts

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • The presiding judge of the 21st Circuit (which includes St. Louis County) is charged with oversight of 81 municipal courts – almost ten times the average number of municipal courts in other judicial circuits (Better Together, 2014).
  • Jim Buford, former CEO and President of Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and a current member of the board of Better Together, stated “Fragmentation serves as a structural impediment to community reinvestment […] neither our infrastructure nor our collective conscience can afford this current level of fragmentation” (Buford, 2014).
  • Research by Better Together “revealed that fines-and-fees revenue increased at a time when property-tax revenue declined. Desperate to maintain their income stream in the face of dwindling property values, many municipalities turned to the municipal courts for revenue. Financially, this strategy yielded the results needed for the municipal governments to survive. 2013 data shows that of the 81 municipal courts in St. Louis County, 73 brought in more revenue than they require to operate. In fact, on average, a municipal court in St. Louis County costs $223,149 to operate yet brings in an average of $711,506 in revenue from fines and fees each year, for an average net revenue of $488,357” (Better Together, 2014).
  • It costs an estimated $15.8 million a year to operate St. Louis County’s 81 municipal courts (ArchCity Defenders, 2015). In contrast, one study suggests if the 81 municipal courts were consolidated into four full-time courts, the estimated costs would be cut to between $6 million and $8 million a year (ArchCity Defenders, 2015). Another study suggests that economic growth in a region can be stymied when there are high levels of “metropolitan political fragmentation, higher levels of racial segregation, and most significantly (both for theory and in terms of statistical significance) higher level of income inequality” (Benner & Pastor, 2013).
  • ArchCity Defenders, SLU Law Legal Clinics, Better Together, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, and the Organization for Black Struggle all recommend consolidating St. Louis County’s 81 municipal courts (ArchCity Defenders, 2015). These organizations identify the following as likely benefits of consolidation (ArchCity Defenders, 2015):
    • “lessen the incentive to use racially discriminatory fines and fees as a revenue stream”
    • “make it easier for poor and Black people to navigate the legal system in St. Louis County”
    • “make it easier for organizers and legal watchdogs to monitor compliance”
    • “save millions of dollars in court operation costs”
  • Between 1979 and 2001, 16 Missouri counties have consolidated trial courts and 8 counties have combined a portion of their operations into a centralized court. In a study conducted by the National Center for State Courts, a vast majority of court clerks reported improvements in (Moyer, 2001):
    • Efficiency within the court:increased flexibility, communication, and coordination between staff, and faster case processing;
    • Greater public access to court facilities:87% say public trust and confidence in court system improved;
    • Cost effectiveness:cost savings from shared supplies and equipment, and greater interest income;
    • 86 percent said, if given the choice, they would not go back to the prior court structure.

These findings prompted the Commission to draft a call to action for the consolidation of municipal courts.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Summary of Terms

Apprenticeship

A combination of on-the-job training and related instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation.
Source:U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/training/apprenticeship.htm

Asset-Building

Strategies that focus on the long-term development of individuals, families, and communities and that promote the increase of financial and tangible assets, such as savings, a home, and businesses of all kinds.
Source:Corporation of Enterprise Development, http://cfed.org/about/asset_building_faq/

At-Risk Youth

Young children and adolescents who are at risk of poor outcomes in areas such as school performance, physical and mental health as they relate to personal development, and successful integration into the economy and society due to family or life circumstances.
Source:U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Children and Families, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/synthesis_youth.pdf

Bi-Partisan Missouri Tax Credit Accountability Review Commission

Commission created by Governor Nixon in 2010 with the mission to review each of the State’s 61 tax credit programs and make recommendations for greater efficacy and enhanced return on investment.
Source:State of Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission, http://tcrc.mo.gov/

Career and technical education (CTE)

Term applied to schools, institutions, and educational programs that specialize in skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation.
Source:Great Schools Partnership, http://edglossary.org/career-and-technical-education/

Child Tax Credit (CTC)

Enacted in 1997 to help working families offset the cost of raising children; a tax liability for families making less than $130,000 that can be worth up to $1000 per eligible child (under age 17 at the end of the tax year); taxpayers eligible for the credit subtract it from the total amount of federal income taxes that they would otherwise owe.
Source:Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, http://www.cbpp.org/research/policy-basics-the-child-tax-credit

Community Development Bank (CD Bank)

A depository institution with a stated mission to primarily benefit the underserved communities in which they are chartered to conduct business. A CD bank pursues this specialized mission by providing financial services to low- and moderate-income individuals or communities or benefiting other areas targeted for redevelopment by local, state, tribal, or federal government.
Source:U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, http://www.occ.gov/topics/community-affairs/resource-directories/cd-bank-and-financial-institution/index-cd-bank-and-financial-institution.html

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program

Program created under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 to provide grant funds to local and state governments to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing with a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities to assist low and moderate income residents.
Source:U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/communitydevelopment/programs

Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)

A certified and specialized financial institution that works in market niches that are underserved by traditional financial institutions to provide a range of financial products and services in economically distressed target markets, such as mortgage financing for low-income and first-time home buyers and not-for-profit developers, flexible underwriting and risk capital for needed community facilities, and technical assistance, commercial loans and investments to small start-up or expanding businesses in low-income areas. CDFIs include regulated institutions such as community development banks and credit unions, and non-regulated institutions such as loan and venture capital funds. Certification for a CDFI is conferred by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund.
Source:Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, http://www.cdfifund.gov/what_we_do/programs_id.asp?programID=9

Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)

An act passed by Congress in 1977 to encourage depository institutions to meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
Source:Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), https://www.ffiec.gov/cra/

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

A financial regulatory agency established by Congress charged with a) overseeing financial products and services offered to consumers b) writing rules, supervising companies, and enforcing federal consumer financial protection laws; c) restricting unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices; d) taking consumer complains; e) promoting financial education; f) researching consumer behavior; g) monitoring financial markets for new risks to consumers; h) enforcing laws that outlaw discrimination and other unfair treatment in consumer finance.
Source:Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, http://www.consumerfinance.gov/the-bureau/

Continuum of Care (CoC) Program

A program designed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, and state and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness; promote access to and affect utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families; and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Source:Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/hudprograms/continuumofcare

Disconnected (youth, young men, job seekers)

A large number of people who do not complete high school as well as some with a high school degree as the highest level of education (and many high school graduates) become seriously disconnected from both school and work. The long-term prospects for this population are extremely poor, particularly for young people. The population of disconnected youth is diverse, meaning that a range of different approaches is needed to re-engage this group of young people.
Source:MDRC, http://www.occ.gov/topics/community-affairs/resource-directories/cd-bank-and-financial-institution/index-cd-bank-and-financial-institution.html

Displacement

The process in which any low-income person (family, individual, business, nonprofit organization, or farm) or group of persons moves from real property, or moves his or her personal property from real property, permanently and involuntarily, as a direct result of rehabilitation, demolition, or acquisition for an activity.
Source:U.S. Government Publishing Office, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2013-title24-vol1/xml/CFR-2013-title24-vol1-part42.xml, Department of Housing and Urban Development, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/affordablehousing/training/web/relocation/displaced

Earned income tax credit (EITC)

A refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples. The amount of EITC benefit depends on a recipient’s income and number of children.
Source:Internal Revenue Service (IRS), http://www.irs.gov/Credits-&-Deductions/Individuals/Earned-Income-Tax-Credit/EITC,-Earned-Income-Tax-Credit,-Questions-and-Answers

Empowerment Centers

Organizations and programs that work towards increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those financial choices into desired actions and outcomes that facilitate economic mobility.
Source:World Bank, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTEMPOWERMENT/0,,contentMDK:20245753~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:486411,00.html

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

An act that prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, because an applicant receives income from a public assistance program, or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.
Source:U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/hce/housing_ecoa.php

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

An independent agency of the federal government that was created in 1933 in response to thousands of bank failures. The FDIC insures deposits in banks and thrift institutions for at least $250,000, as well as monitors and addresses risks to the deposit insurance funds by supervising more than 4,500 banks and savings banks for operational safety and soundness. Banks can be chartered by state or the federal government to join the FDIC system.
Source:FDIC, https://www.fdic.gov/about/learn/symbol/index.html

Gainful Employment

An employment situation where the employee receives consistent work and payment from the employer.
Source:Law Dictionary, http://thelawdictionary.org/gainful-employment/

High-Skilled Jobs (employees)

A job that requires special skills, training, and knowledge that are often attained through accumulated work experience or education in a college, university, or technical school.
Source:U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.dol.gov/dol/aboutdol/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/trends/trendsVII.htm

Human Capital Development

The development of the collective skills, knowledge, or other intangible assets of individuals that can be used to create economic value for the individuals, their employers, or their community.
Source:Government Accountability Office, http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/cg00014g.pdf and Dictionary.com

Individual Development Account (IDA)

A savings account and asset building tool designed to enable low- and moderate-income families save towards a targeted amount usually used for building assets in the form of home ownership, post-secondary education, and small business ownership. For every dollar saved in an IDA, savers receive a corresponding match.
Source:U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.dol.gov/dol/aboutdol/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/trends/trendsVII.htm

Labor Force Attachment

Concept related to a person’s proximity to the labor force, which covers a spectrum from fully attached workers (e.g. those in employment) at one extreme, to those who are discouraged and marginally attached, and ultimately to those who do not want a job at the other extreme (e.g. economically inactive retired people, etc.). Discouraged workers are considered to be marginally attached to the labor force, and are not currently looking for work for one of the following reasons, they:1) believe that no job is available to them in their line of work or area; 2) had previously been unable to find work; 3) lack the necessary schooling, training, skills, or experience; 4) Employers think they are too young or too old; 5) face some other type of discrimination.
Source:Canadian Career Development Foundation, http://www.ccdf.ca/ccdf/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Supplement-3-Labour-Market-Attachement.pdf; US Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm#data

Low and moderate income (LMI) communities

Low-income:individuals and geographies having a median family income less than 50% of the area median income. Moderate income:individuals and geographies having a median family income of at least 50% and less than 80% of the area median income. The CRA is intended to support community development in LMIs.
Source:Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC):https://www2.fdic.gov/crapes/peterms.asp

Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)

HUD program created by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 that gives state and local LIHTC-allocating agencies the equivalent of nearly $8 billion in annual budget authority to issue tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction of rental housing targeted to low-income households; aims to encourage the investment of private equity in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households.
Source:Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC):http://www.occ.gov/topics/community-affairs/publications/insights/insights-low-income-housing-tax-credits.pdf

Low-Skilled Employees (jobs; labor)

A worker who has not acquired the special skills, training, and knowledge that are often attained through accumulated work experience or education in a college, university, or technical school.
Source:U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.dol.gov/dol/aboutdol/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/trends/trendsVII.htm

Middle-Market Neighborhood

A neighborhood in which there is income diversity as a result of:a) gentrification – the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in a district’s character and culture, or b) housing policies that encourage deconcentration of poverty, including public housing developments, HOPE VI, or tenant-based housing vouchers.
Source:U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/brd/09khadduri.pdf

Missouri Housing Trust Fund

Created by the state legislature in 1994, the Missouri Housing Trust provides funding for a variety of housing needs such as homeless prevention, rehabilitation or construction of rental housing, rental assistance, and home repair.
Source:Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC), http://www.mhdc.com/housing_trust_fund/MHTF-info.htm

Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP)

Program managed by Missouri’s Department of Economic Development (DED) to provide assistance to community-based organizations to enable them to implement community or neighborhood projects in the areas of community service, education, crime prevention, job training, and physical revitalization.
Source:Missouri’s Department of Economic Development (DED), https://www.ded.mo.gov/BCS%20Programs/BCSProgramDetails.aspx?BCSProgramID=58

Predatory Lending

Any lending practice that imposes unfair or abusive loan terms on a borrower; it is also any practice that convinces a borrower to accept unfair terms through coercive, or exploitative actions for a loan that a borrower does not need, does not want, or cannot afford. Predatory lending benefits the lender, not the borrower, and ignores or hinders the borrower’s ability to repay the debt.
Source:Debt.org, https://www.debt.org/credit/predatory-lending/

Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP)

Plan that is annually released by the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) that details the selection criteria and applicant requirements for housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds.
Source:MHDC, http://www.mhdc.com/rental_production/2016_fy_items/documents/FY2016_QAP.pdf

Second Chance Checking Account

An account for those who have had credit or account management problems in the past that have prohibited them from opening an account with a bank or credit union.
Source:St. Louis Community Credit Union, https://www.stlouiscommunity.com/financial-solutions/second-chance-checking

Section 3 Hiring Program

Section 3 of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Act of 1968 states that wherever HUD financial assistance is expended for housing and community development, to the greatest extent feasible, economic opportunities will be given to businesses and residents in the area. Section 3 residents are:public housing residents; low- and very-low income persons who live in the metropolitan area or nonmetropolitan area where a HUD-assisted project for housing or community development is located. Low income is defined as 80 percent or below the median income of that area; very-low income is defined as 50 percent or below the median income of that area. Types of opportunities include:job training, employment, and contracts.
Source:U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/section3/section3brochure

Section 8 Housing

The federal government’s housing choice voucher program that a local public housing authority administers through an application process that selects low-income families, elderly, and the disabled for housing assistance. A family that is issued a housing voucher is responsible for finding a suitable housing unit of the family’s choice where the owner agrees to rent under the program.
Source:HUD, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_choice_voucher_program_section_8

Soft Skills Training

Training that enhances workforce readiness skills in communication, enthusiasm and attitude management, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism.
Source:U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/youth/softskills/

Source of Income

All wages and any other compensation for services performed in a given location.
Source:Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Source-of-Income—Personal-Service-Income

Subsidized Employment Program

A program that provides jobs to people who cannot find employment in the regular labor market and use public funds, such as TANF subsidies, to pay for all or some of their wages.
Source:U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/subsidizing-employment-opportunities-for-low-income-families-a-review-of

Talent Development Initiatives

Initiatives that address competency gap, particularly in mission-critical occupations, by implementing and maintaining programs to attract, acquire, develop, promote, and retain quality talent.
Source:U.S. Office of Personnel Management, https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/human-capital-management/talent-management/

Tax Credit for Contribution Program

Program that the Missouri Development Finance Board grants tax credits equal to 50 percent on the value of any eligible contribution to the Board by any taxpayer. To be eligible for the credit, the contribution must be made to one of the three funds established by the Board’s statutes:the Industrial Development and Reserve Fund, the Infrastructure Development Fund, and Export Finance Fund.
Source:State of Missouri Development Finance Board, http://www.mdfb.org/Programs/TaxCredit_Contribution.html

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Program that provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish the purposes of the TANF program:a) to provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their homes; b) to reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; c) to prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies; d) to encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.
Source:U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/programs/tanf/about; http://www.tanf.us/

Transitional Jobs

Work that allows an employee with temporary restrictions to work in a modified, alternative, or reduced-hour capacity, for a defined period of time, while recuperating from illness or injury.
Source:University of California – San Francisco, http://ucsfhr.ucsf.edu/index.php/pubs/article/transitional-work/

Underemployed Workers

People who do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior four weeks, and are currently available for work.
Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm#unemployed

Wage Support Programs

A program that provides jobs to people who cannot find employment in the regular labor market and use public funds, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) subsidies, to pay for all or some of their wages. See also:“subsidized employment.”
Source:U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/resource/subsidizing-employment-opportunities-for-low-income-families-a-review-of

Summary of Terms – Youth at the Center

A+ Scholarship

A Missouri higher education scholarship program that provides scholarship funds to eligible graduates of A+ designated high schools who attend a participating public community college or vocational/technical school, or certain private two-year vocational/technical schools. The award is $500 per year with a total potential value over four years of $2,000.
Source:Missouri Department of Higher Education, http://dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/aplusscholarship.php

Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program

A need-based grant program designed for undergraduate Missouri residents to increase students’ access to their school of choice. Award amount and eligibility are determined by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as calculated through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and Missouri Department of Higher Education funding. The maximum award for a public four-year institution is $2,850 and the minimum award is $1,500.
Source:Missouri Department of Higher Education, http://dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/accessmo.php; Southeast Missouri State University, http://www.semo.edu/sfs/financialaid/MO_aid_progs.html; Missouri State University, http://www.missouristate.edu/FinancialAid/scholarships/Freshman.htm

Alive and Well STL Campaign

A community-wide effort focused on reducing the impact of toxic stress and trauma on health and wellbeing; led by the St. Louis Regional Health Commission.
Source:St. Louis Regional Health Commission, http://www.stlrhc.org/work/alive-well-stl/

Alternative Interventions

A set of school disciplinary systems designed to provide a safe educational environment that enables students to develop and apply the skills, knowledge, behaviors, and values needed to realize their maximum potential. They are used as an alternative to policies such as zero tolerance, suspension, and expulsion, which have been shown to be related to a number of negative outcomes for students including elevated rates of school dropout, poor school climate, and low academic achievement.
Source:Indiana University, http://www.indiana.edu/~equity/docs/Alternatives_to_Expulsion.pdf; Duke University, https://childandfamilypolicy.duke.edu/pdfs/familyimpact/2010/Alternatives_to_Suspension.pdf; Palm Beach Schools, http://www.palmbeachschools.org/safety/

Anti-Racism Professional Development Training

A type of training program used to address racism and the changing shape of race relations. It offers tools to transform people’s attitudes and behaviors, intergroup relationships, and social institutions and policies. It is grounded in a conceptual analysis of racial and ethnic oppression and social change, address the institutional and structural dimensions of racism, and often includes Racial Identity Development work.
Source:Aspen Institute, http://www.aspeninstitute.org/sites/default/files/content/docs/rcc/training.pdf

Apprenticeship

A combination of on-the-job training and related instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Apprenticeship programs can be sponsored by individual employers, joint employer and labor groups, and/or employer associations.
Source:Department of Labor, http://www.dol.gov/apprenticeship/; White House, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2014/m-14-15.pdf

Assistance Teams

School-based problem-solving teams that support children who are at risk for school failure and for over-referral to special education. They are designed to ensure that students are provided the opportunity to succeed in the general education environment such that they are only referred for special education evaluation when interventions and modifications have been unsuccessful and data justifies possible separation from the general education program.
Source:National Institute of Health, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9009801; Albuquerque Public Schools, http://www.aps.edu/about-us/policies-and-procedural-directives/procedural-directives/j.-students/school-assistance-team-general-screening-and-student-intervention-guidelines; Madison Lake School District, http://www.madison-lake.k12.oh.us/docs/0-What%20is%20the%20Intervention%20Assistance%20Team.pdf

Bright Flight

A merit-based Missouri higher education scholarship program that encourages top-ranked high school seniors to attend approved Missouri postsecondary schools. To be eligible students must be a Missouri resident, and have a composite score on the ACT or SAT in either the top three percent of all Missouri students taking those tests, or the top 4th or 5th percentiles of all Missouri students taking those tests.
Source:Missouri Department of Higher Education, http://dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/brightflight.php

Child Development Account (CDA)

A universal, long-term asset-building accounts established for children as early as birth and allowed to grow over their lifetime. Most are seeded with an initial deposit of $500 to $1,000 and built by contributions from family, friends, and the children themselves. In addition, accounts are augmented by savings matches and other incentives. Savings in CDAs are usually restricted to financing higher education, starting a small business, buying a home, or funding retirement. The programs also couple financial education with savings.
Source:Federal Reserve Bank St. Louis, https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/bridges/spring-2009/child-development-accounts-innovative-plans-build-savings-for-youth-starting-at-birth; Washington University in St. Louis, http://csd.wustl.edu/Publications/Documents/WP09-54.pdf; Corporation for Enterprise Development http://cfed.org/assets/pdfs/caseforCDAs_webversion.pdf

Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

A federal program administered by Missouri’s HealthNet for Kids program and is designed for uninsured children of low-income families who do not have access to affordable health insurance.
Source:Benefits.gov, http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/1606

Child Serving Systems

A systematic approach that engages child-serving agencies (health, mental health, education, child welfare, first responders, and criminal justice) to develop evidence-based services that address the impact of trauma on the children they serve, especially those at risk of developing severe emotional disorders and their families. More generally, the system is charged with providing a safe and healthy environment for children and adolescents.
Source:The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, http://www.nctsnet.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/Service_Systems_Brief_v1_v1.pdf; Pennsylvania Recovery and Resiliency, http://www.parecovery.org/principles_cassp.shtml; Persad Center, https://persadcenter.org/community-impact/making-child-serving-systems-stronger-and-more-effective

Community Eligibility Provision Program

Program allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free, nutritious school meals to all students through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
Source:USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/community-eligibility-provision

Cultural Competency Training

Training that seeks to ensure that organizations and individuals have a defined set of values and principles, and demonstrate behaviors, attitudes, policies and structures that enable them to work effectively cross-culturally. This includes having the capacity to value diversity, conduct self-assessment, manage the dynamics of difference, acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge, and adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve.
Source:Georgetown University, http://nccc.georgetown.edu/foundations/frameworks.html

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Program that began in 2012 under the Obama Administration and established that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain undocumented youth who came to the United States as children. Under a directive from the secretary of DHS, these youth may be granted a type of temporary permission to stay in the U.S. called “deferred action.” In November of 2014, President Obama announced an expansion the DACA program through executive action. However, on February 16, 2015, a federal district court in Texas issued an order that places a temporary injunction on the expanded DACA program, though people may still apply for DACA under the pre-expansion guidelines.
Source:U.S. Department of Homeland Security, http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca; National Immigration Law Center, http://www.nilc.org/FAQdeferredactionyouth.html

Denial of Transfer

Refers to the denial of the opportunity for a parent to transfer their child from an unaccredited school to a more successful school.
Source:St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/no-shortage-of-legal-advice-for-families-denied-school-transfers/article_056ed7ca-c9c2-5cd0-926e-f5b32288b203.html

EdPlus

An organization that serves teachers, administrators, support staff, and board members of the 61 public school districts in Missouri and Illinois, with the goal of providing services and resources in advocacy and innovation, customized educational solutions, and educational equity.
Source:EdPlus, http://www.edplus.org/serving_members/index.html

House Bill 42 (HB 42)

On 6/26, this bill was vetoed. The bill would have established policy around student transfer.
Source:Missouri House of Representatives, http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?year=2015&bill=HB%2042&code=R

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)

The administrative arm of the State Board of Education. It is primarily a service agency that works with educators, legislators, government agencies, community leaders, and citizens to maintain a strong public education system. The Department’s responsibilities range from early childhood to adult education services.
Source:DESE, https://www.facebook.com/MOEducation/timeline, http://dese.mo.gov/

Missouri Family Support Division (FSD)

A division of the Missouri Department of Social Services that provides help to families with food stamps, health care, child care, child support, and other needs to support their mission to maintain and strengthen Missouri families.
Source:Missouri Department of Social Services, http://dss.mo.gov/fsd/

Missouri Promise

A Missouri higher education scholarship program for students selected based on a combination of financial need and academic potential as demonstrated by a combination of class rank, grade point average, and ACT or SAT scores. The award is $1,000 for the first year and $1,500 for the second year.
Source:Missouri State University, http://www.missouristate.edu/FinancialAid/scholarships/Freshman.htm; Missouri House of Representatives, http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills151/sumpdf/HB0986I.pdf

Presumptive Eligibility

Eligibility for Medicaid, as based on information about a person’s income and household size and (at state option) information about citizenship, immigration status,and residency.
Source:Medicaid.gov, http://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/faq-01-24-14-hospital-pe.pdf

Ready by 21

Ready by 21 is a set of innovative strategies developed by the Forum for Youth Investment that helps communities improve the odds that all children and youth will be ready for college, work, and life. They provide standards, tools, training and technical assistance, and ways to measure and track their success.
Source:Ready by 21, http://www.readyby21.org/what-ready-21

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is an evolving response to harm that respects the dignity and equality of each person, builds understanding, and promotes social harmony through the healing of victims, offenders, and communities.
Source:Missouri State University, http://associations.missouristate.edu/MORJC/What_is_RJ.htm

Safe Schools Act (SSA)

The Missouri Safe Schools Act, which was passed in 1996, primarily deals with the following areas of a school district’s operation:policy development, student admission and enrollment, residency requirements, and reporting and record keeping.
Source:DESE, https://dese.mo.gov/governmental-affairs/legislation/safe-schools-act

School to Prison Pipeline

A national trend where children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Source:American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) https://www.aclu.org/issues/racial-justice/race-and-inequality-education/school-prison-pipeline

Self-Sufficiency Model

A Live, Work, Thrive model that suggests that a person’s advancement from poverty to economic self-sufficiency is supported by five critical pillars:family stability, well-being, education and training, financial management, and employment and career management.
Source:Crittenton Women’s Union, http://www.liveworkthrive.org/research_and_tools/bridge_to_self_sufficiency

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The program, formerly known as food stamps, offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities.
Source:U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC)

The administrative arm of the State Board of Education. It is primarily a service agency that works with educators, legislators, government agencies, community leaders and citizens to maintain a strong public education system. The Department’s responsibilities range from early childhood to adult education services.
Source:VICC, http://www.choicecorp.org/; Mehlville School District, http://vicc.mehlvilleschooldistrict.com/modules/groups/integrated_home.phtml?&gid=2495230&SID=&t=; Social Science Research Network, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2300776

Summary of Terms

Ability to Pay

A borrower’s capacity to fully pay his loan obligations.
Source:Businessdictionary.com, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/ability-to-pay-principle.html

Associate Circuit Court

A division of a Missouri State court, which can hear cases with amounts up to $25,000. This includes small claims cases.
Source:Missouri Courts, http://www.courts.mo.gov/hosted/circuit13/other/definitions.htm

Circuit Court

A court in which trials occur. Within a circuit court, there are various divisions, such as associate circuit, small claims, municipal, family, probate, criminal and juvenile. Missouri is divided into 45 judicial circuits.
Source:Missouri Courts, http://www.courts.mo.gov/hosted/circuit13/other/definitions.htm

Code 1000/2000

An administrative and an operational law enforcement mutual aid contingency plan which coordinates the commitment and deployment of police resources. The Code 1000 plan applies to the geographic limits of St. Louis County, Missouri; the Code 2000 plan applies to the geographic limits of the City of St. Louis, Missouri.
Source:Better Together STL, http://www.bettertogetherstl.com/files/better-together-stl/Maryland%20Heights%20PD%20-%20%20%20Code%201000%20%20-%202013%20Plan.pdf

Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA)

A commission created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of a) International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); b) National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE); National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA); and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
Source:CALEA, http://www.calea.org/content/commission

Community Policing

A philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues, such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.
Source:U.S. Department of Justice’s Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) Office, http://cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/january_2008/nugget.html, http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/vets-to-cops/e030917193-CP-Defined.pdf

Constitutional Procedural Rights

The right to standards established by procedural law, which governs the mechanics of how a legal case flows, including steps to process a case. Procedural law adheres to due process, which is a right granted to U.S. citizens by the 14th Amendment; due process refers to legal rights owed to a person in criminal and civil actions.
Source:Legal Dictionary, http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Procedural+right

Critical Incident

Under the Fourth Amendment, when a law enforcement officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, he or she may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
Source:Cornell Law School, http://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/facpub/273/

Diversion Option

The conditional channeling of youth in conflict with the law away from judicial proceedings through the development and implementation of procedures, structures, and programs that enable many –possibly most — to be dealt with by non-judicial bodies, thereby avoiding the negative effects of formal judicial proceedings and a criminal record.
Source:UNICEF, http://www.unicef.org/tdad/index_56037.html

Equal Protection Clause

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. In other words, the laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. A violation would occur, for example, if a state prohibited an individual from entering into an employment contract because he or she was a member of a particular race. The equal protection clause is not intended to provide “equality” among individuals or classes but only “equal application” of the laws. The result, therefore, of a law is not relevant so long as there is no discrimination in its application. By denying states the ability to discriminate, the equal protection clause of the Constitution is crucial to the protection of civil rights.
Source:Cornell University Law School, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/equal_protection

FirstNet

Also known as the First Responders Network; a congressionally mandated nationwide wireless broadband network that enables police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders to effectively communicate with one another.
Source:National Telecommunications and Information Administration, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/firstnet_fnn_presentation_09-25-2012_final.pdf

Historical Trauma

Cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations manifesting in certain cultural, ethnic, religious, and racial groups
Source:Substance Abuse & Mental Health Abuse (SAMHSA), http://gainscenter.samhsa.gov/cms-assets/documents/93078-842830.historical-trauma.pdf

Impartial Policing Training

A training program based on the principles that bias is a normal human attribute and often unconscious or implicit, and that implicit biases can influence our actions, particularly in spontaneous situations. Therefore, it develops a model training program on racially biased policing that recognizes the causes of racially-biased policing and its perceptions that is adoptable by law enforcement training academies.
Source:U.S. Department of Justice’s Community-Oriented Policing (COPS) Office, http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/conference/2011/FairandImpartialPolicing-Pearsall.pdf

Independent Investigative Board

A board comprised of citizens who contribute to the accountability of law enforcement agencies through the following:a) the ability and authority to investigate potential wrongdoing by officers and to make recommendations for prosecutions that are then evaluated by special prosecutors; b) a sufficient budget; c) the ability and authority to issue subpoenas and search warrants; d) a well-defined jurisdiction and mandate (e.g. civilian review board, citizen review board, civilian oversight board).
Source:Harvard Law Review, “Enhancing Accountability and Trust with Independent Investigations of Police Lethal Force”

International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)

An organization that addresses issues confronting law enforcement through advocacy, programs, research, and training and that seeks to promote advanced administrative, technical, and operational police practices; foster cooperation and exchange of information and experience amongst police leaders and police organizations of technical standing throughout the world.
Source:IACP, http://www.theiacp.org/Mission

Juvenile (person)

A person who has not attained his/her eighteenth birthday.
Source:U.S. Departmwnt of Justice, http://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-38-juvenile-defined

Law Enforcement Incident Command System (LEICS)

A management system designed to enable effective, efficient incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. Through the use of standardized positions (e.g., incident commander), common terminology (e.g., incident command post), and consistent management philosophies (e.g., unity of command), ICS seeks to facilitate the rapid integration of personnel from different agencies and entities into one organization to meet a common objective.
Source:Seattle University Law Review, http://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2189&context=sulr

Missouri Highway Patrol

Highway patrol agency that enforces traffic laws and promotes safety upon the highways, with jurisdiction anywhere within the state of Missouri; has a criminal investigation division that investigates crimes statewide; has received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
Source:Missouri State Highway Patrol, http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/Root/index.html#

Missouri Revised Statute 56.110

Statute that provides, in relevant part, that:“If the prosecuting attorney and assistant prosecuting attorney be interested or shall have been employed as counsel in any case where such employment is inconsistent with the duties of his or her office, or shall be related to the defendant in any criminal prosecution, either by blood or by marriage, the court having criminal jurisdiction may appoint some other attorney to prosecute or defend the cause.
Source:Missouri General Assembly, http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/05600001101.HTML

Missouri Statute 590.653.1

Statute that designates the power and duties of civilian review boards and that states the following:“Each city, county and city not within a county may establish a civilian review board, or may use an existing civilian review board which has been appointed by the local governing body, with the authority to investigate allegations of misconduct by local law enforcement officers towards members of the public. The members shall not receive compensation but shall receive reimbursement from the local governing body for all reasonable and necessary expenses.”
Source:Missouri General Assembly, http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/59000006531.HTML

Mutual Aid Agreement

An agreement among emergency responders to lend assistance across jurisdictional boundaries.
Source:Missouri General Assembly, http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/04400000901.HTML

New Media

Means of mass communication using digital technologies such as the Internet.
Source:New Media Institute (NMI), http://www.newmedia.org/what-is-new-media.html

Office of State Courts Administrator

Office that is responsible for providing administrative, business, and technology support services to the courts, and is organized by three divisions:Administrative Services Division; Court Business Services Division; and Information Technology Services Division.
Source:Missouri Courts, https://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=233

Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission

Commission that establishes the core curriculum for the training of peace officers and formulates definitions, rules and regulations for the administration of the POST program.
Source:POST, http://dps.mo.gov/dir/programs/post/

Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Program

A regulatory program with responsibility for licensing peace officers, ensuring compliance with peace officer continuing education requirements, and conducting investigations for disciplining the licenses of peace officers as specified by Chapter 590, RSMo. The POST Program also licenses law enforcement basic training centers, basic training instructors, approves law enforcement training curricula, and provides staff support for the POST Commission.
Source:POST, http://dps.mo.gov/dir/programs/post/

Protecting Communities and Police Act of 2015 (S. 1245)

A bill to provide for oversight of, and place restrictions on, Federal programs that provide equipment to law enforcement agencies.
Source:Govtrack.us, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s1245

Restorative Justice

A philosophy of justice that focuses upon repairing or addressing the harms caused by and caused to social relationship when wrongdoing occurs, such that crime is not merely breaking the law, but a cause and effect of harms to people, relationships, and communities.
Source:Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), http://www.ojjdp.gov/mpg/litreviews/Restorative_Justice.pdf

Serious Incident

Incidents involving alleged police misconduct and/or that can have the potential to damage community trust or confidence in the agency.
Source:21st Century Policing Task Force Final Report, http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/TaskForce_FinalReport.pdf

Statutory Procedural Rights

The law which governs the manner in which rights are enforced and wrongs rectified. The law which prescribes the procedure to be followed in a case.
Source:Ballantine’s Law Dictionary

Supreme Court of Missouri

The highest court in Missouri where seven Supreme Court Justices hear appeals of decisions made in lower courts and interpret the laws and constitutions of Missouri and the United States.
Source:Missouri Courts, http://www.courts.mo.gov/hosted/circuit13/other/definitions.htm

Tactical Withdrawal

The use of force, including deadly force, will sometimes be necessary. But when violence is avoidable and when avoiding it doesn’t sacrifice the police mission, officers should be required to use tactical restraint even when that means holding their position or temporarily withdrawing.
Source:Harvard Law Review, http://cdn.harvardlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/vol128_Stoughton.pdf

Summary of Terms

Better Business Bureau

Organization that sets standards for marketplace trust and calls out substandard marketplace behavior of businesses and charities.
Source:Better Business Bureau, http://www.bbb.org/stlouis/get-to-know-us/vision-mission-and-values/

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress that regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.
Source:Federal Communications Commission (FCC), https://www.fcc.gov/what-we-do

Internalized Racism

The personal conscious acceptance of the dominant society’s racist views, stereotypes and biases of one’s racial or ethnic group.

Source:Rudy Nickens of MODOT and referenced authors, http://stlpositivechange.org/sites/default/files/meeting_attachments/041315_FC_Presentation_RacialEquity.pdf

Missouri Revised Statute 476.803.1

Part 1 of the Statute that was revised in August 2014 to state:“The courts shall appoint qualified interpreters and translators in all legal proceedings in which the non-English speaking person is a party or a witness.” The Commission calls for another revision that seeks to ensure that children have a non-familial first option translator in court.
Source:Missouri General Assembly, http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/47600008031.html

Racial Equity

Framework that promotes actions designed to address historic burdens and present day barriers to equal opportunities through the elimination of systemic racially discriminatory policies and practices.
Source:Rudy Nickens of MODOT and referenced authors, http://stlpositivechange.org/sites/default/files/meeting_attachments/041315_FC_Presentation_RacialEquity.pdf

Racial Healing

The restoration and repair of racialized social and opportunity structures that have caused emotional and physical suffering.
Source:W. K. Kellogg Foundation Board and Executive Council, http://stlpositivechange.org/sites/default/files/meeting_attachments/040815_CWB_Presentation.pdf

Structural Racism

A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time.
Source:Aspen Institute, http://www.aspeninstitute.org/sites/default/files/content/docs/rcc/RCC-Structural-Racism-Glossary.pdf

Trauma-Informed

A program, organization, or system that:a) Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; b) Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; c) Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and d) Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.
Source:Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), http://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/trauma-interventions

Unconscious Bias

A rigid belief, positive, or negative, about a group of people that is based on limited evidence; this belief informs and can lead to microaggressions, lack of awareness of privilege, internalized racism, racism, and the belief in colorblindness.
Source:Rudy Nickens of MODOT and referenced authors, http://stlpositivechange.org/sites/default/files/meeting_attachments/041315_FC_Presentation_RacialEquity.pdf

Ensuring Robust Minority Participation in the Job Market

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Federal Reserve economists conducted an analysis of factors impacting per capita income growth and the growth of metropolitan areas at large for nearly 120 metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. as part of a report for the Fund for Our Economic Future based in Northeast Ohio (Eberts et al., 2006). The researchers identified eight key variables that influence economic growth on the regional level, including a region’s skilled workforce, active small businesses, ethnic diversity and minority business ownership, level of racial inclusion, costs associated with a declining industrial base, income inequality (measured by income disparity and number of children living in poverty), quality of life variables (including universities, recreation, and transportation), and concentrated poverty in core cities (Eberts et al., 2006).
  • In 2007, 8.9 percent of firms in Missouri were minority-owned (Obuko & Planting, 2015).
  • A 2014 disparity study commissioned by the State of Missouri Office of Administration found, “extensive evidence that discrimination on the basis of race and gender continues to operate in Missouri’s markets and that disparities exist between the availability of M/WBEs and their utilization on state contracts and associated subcontracts, as well as throughout the wider Missouri economy”(State of Missouri Office of Administration, 2014).
  • The same study calculated disparity indexes to investigate the presence of discrimination by dividing a given group’s utilization by the availability of that group. An index less than 100 percent indicates that a given group is being utilized less than would be expected based on its availability, and courts have adopted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s “80 percent” rule that a ratio less than 80 percent presents a prima facie case of discrimination, referred to as “substantive” significance (Code of Federal Regulations). The index ratio for the Black population was 60.2 percent, 6.5 percent for the Hispanic population, and 32.8 percent for White women (State of Missouri Office of Administration, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for ensuring robust minority participation in business.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Prioritizing Youth-Focused Job Creation and Training

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • On a national scale, employment rates showed a ‘Great Age Twist’ between 2000 and 2011. Individuals under age 54 were less likely to be working in 2011 than in 2000, while those 55 and over were more likely to be working in 2011, a phenomenon the Brookings Institute calls “historically unprecedented” (Sum et al., 2014).
  • Over the last 10 years youth employment has dropped by 20 percentage points from around 44 percent to around 24 percent (Sum et al., 2014).
  • Approximately 17 percent of 16-19 year olds were “unengaged”, or not enrolled in school and not working, in 2007 (Covenant House Institute, 2009). Unengaged youth are:
    • Less likely to be employed and more likely to rely on government supports.
    • Less healthy. They are more likely to have spent time in a mental hospital in the past five years and more likely to have received drug/alcohol treat.
    • More likely to be involved in criminal activity. Though they represent only 17.3% of all youth, they commit 63% of all youth crime (Belfield et al., 2012).
  • The economic burden of unengaged youth is felt by the youth, as well as taxpayers and society. The average unengaged youth costs taxpayers over $250,000 over the course of their lifetime (age 16 and on) and over $750,000 in social burden (e.g., lost gross earnings, additional health expenditures, crime costs, welfare and social services) (Belfield et al., 2012).
  • There are several long-term benefits of early employment:
    • Higher earnings in adulthood (Sum et al.,2000)
    • Higher graduation rates (Leos‐Urbel, 2014; Schwartz et al., 2015).
    • Lower likelihood of being incarcerated and/or committing crime (Belfield et al., 2012)
  • Worldwide, 31 percent of employers are struggling to fill available positions despite the economic downturn—not because there aren’t enough workers, but because of “a talent mismatch between workers’ qualifications and the specific skill sets and combinations of skills employers want” (Manpower, 2010). Changing demographics will exacerbate this situation. Over the next decade or so, the knowledge and technical skills of millions of retiring baby boomers need to be replaced (Partnership for 21st Century Skills 2010).
  • The State of St. Louis Workforce annual survey showed that the shortage of workers with knowledge or skills is the most frequently cited (by area employers) barrier to expanding employment (St. Louis Community College, 2015).
  • In the tightening labor market, employers’ flexibility in selecting a qualified workforce has diminished and they are increasingly required to address training and development of their workforce and/or pay higher wages (St. Louis Community College, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several recommendations that call for prioritizing youth-focused job creation and training.

Bolstering Employer-Educator Collaboration

The expert research, scholarship, and testimony of lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • According to economist and workforce development expert Harry Holzer, community colleges provide the majority of job training in the U.S. (Holzer, 2013).
  • Studies have found that successful job training programs involve educators collaborating with employers to design curricula (Eyster, Anderson, & Durham, 2013; Department of Labor, 2014; Mazzara & Horowitz, 2014). In addition employers may provide instruction; sponsor work study, internship, or apprenticeship positions; and provide funds for training.
  • In their 2015 survey of employers, St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group noted that “the shortage of workers with knowledge or skills was the most frequently cited barrier to expanding employment, surpassing economic conditions and government policies or regulations” (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015).
  • When employers were surveyed about their methods for skill acquisition for their workforce, 55 percent of employers reported experiencing skill shortages (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015). When asked to report on methods to address these shortages, 83 percent of the employers surveyed reported that they “were forced to hire less experienced workers and train them,” while 41 percent reported “offering increased wages due to skill shortages” (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015).
  • The Obama Administration put in place regulations related to gainful employment that went into effect on July 1st, 2015. The regulations were intended to address the fact that too often, “students at career colleges—including thousands of veterans—are charged excessive costs, but don’t get the education they paid for. Instead, students in such programs are provided with poor quality training, often for low-wage jobs or in occupations where there are simply no job opportunities”. To the end of preventing students from being buried in debt, the Department of Education set up the following rules for for-profit colleges:
    • More rigorous accountability, such that programs at for-profit institutions that did not pass standards and that did not improve would become ineligible for federal student aid;
    • Transparency about student success, by requiring institutions to provide information about their programs, what their former students are earning, their success at graduating, and the amount of debt they accumulated.
    • Standards for career training programs, including programs offered by for-profit institutions (Department of Education, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action that strengthen coordination, communication, accountability, and transparency between employers and educational institutions.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Enhancing Access to Transportation

The expert testimony, scholarship, and accounts of lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • As stated by the Transportation Equity Caucus, “Transportation is a critical link to opportunity, connecting people to jobs, schools, affordable housing, health care, grocery stores, and more. For many Americans, mobility can make all the difference in their ability to meet basic needs, participate fully in community life, and connect and contribute to our national economy” (Transportation Equity Caucus, 2014).
  • Research by the Brookings Institution notes:“While St. Louis ranks 19th in the country in terms of population, compared to other U.S. cities, it ranks only 68th in terms of transit coverage and access to jobs by transit” (Brookings Institution). This ranking accounts for access to opportunity via transportation, as well as affordability and availability of transportation choices.
    • A typical St. Louis resident with access to transit can reach 13 times fewer jobs by a 45 minute transit commute than by a 45 minute driving commute (East-West Gateway Council of Governments, 2015).
    • Approximately one in four of the region’s jobs are reachable within a 90-minute transit trip (Osborne et al., 2015). This becomes problematic when evaluating racial equity and access to opportunity:23.5 percent of Black households do not have access to a car in St. Louis, as compared to 5.2 percent of White households (East-West Gateway Council of Governments, 2015).
  • In terms of economic impact, the lack of transportation choices in the city and its reliance upon cars “has helped raised the cost of transportation for everyone — the average household in the City of St. Louis spends 19 percent of its budget on transportation, and in the County that number rises to 23 percent, reducing the region’s overall affordability” (Osborne et al., 2015).
  • In terms of environmental impact, public transit reduces pollution, energy use, and congestion on roads. However, in the region, “only 2.3 percent of workers used public transit to get to work in 2012 and only 56.6 percent of workers reside in areas that have access to transit” (East-West Gateway Council of Governments, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action that encourage increased use of public transportation and the allocation of financial resources to support regional transportation enhancements.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Optimizing Existing Housing Support

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • The nation is facing a housing crisis (Desmond, 2015). The number of market-rate housing units affordable for lower-income families has decreased substantially (Poethig et al., 2015). In 2013, St. Louis City had 21 market-rate units available per 100 extremely-low income (ELI) families (i.e., those earning less than 30 percent of the area median income) (Poethig et al., 2015).
  • Recent research suggests that the lack of stable housing is a primary driver of high healthcare costs and poorer health outcomes for lower-income people (Taylor et al., 2015). When provided housing support, lower-income, high-need individuals use fewer healthcare resources, leading to substantial net savings (Taylor et al., 2015).
  • Underutilization of land is a problem. Currently, under the direction of the Land Reutilization Authority — the nation’s first land bank, the City of St. Louis administers over 10,000 vacant units available, with nearly 11,000 additional vacant or abandoned parcels remaining within the city limits (Phillips, 2015).
  • According to a study comparing 2009 and 2011 census data, approximately 43 percent of renters in St. Louis are carrying an unaffordable cost burden defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as spending over 35 percent of household income on housing. Qualification for affordable housing as roughly less than one-third of a family’s income (Flanagan & Schwartz, 2013).
  • According to a 2012 St. Louis County Housing Study focused on the North County and Lemay areas, a number of factors have necessitated additional housing support (Development Strategies, 2012). Since 2005 in North County alone, approximately 13 of every 100 homes experienced foreclosure. In addition, vacancy in the same area is double that of surrounding regions at over 10 percent of the housing stock (Development Strategies, 2012).
  • A network of housing supports is designed to serve low-income families including:
    • Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers:“The Section 8 voucher program is the largest housing subsidy for low-income Americans. Section 8 is federally funded and administered by HUD, but managed by local housing authorities. Within the St. Louis metropolitan area, eight different housing authorities operate Section 8 programs.” (Metzger, 2014).
    • The national Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program is the nation’s largest rental housing production program (Freedman & McGavock, 2015). “It operates by providing a subsidy to rental housing developers in return for a commitment to charge below-market rent levels. Rents for these units must be set at levels that are deemed affordable for households with moderately-low income levels for the local area, and the units are set aside for residents at or below this income ceiling” (Turner & Kingsley, 2008).
    • Housing Trust Funds:Both St. Louis City and County operate housing trust funds with the mission of awarding grants and loans to developers, neighborhood organizations, and nonprofits in order to increase access to affordable housing for low-income individuals and families (Affordable Housing Commission, 2014).
    • Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs):CDBGs are awarded by HUD in support of a wide range of community development needs including neighborhood stabilization and affordable housing development (Department of Housing and Urban Development).
  • Families who are better housed in more-resourced neighborhoods enjoy the kinds of opportunities for themselves and their children that may induce broader social and economic inclusion and growth for a community (Chetty et al., 2015). HUD designed and implemented the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration study to assess the effects of providing housing vouchers to help low-income families move from severely distressed, high-poverty housing projects to low-poverty neighborhoods. This policy change is a recognition of the ineffectiveness of current housing policy in addressing concentrations of poverty. The MTO Final Evaluation found significant gains in health, work, and education among those families that spent the greatest amount of time in high-opportunity neighborhoods (Sanbonmatsu et al, 2011). In light of these and other findings, housing support systems are increasingly pushing towards measures that distribute low-income housing across communities as opposed to allowing high concentrations in impoverished neighborhoods.
  • Studies suggest that housing discrimination can result in housing-choice voucher recipients being denied access by landlords who want to keep low-income families away (Austin Tenants’ Council, 2012). Housing support recipients often have little choice and end up in high-poverty areas with underperforming schools and high crime rates (Austin Tenants’ Council, 2012).

 

 

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several recommendations that aim to improve housing support and affordability for low-income households.

 

To that end, the Commission issues the following calls to action:

Realigning Incentives and Funding to Improve Job Training and Creation

Realigning Incentives and Funding to Improve Job Training and Creation

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Federal Reserve economists conducted an analysis of factors impacting per capita income growth and the growth of metropolitan areas at large for nearly 120 metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. as part of a report for the Fund for Our Economic Future based in Northeast Ohio (Eberts et al., 2006). The researchers identified eight key variables that influence economic growth on the regional level, including a region’s skilled workforce, active small businesses, ethnic diversity and minority business ownership, level of racial inclusion, costs associated with a declining industrial base, income inequality (measured by income disparity and number of children living in poverty), quality of life variables (including universities, recreation, and transportation), and concentrated poverty in core cities (Eberts et al., 2006).
  • Although unemployment rates have gone down in the St. Louis region in the past five years, finding employment still remains an issue for many, specifically low and very-low income residents (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).
  • The State of St. Louis Workforce annual survey showed that a shortage of workers with knowledge or skills is the most frequently cited (by area employers) barrier to expanding employment–a trend that has consistently grown over the past several years (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015).
  • In the tightening labor market, employers’ flexibility in selecting a qualified workforce has diminished, and they are increasingly required to address training and development of their workforce and/or pay higher wages (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015).
  • There are jobs available for people with a lower level of education and work experience, and there exists on-the-job training and tuition reimbursement programs provided by employers, but there also remain barriers to effective job training and creation in the region. Considering the large disparities facing the poor, minorities, and the long-term unemployed, direct job creation may help to generate net increases in labor demand, though with a high price over the short term (Holzer 2012a; King 2011).
  • At times, tax credits, such as the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, have been used to incentivize hiring of certain groups of disadvantaged workers. But research suggests that these public tax credits for private-sector employment have failed to provide necessary returns on investment (Holzer 2012a). Estimated outcomes of these credits suggest positive employment effects on employment while such programs are in place, but few lasting effects for workers over time (Holzer 2012a).
  • A review of workforce programs enacted since 2000 has “demonstrated the value of training and workforce services, especially for disadvantaged individuals” (Ridley & Kenefick, 2011).
  • One size does not fit all in terms of job training programs and models, especially for disadvantaged men (age 25 or older) (Greenberg 2003; Holzer 2012a). And a consistent thread through previous research indicates that existing employment training programs fail to serve job seekers with particular challenges, including severe mental illness, long-term employment, or very little education (Holzer 2012a; Holzer 2012b).
  • Research has identified factors that make a job training program more likely to be successful (U.S. Department of Labor, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action that address incentives for job training and creation.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Building Equity through Enhanced Access to Banking

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • As stated by researcher Martha Beard of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:“The word unbanked is an umbrella term used to describe diverse groups of individuals who do not use banks or credit unions for their financial transactions. They have neither a checking nor savings account… Underbanked consumers have either a checking or savings account, but also rely on alternative financial services” (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2010).
  • In 2013, nearly 30 percent of Missouri households were un- or underbanked, and a disproportionate number of them were Black (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 2014).
  • When people do not feel comfortable with or have convenient access to or knowledge of mainstream, traditional banking options, they often turn to alternative financial services (e.g., check cashers, payday lenders, pay cards, etc.) that are expensive and that provide scant means for savings that leads to wealth (U.S. Department of Treasury, 2011). As noted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “unbanked consumers spend approximately 2.5 to 3 percent of a government benefits check and between 4 percent and 5 percent of payroll check just to cash them. Additional dollars are spent to purchase money orders to pay routine monthly expenses. When you consider the cost for cashing a bi-weekly payroll check and buying about six money orders each month, a household with a net income of $20,000 may pay as much as $1,200 annually for alternative service fees—substantially more than the expense of a monthly checking account fee” (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2010).
  • Un- and underbanked individuals also miss out on valuable educational resources to build financial literacy, including important tools, products, services, and delivery channels that are critical to establishing a foundation for wealth accumulation and to reducing poverty (U.S. Department of Treasury, 2011). This gap in knowledge and relevant tools makes it harder for un- and underbanked individuals to build wealth.
  • There are limited banking facilities in distressed communities.  Limited access to banks, coupled with distrust of and unfamiliarity with the traditional banking system, leads many in such communities to be unbanked or underbanked (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2010). A New York Times investigation of bank branch closures found that a disproportionate number of closures take place in low-income communities:“In low-income areas, where the median household income was below $25,000, and in moderate-income areas, where the median household income was between $25,000 and $50,000, the number of branches declined by 396 between 2008 and 2010. In neighborhoods where household income was above $100,000, by contrast, 82 branches were added during the same period” (Schwartz, 2011). Accordingly, many low-income individuals are unbanked because they lack access to banking facilities.
  • The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is a federal law designed to encourage financial institutions to meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their community, including low and moderate income neighborhoods (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2014). The CRA mandates evaluations of depository institutions through a lending test, investment test, and service test. As these tests currently stand, however, compliance ratings are structured and managed subjectively by officials (Quercia et al., 2014). More than 98 percent of banks and thrifts receive passing “Satisfactory” or “Outstanding” ratings, but their quality of outreach and disclosure, risk-tolerance to investment, and quality of delivery channels are not guaranteed (Quercia et al., 2014).
  • Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions with the mission of “responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream” (Opportunity Finance Network). CDFIs tend to serve those who need greater levels of risk-tolerance than most banks are willing to accept. In order to operate effectively, however, CDFIs rely heavily on adequate funding that allows CDFIs to remove barriers keeping many low-income individuals from engaging with the traditional banking structure (e.g., inconvenience, lack of knowledge, high credit check standards when opening accounts, high minimum balance requirements, etc.) (Pinsky, 2001).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action that build equity through enhanced access to banking, especially for low-income individuals and families.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Ensuring Communities’ Ability to Advocate for Equity

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In July 2015, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed HB 722, a bill that would have, among other things, prevented cities from raising employment benefits above state and federal standards (Missouri House of Representatives, 2015). Governor Nixon noted:“House Bill No. 722 is a clear example of unwarranted government intrusion – in this case, interference with the policymaking of local governments and the abandonment of the principle of local control… Because I support local control, I will not approve House Bill No. 722” (Nixon, 2015).
  • Estimates place the hourly living wage in the St. Louis region roughly between $10 for a single adult to $30 for a family of one working adult and three children (Glasmeier, 2015).
  • The threshold for minimum wage is set at the federal level at $7.25, but states have the right to create legislation above this standard. Missouri’s minimum wage beginning is currently $7.65.
  • Collective bargaining, is the practice of organizing workers into a single voice, usually in the form of a labor union, to advocate on the behalf of their colleagues in negotiations with employers. Research has shown the impact of deunionization:
    • “From 1973 to 2011, the share of the workforce represented by unions declined from 26.7 percent to 13.1 percent” (Mishel, 2012).
    • “Deunionization explains about three-fourths of the expanded wage gap between white- and blue-collar men and over a fifth of the expanded wage gap between high school– and college-edu­cated men from 1978 to 2011” (Mishel, 2012).
    • “Deunionization can explain about a third of the entire growth of wage inequality among men and around a fifth of the growth among women from 1973 to 2007 (Mishel, 2012).

These factors promoted the Commission to affirm the ability of local governments and workers to advocate for equity.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below. 

Ending Poverty

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Federal Reserve economists conducted an analysis of factors impacting per capita income growth and the growth of metropolitan areas at large for nearly 120 metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. as part of a report for the Fund for Our Economic Future based in Northeast Ohio (Eberts et al., 2006). The researchers identified eight key variables that influence economic growth on the regional level, including a region’s skilled workforce, active small businesses, ethnic diversity and minority business ownership, level of racial inclusion, costs associated with a declining industrial base, income inequality (measured by income disparity and number of children living in poverty), quality of life variables (including universities, recreation, and transportation), and concentrated poverty in core cities (Eberts et al., 2006).
  • In 2013, Missouri had a population of 6,021,988 of which 947,792 were at 100% or below of the Federal Poverty Level (Missourians to End Poverty Coalition, 2014). Of those, roughly half, or 417,151, lived in extreme poverty defined as 50% or less than the Federal Poverty Level (Missourians to End Poverty Coalition, 2014).
  • A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition recently found that the average hourly wage necessary to afford a basic two-bedroom apartment in St. Louis is $15.69 (Bolton et al., 2015). This value was calculated based on HUD’s estimated Fair Market Rent (FMR) and the idea that a family or individual would not spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs (Bolton et al., 2015).
  • MIT’s Living Wage Calculator “draws on geographically specific expenditure data related to a family’s likely minimum food, child care, health insurance, housing, transportation, and other basic necessities (e.g. clothing, personal care items, etc.) costs to determine the minimum employment earnings necessary to meet a family’s basic needs while also maintaining self-sufficiency” (Glasmeier et al., 2014). It shows that, in St. Louis City, the living hourly wage for one adult to support him/herself is $9.94. For a family of one adult and one child, the living wage rises to $20.55 (Glasmeier et al., 2015). Researchers suggest that “in many American communities, families working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to live locally given the local cost of living” (Glasmeier et al., 2014).
  • Debate exists over the short- and long-term economic implications of raising the minimum wage. However, a group of economists, in a written statement to the U.S. House of Representatives, suggested that a well-designed phase-in process for a higher minimum wage would allow businesses to absorb labor cost increases through modest increases in prices and productivity while also permitting low-wage workers to receive a slightly larger share of the business’ total revenue (U.S. House of Representatives, 2015). The economists stated:“On average, in the United States, even fast-food restaurants, which employ a disproportionate share of minimum wage workers, are likely to see their overall business costs increase by only about 2.8 percent per year” (U.S House of Representatives, 2015).
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples; the amount of benefit depends on the recipient’s income and number of children (Flores, 2015). As suggested by the Missouri Budget Project, EITCs encourage people to work, enhance take-home pay, and improve health and economic and educational outcomes (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2014). If implemented in Missouri, the EITC could benefit approximately 500,000 families (Missouri Budget Project, 2015).
  • The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a tax credit designed for low- to moderate- income families to offset the cost of raising children. The tax credit is worth up to $1,000 per eligible child, and is adjusted by income for individuals with qualifying children under the age of 17 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2014).
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that in 2012, the EITC lifted 6.7 million people (including 3.4 million children) above the poverty line, while the CTC lifted 2.7 million people (including 1.4 million children) above the poverty line. (Sherman & Trisi, 2015). Research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also noted:In 2013, the CTC lifted approximately 3.1 million people out of poverty, including about 1.7 million children (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2014).
  • As delineated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation:“Payday loans are small-dollar, short-term, unsecured loans that borrowers promise to repay out of their next paycheck or regular income payment… Because these loans have such short terms to maturity, the cost of borrowing, expressed as an annual percentage rate, can range from 300 percent to 1,000 percent, or more” (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 2003).
  • Low-income households in Missouri with limited access to credit might seek payday loans to handle increased expenditures. However, payday lending firms can impose abusive loan terms on a borrower, convincing the borrower to accept unfair terms that a borrower does not need, does not want, or cannot afford (Center for Responsible Lending).
  • During 2008, 2.8 million payday loans were made by 1,275 lenders licensed in Missouri, according to the Missouri Division of Finance (Teuscher, 2009). In their “Poverty at Issue” research report, University of Missouri researchers note that “there are over twice as many payday loan stores in Missouri as there are McDonald’s restaurants and Starbucks combined” (University of Missouri, 2012).
  • Compared to the surrounding eight states, Missouri has:
    • The highest average annual percentage rates (APRs) of interest [at an average of 445% APR in 2011]
    • The second most payday lenders (Tennessee is ranked higher)
    • Is the only state to allow loan renewals (University of Missouri, 2012).
  • In Missouri, nearly 50% of payday loan borrowers eventually defaulted on a loan, even after they had paid over 90% of the loan amount in fees alone (University of Missouri, 2012). Once a borrower defaulted, no matter whether the fees or interest they had paid over time exceeded the original loan amount, the borrower was subject to bounced check fees and aggressive debt collection tactics by the payday lender, in addition to overdraft fees from the bank (University of Missouri, 2012).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for changes to economic policy to help bring individuals and families out of poverty.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Promoting Asset Building

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Research shows that increasing income for low-income families does not always increase generational wealth or reduce poverty (Shapiro et al., 2013). Income is often used as a measure of poverty; however, it does not provide as adequate a measure of an individual, family, or community’s economic mobility and long-term development. While income supports consumption or “getting by,” asset-building is a form of social investment that promotes development and “getting ahead” (Blank & Barr, 2009).
  • Saving and investing in education, skills, experience, a house, land, an enterprise, financial securities, or other assets improve families’ capabilities, earnings, and life circumstances over time and across generations (Sherraden, 2008).
  • There exist deep racial divides in asset building. In 2009, approximately 15 percent of Whites had zero or negative net worth, while up to 35 percent of people of color had zero or negative net worth (Kochhar et al., 2011). Whites’ median net worth is far greater—in the range of 1000 percent (ten times) greater—than that of Blacks and Latinos (Sherraden, 2008). In 2009, a representative survey of American households found that the median wealth (assets minus debts) of white families was $113,149 compared with $6,325 for Latino families and $5,677 for black families (Kochhar et al., 2011). Another study of the same set of households over a 25-year period (1984-2009) found that the total wealth gap between White and Black families nearly tripled, from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2002 (Shapiro et al., 2013).
  • According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, many lower-income families do not benefit from existing federal wealth-building policies (Woo et al., 2010). “The wealthiest Americans (those earning over $1 million annually) receive more than $95,000 in tax benefits while middle-income families receive a few hundred dollars and poor families relying on public benefits actually face penalties for saving” (Woo et al., 2010).
  • As defined by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, Children’s Development Accounts (CDAs) are accounts established for children as early as birth and are seeded with an initial deposit (Corporation for Enterprise Development, 2008). Through CDAs, youth can participate in early asset accumulation and long-term development of financial security towards higher education, future homeownership, and entrepreneurship (Corporation for Enterprise Development, 2008).
  • Building assets for education in the long term correlates with improvements in school retention, better social/emotional development for children, and enhanced financial literacy (Sherraden, 2008; Corporation for Enterprise Development, 2008; Mason et al., 2009). Studies have also shown that the benefits of CDAs for children and families reverberate in communities and the larger economy because they affect communities that are often left out of economic development (Corporation for Enterprise Development, 2008; Mason et al., 2009).
  • Similar accounts, called family development accounts and individual development accounts, seek to further increase asset building. Although these programs vary in design, they all provide matching funds to low-income recipients to promote savings that can be spent later on eligible uses such as higher education, microenterprise, and homeownership (Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2012).
  • Expanding access to mainstream financial literacy services and counseling provides additional infrastructure to promote asset-building for low-income families (Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2012).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several recommendations that facilitate generational economic mobility in low-income families by promoting asset building.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Increasing Access to Care

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Adults with insurance are more likely to have a usual source of care and access to preventive care (Ayanian et. al., 2000). Insured adults are therefore more likely to be up-to-date with their immunizations, more likely to receive cost-effective care, and are healthier (Ayanian et. al., 2000).
  • Overall, uninsured people receive about half as much care as the privately insured (Ayanian et. al., 2000). Uninsured individuals are more than twice as likely to delay or forgo needed care as the insured (Kaiser, 2012). Delaying or forgoing needed care can lead to health problems, making the uninsured more likely to be hospitalized for avoidable conditions (Kaiser, 2012). The uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases—and as a result, many suffer serious consequences (Kaiser, 2012).
  • As of 2014, over half (55 percent) of uninsured nonelderly people in Missouri were eligible for financial assistance in gaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014a).
  • The ACA also authorized additional funding for states to expand Medicaid programs to cover adults under the age of 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty limit. States are allowed to decide whether to accept these funds and expand Medicaid. Missouri is one of 19 states (currently) that have not yet expanded Medicaid (Families USA, 2015). As a result, the Medicaid coverage for adults in Missouri is limited to those who have a dependent child and earn no more than approximately 18 percent of the poverty level, or roughly $2,900/year for a single mother with two children. Childless individuals are not eligible for Medicaid under any income circumstances unless they are disabled or pregnant.
  • There is an absence of options for childless adults making between 0 and 100 percent of the federal poverty level, and for parents making between 18 and 100 percent of the federal poverty level, otherwise known as the coverage “gap.” Under the ACA, Medicaid expansion was intended to cover the many individuals making too little to qualify for subsidies on the exchange (those earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level). In Missouri, though, these individuals qualify for neither Medicaid nor federal subsidies to help with the purchase of private insurance. That means a family of four earning up to $95,000 a year qualifies for assistance (on the exchange). A similar family earning $23,000 does not. In Missouri, nearly 200,000 adults fall into this gap. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014b).
  • Until Missouri expands Medicaid, it must sustain funding for services like the Gateway to Better Health Demonstration granted to the State of Missouri by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This Demonstration provides limited coverage to low-income, uninsured adults in St. Louis City and County (Regional Health Commission, 2014). The primary and specialty care made possible by this funding serves approximately 22,000 individuals and families and reduces reliance upon emergency rooms as sources of primary care. It is estimated that Gateway prevents on the order of 50,000-70,000 emergency department visits each year (Regional Health Commission, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for that call for ensuring access to care for more Missourians.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Fostering Racial Equity

Racial equity is an overarching theme underpinning the work of the Commission and the calls to action it proposes. Racial disparities extend to employment, education, housing, transportation, and the application of justice. Those topics are addressed throughout these pages. What is found below is a big-picture sense of racial disparity in the area.

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Racial equity refers to the capacity of our region to create, manage, and distribute resources in a way that gives people from all racial backgrounds the opportunity to thrive.
  • Economists estimate that the 2012 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the St. Louis region would have been 10 percent higher– $151.3 billion instead of $137.57 billion–if there had not been a racial income gap (Public Policy Research Center, 2015).
  • The St. Louis region ranks 42 out of 50 large metropolitan areas for economic mobility, defined as a person, family or group’s ability to improve their economic status by moving up in income (Chetty, 2014).
  • Researchers found that less racial segregation is one of the five predictors of upward economic mobility (Chetty, 2014). St. Louis currently is the fifth most segregated metropolitan area in the country (Ihnen, 2013).
  • At its extreme in the St. Louis region, life expectancy differs by nearly 40 years depending on zip code (Comprehensive Planning Division, 2015). In mostly white, suburban Wildwood, MO., the life expectancy is 91.4 years; in the mostly black, inner-ring suburb of Kinloch, MO., it’s 55.9 years (St. Louis County Health Department, 2015). The reality behind those numbers is a complex, interconnected set of socioeconomic factors, including disparities in access to quality housing, healthcare, education and employment. Researchers estimate that nationwide, in one year alone, premature death associated with low levels of education and poverty among Black individuals costs $3.3 billion (Purnell et al., 2014).
  • The National Urban League Policy Institute found that racial disparities in health cost the U.S. $60 billion in excess medical costs and $22 billion in lost productivity in 2009 (National Urban League Policy Institute, 2012). They projected that if these health disparities remain, the burden will rise to $126 billion by 2020 and $363 billion by 2050 (National Urban League Policy Institute, 2012). An additional economic loss due to premature deaths was valued at $250 billion in 2009 (National Urban League Policy Institute, 2012).
  • In St. Louis, Black individuals are significantly more likely than White individuals to suffer from several chronic diseases and conditions including obesity, asthma, and diabetes (Purnell et al., 2014). There are differences between Black and White individuals for several chronic diseases and conditions (Purnell et al., 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for intentional efforts to face racial inequity head-on and create a future of promise for all citizens in the state.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Expanding Civilian Oversight

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown, public perception of police legitimacy and effectiveness and trust in procedural justice have decreased as compared to before the shooting. Public estimates of frequency of misconduct have gone up (Kochel, 2015).
  • According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “A civilian review board is an entity external to the police department’s internal affairs, and consists of citizens from outside the department, appointed by the mayor or other senior government officials. A civilian review board is generally charged with the duty of reviewing complaints and making recommendations as to disciplinary action after the police department has completed its own investigation and made a disciplinary recommendation” (West Virginia Advisory Committee to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2004).
  • Civilian review of complaints regarding police misconduct empowers citizens to participate in the oversight of decisions by officers and agencies (Walker, 2001).
  • Civilian review boards have been growing in popularity for the past several decades in large part due to the community policing movement and its emphasis on police accountability (Finn, 2001). An integral part of this movement is the development of police-community partnerships and an enhanced role for the public (Bayley, 1994; 1996; Grinc, 1994; Kerley and Benson, 2000; Maguire and Mastrofski, 2000).
  • The National Institute of Justice has observed:“[T]here is no single model of citizen oversight. However, most procedures have features that fall into one of four types of oversight systems:
    • Type 1:Citizens investigate allegations of police misconduct and recommend findings to the chief or sheriff.
    • Type 2:Police officers investigate allegations and develop findings; citizens review and recommend that the chief or sheriff approve or reject the findings.
    • Type 3:Complainants may appeal findings established by the police or sheriff’s department to citizens, who review them and then recommend their own findings to the chief or sheriff.
    • Type 4:An auditor investigates the process by which the police or sheriff’s department accepts and investigates complaints and reports on the thoroughness and fairness of the process to the department and the public” (Finn, 2001).
  • When measured in 2002, about one in five large municipal police departments had a civilian review board of some variety (Hickman, 2006).
  • In 2002, those departments with a review board received more force complaints that those without a review board (11.09 complaints vs. 6.6 complaints per 100 officers) (Hickman, 2006).
  • Citizen oversight can be obtained at varying costs depending largely upon the purview the oversight boards are given, which determines the amount of support they need (Finn, 2001).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for the expansion of civilian oversight of law enforcement.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Encouraging Appropriate Use of Technology in Citizen-Law Enforcement Interactions

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) researched the police response to demonstrations that occurred after Michael Brown was killed in August 2014 and found that the use of military-grade weapons and vehicles was “inappropriate, inflamed tensions, and created fear among demonstrators” (DOJ, 2015). During the first week of the demonstrations, the police placed military-style, armored vehicles visibly in front of the community (DOJ, 2015).
  • Weapons like Tasers and tear gas were used in the St. Louis region during the unrest following Michael Brown’s death (DOJ, 2015). Nationally, in 2013, 81 percent of local law enforcement agencies have authorized their officers to use energy weapons, such as Tasers, against citizens, up from 60 percent in 2007 (BJS, 2015).
  • Technology often requires additional expenses including those needed for modifications and additions to legacy systems to support interoperability, additional training, and data storage.
  • In 2013, 71 percent of local police departments required their officers to wear protective armor at all time, up from 65 percent in 2007 (BJS, 2015). From 2007 to 2013, the proportion of local police departments that used in-car video cameras rose from 61 percent to 68 percent. And, nationally, in 2013, 32 percent of local police departments used body-cameras (BJS, 2015).
  • No national database exists to track the types and number of weapons and equipment that local police departments purchase using federal funding, or to track how those weapons and equipment are put to use (McCaskill, 2015a). There is likewise no reliable national data on the uses, composition, and sizes of SWAT teams, although it is estimated that the percentage of small towns in the United States that had SWAT teams has increased from 20 percent in the 1980s to 80 percent by the mid-2000s (McCaskill, 2015a). In the 1980s, SWAT teams were deployed approximately 3,000 times per year, but that number has grown to approximately 50,000 deployments per year (The Economist, 2015). In 2013 and 2014, 624 local police departments received Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) from the U.S. Department of Defense, which are vehicles that can weigh up to 17 tons, cost up to $600,000, and damage roads because of their weight (McCaskill, 2015a).
  • In 2015, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (MO) proposed legislation entitled, “Protecting Communities and Police Act” (McCaskill, 2015b). The bill is designed to reform the processes by which local law enforcement agencies receive weapons and equipment from the federal government, increase training requirements for police departments, and improve data collection on the uses of weapons and equipment by local police departments (McCaskill, 2015b).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action to encourage policy changes regarding the use of technology by law enforcement with the hope that these calls will help eliminate unsafe and unnecessary police practices, increase accountability and data collection of police departments, and improve citizens’ trust and confidence in the police.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Conducting Just Use of Force Investigations

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In the United States, immigrant communities and ethnic minorities often become disproportionate targets of the traditional crime control model that uses physical force (Simmons, 2010). New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) found that while Blacks comprised 23 percent of the city’s population, they represented 55 percent of reported victims of alleged police misconduct from 2008 to 2013; Hispanics were 29 percent of the population and accounted for 26 percent of complaints; and Whites were 34 percent of the population but only 9% of the alleged victims of police misconduct (N.Y.C. Civilian, 2014). In 2013, 53 percent of all complaints against police departments were for alleged misconduct in use of force (N.Y.C. Civilian, 2014). The most severe of these instances of use of force resulted in the death of a civilian.
  • Police-involved deaths are generally investigated through a two-pronged approach. The first investigation, which is aimed at determining whether an officer has committed a crime, is usually conducted internally by detectives from a homicide squad or force investigation squad (L.A. Police Department, 2014; Katz, 2015). The first stage may be conducted by a neighboring department if the officer’s own agency is too small and doesn’t have the resources (Sullivan, 2014; Katz, 2015). With the findings of this investigation in hand, the local prosecutor determines whether to file charges against the officer through procedures that might involve convening a grand jury, depending on the jurisdiction (Sullivan, 2014). The second investigation considers whether or not the officer disregarded department policies (Sullivan, 2014; Katz, 2015).
  • A large collection of research demonstrates that “public perceptions of the fairness of the justice system in the United States are more significant in shaping its legitimacy than perceptions that it is effective” (Katz, 2015; Hough et al., 2010).
  • Opinion polls taken after the death of Michael Brown demonstrate that significant cross-sections of the public did not have confidence in the investigations into the shooting (Pew Research, 2014; Peter Moore, 2014). For example, 76% of Black people surveyed by the Pew Research Center had little confidence or no confidence in the investigation of Mr. Brown’s shooting (Pew Research, 2014). In a poll by YouGov, less than half— only 42%—of Whites “trust[ed] the justice system to properly investigate” police-involved deaths, while a mere 19% of African Americans had such trust in the existing system (Moore, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action to change use-of-force investigations in an effort to create a fairer justice system and improve citizens’ trust and confidence in the investigation process for use-of-force incidents. In addition to the inputs noted at the beginning of this document, these recommendations are based on the research and work of a group of former U.S. Attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorneys based in St. Louis with the intent of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety in the prosecution of use of force cases.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Authorizing Appropriate Use of Force

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Following investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a report on March 4, 2015, which noted that Ferguson’s police sometimes violate citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights through the use of excessive force (DOJ, 2015). The DOJ’s report noted instances of unnecessary uses of Tasers, canines, and other force in the region, escalating rather than defusing tense situations. According to the DOJ report, “[t]he overwhelming majority of force–almost 90%–is used against African Americans” (DOJ, 2015). The report also noted that the Ferguson Police Department’s use-of-force review system is ineffective:officers’ use of force often goes unreported, and even when it is, meaningful review by supervisors is rare (DOJ, 2015).
  • The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has raised the issue that there is no nationally recognized definition for “use of force,” making it difficult to determine whether a specific instance of force was justified or excessive (NIJ, 2015). No national database exists, much less one in Missouri, to track all officer-involved shootings or excessive uses of force (NIJ, 2015).
  • In Tennessee v. Garner, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the use of deadly force against a fleeing unarmed suspect. The Court held that police officers may not use deadly force against such a suspect to prevent the suspect’s escape unless the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or others (Tennessee v. Garner, 1985).
  • In Missouri, police officers’ use of force in making an arrest is outlined in Chapter 563 of the Missouri Revised Statutes (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.046). Deviating from Tennessee v. Garner, § 563.046 permits an officer to use deadly force to effect an arrest where the officer “reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest” and also “reasonably believes that the person to be arrested … has committed or attempted to commit a felony” (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.046.3(2)(a)).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several recommendations calling for revisions to and training in police departments’ use-of-force policies, in an effort to eliminate excessive uses of force against citizens and improve citizens’ trust and confidence in the police.

Improving Officer Training

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In St. Louis City and the County, 75 percent of the police departments are unaccredited (Better Together, 2015). The State of Missouri does not require police departments to be accredited, perhaps explaining why in St. Louis City and County only 15 of 60 police departments are accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) or the Missouri Police Chiefs Charitable Foundation (MPCCF) (Better Together, 2015). Although there are requirements for individual officers to be licensed, the practice does not extend to the departments themselves (Better Together, 2015).
  • Disparities in training practices exist between St. Louis City and County’s 60 police departments (Better Together, 2015). For example, there are inconsistent psychological evaluation standards for police officer screenings; some departments require screening by a psychiatrist or psychologist, while others apply vague requirements, such as a finding of “good emotional health” (Better Together, 2015). Similar disparities exist between departments’ background-check processes (Better Together, 2015).
  • The large number of police departments in the St. Louis region makes it difficult to form effective partnerships between law enforcement agencies to combat crime and protect citizens (PERF, 2015). Such fragmentation is inefficient and subverts police operations (PERF, 2015).
  • One issue in police standards and professionalism in the St. Louis region is the shuffling of police officers among departments. For example, an officer who is fired for disciplinary or performance issues in one department may be swiftly rehired by a neighboring department, because it may be costlier to recruit and train new officers than to hire an experienced officer with a history of performance issues (PERF, 2015). Hiring officers who have been fired for disciplinary or performance issues in other departments can compromise the quality of policing in the region (PERF, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for changes to officer training to help improve the personal and professional lives of police officers and the citizens they serve.

To that end, the Commission issues the call to action below.

Promoting Officer Wellness

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • A study of an urban police department suggests that a police officer’s work environment, which includes exposure to potentially traumatic experiences, coupled with a police environment that values stoicism and self-reliance, can prove detrimental to an officer’s mental health (Fox, 2012). This environment also can contribute to at-work productivity loss, high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide and depression, and an impaired ability to effectively enforce the law and interact with community members (Fox, 2012).
    • Among 150 officers, approximately 24 percent had PTSD, 9 percent had depression, and 19 percent abused alcohol (Fox, 2012).
    • Nevertheless, of those studied, only 47 percent had ever accessed mental-health services (Fox, 2012).
    • “The most commonly cited barriers to accessing services were concerns regarding confidentiality and the potential ‘negative career impact’” (Fox, 2012).
    • “Officers with mental-health conditions had higher productivity loss than officers without a mental health condition (5.9% vs. 3.4%) at an annual cost of $4,489 per officer” (Fox, 2012).
  • A study using data from the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance found that police died from suicide 2.4 times as often as from homicides (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015). Although depression resulting from traumatic experiences is often the cause, routine work and life stressors—hostile communities, long shifts, and inadequate family or departmental support—contribute as well (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, 2015).
  • Studies of mental health training requirements and services across the country reveal a wide-ranging patchwork of policies that often provide insufficient resources to officers (Pauly, 2013).
  • Regulation of municipal police departments happens on the state-level, including hiring and training standards. There is no national standard governing how police recruit candidates, how candidates are psychologically evaluated, or whether or not such evaluations should be mandatory (Bernd, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft calls to action for enhanced efforts to promote officer wellness.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below. 

Restoring Relations Through Community Policing

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice, community policing is defined as “a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime” (Community Oriented Policing Services, 2014).
  • An integral part of the community policing movement is the development of police-community partnerships and an enhanced role for the public (Bayley, 1994; Grinc, 1994; Kerley & Benson, 2000; Maguire & Mastrofski, 2000).
  • In 2013, police departments with a community policing component employed 88% of all local police officers, an increase from a decade earlier (Reaves, 2015). “The largest increase was among departments serving fewer than 10,000 residents, from 39% in 2003 to 61% in 2013” (Reaves, 2015). A majority of departments had problem-solving partnerships or written agreements with community groups, local agencies, or other local organizations (Reaves, 2015).
  • A systematic review of 25 studies containing 65 independent assessments of community-oriented policing measures found that community policing strategies have the potential to positively impact citizen satisfaction and trust in the police (Gill et al., 2014). Citizen satisfaction with the police was evaluated in 23 comparisons, and community-oriented programs were found to be effective in increasing satisfaction in almost 80% of the cases (Gill et al., 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft calls to action for enhanced community policing to foster greater trust, satisfaction, and partnership between the community and law enforcement.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below. 

Re-Envisioning Response to Demonstration

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • On September 3, 2015, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released a thorough “After-Action Assessment of the Police Response,” detailing the 17 days following the shooting of Michael Brown (DOJ, 2015). In this investigation, four police departments (Ferguson, St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol) voluntarily submitted to in-depth interviews, document and data-log reviews, and physical visits, which were coupled with interviews with community members in Ferguson (DOJ, 2015). The assessment team arrived at a consensus identifying 48 findings and 113 “lessons learned” under 6 major themes:inconsistent leadership, failure to understand endemic problems in the community, a reactive rather than proactive strategy, inadequate communication and information sharing, use of ineffective and inappropriate strategies and tactics, and lack of law enforcement response continuity (DOJ, 2015).
  • According to the DOJ report, in the first 17 days alone, “more than 50 law enforcement agencies were involved in the police response in Ferguson” (DOJ, 2015). This decentralized system of agencies with different use-of-force policies, protocols for crowd control, training standards, and department cultures led to lapses in and uncertainty regarding the command structure within law enforcement and with demonstrators (Lithwick, 2014; Nolen, 2014; DOJ 2015).
  • The DOJ report identified several inconsistencies across law enforcement’s response to the Ferguson protests, including questionable use of tear gas, militarized weapons, and canine units. The report noted that, in light of the use of canines for crowd control during the 1960s civil rights movement, deployment of canine units in Ferguson undermined community trust (DOJ, 2015).
  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) offers several suggestions for creating a robust communication structure. Though there were improvements when protest groups met with police at several points to create “rules of engagement” at demonstrations, without the formal institutionalization of this system there continued to be consistent breakdowns (Lowry, 2014). The IACP model policy for Crowd Management and Control also institutes an incident command system specific to mass demonstration when multiple law enforcement agencies are involved, as well as use-of-force guidelines (IACP, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft calls to action for changes to law enforcement response to demonstration with the hope that these calls will help eliminate miscommunication and unsafe demonstration environments.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Strengthening Anti-Bias and Cultural Competency

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In 2014, a Gallup poll found that 60 percent of White Americans expressed more trust in police than nonwhites did (49 percent) (McCarthy, 2014).
  • In 2014, Black drivers in Missouri were 75 percent more likely than White drivers to be stopped by police (Koster, 2014). The difference was only 31 percent in the year 2000 (Koster, 2014). Also in 2014, Black drivers were stopped on Missouri roads at a rate 66 percent greater than what was expected, given their proportion of the population of people aged 16 and older (Koster, 2014).
  • Besides data on motorist stops, “search rate” data is used to assess racial profiling in policing (Koster, 2014). In 2014, Black drivers were 1.73 times more likely and Hispanics were 1.90 times more likely to be searched than Whites (Koster, 2014). Although Black drivers were more likely to be searched in 2014, White drivers were more likely to have contraband discovered by police in their cars during searches than Black or Hispanic drivers (Koster, 2014).
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2015 report on the Ferguson Police Department, Black people in Ferguson accounted for 88 percent of all cases of reported police use of force from 2010 to August 2014 (Department of Justice, 2015). Black people in Ferguson accounted for all of the documented cases of uses of force involving a canine bite during that time as well (Department of Justice, 2015). Also from 2010 to August 2014, Black people in Ferguson accounted for 95 percent of all Manner of Walking charges, 94 percent of all Failure to Comply charges, 92 percent of all Resisting Arrest charges, 92 percent of all Peace Disturbance charges, and 89 percent of all Failure to Obey charges (Department of Justice, 2015).
  • The stereotype of Black Americans as violent and criminal has been well documented by social scientists in nearly 60 years of research (Eberhardt, et. al., 2004). Research has led social psychologists to conclude that the bias that happens during policing today is more likely to manifest as implicit or unconscious bias instead of explicit bias (Fridell, 2015). Implicit biases include the fears, feelings, perceptions, and stereotypes that exist in a person’s subconscious, regardless of a person’s acknowledgement of the biases (Gove, 2011). In policing, a relevant bias is the automatic and implicit connection between crimes and minorities (Eberhardt, et. al., 2004). For example, Dr. Lorie Fridell explains in “Fair and Impartial Policing” that implicit bias might “manifest among agency command staff who decide (without crime-related evidence) that the forthcoming gathering of African American college students bodes trouble, whereas the forthcoming gathering of white undergraduates does not” (Fridell, 2015). Research has shown that police officers can lessen or eradicate the effects of implicit biases on their behavior by becoming aware of these biases through proper training (Correll, et. al., 2002).

Realizing the shared goal between the law enforcement community and the civilian community, these findings, these findings prompted the Commission to draft calls to action to strengthen anti-bias training and improve cultural competency with the hope that these calls will help eliminate biased policing practices and improve citizens’ trust and confidence in the police.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Utilizing Community-Based Alternatives to Traditional Sentencing

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Over the past few decades, there has been a rise in the number of “problem-solving” courts in the nation, which include community courts, drug courts, and domestic violence courts (Porter, 2010). One study defines “problem-solving courts” as courts that “seek to address a different set of problems, from systemic concerns such as exponential increases in criminal caseloads, growing jail and prison populations, and decreasing public confidence in justice, to individual-level problems like drug addiction, domestic violence and community disorganization” (Porter, 2010). Specifically, “community courts” focus on “improving public trust in justice, the importance of restorative justice, and involving the local community in identifying the major problems to be addressed” (Porter, 2010).
  • Many communities around the country have developed successful community justice models. These models include:
    • The Community Service Sentencing Project by the Vera Institute in New York, as described in the book “Sensible Justice:Alternatives to Prison” (Anderson, 1998)
    • The Prisoners and Community Together program in Indiana (PACT)
    • The Midtown Community Court, as described in “Dispensing Justice Locally:The Implementation and Effects of the Midtown Community Court” (Curtis, 2001)  
    • Bronx Community Solutions, created with the cooperation of the Center for Court Innovation, which actively utilizes alternative community service programming. In 2005, it was awarded a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice (Bronx Community Solutions)
    • Red Hook Community Justice Center, as described in “A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn:A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center” (Lee, 2013)
  • In 2013, the Center for Court Innovation released a study of the effectiveness of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (Lee, 2013). According to the resulting report, the Red Hook Community Justice Center provided substantially different outcomes than its comparable downtown criminal court (Lee, 2013). “Compared to the downtown criminal court, the Justice Center increased the use of alternative community or social service sentences (78 percent at Red Hook versus 22 percent downtown); decreased the use of jail as a sentence (1 percent versus 15 percent), and decreased the proportion of misdemeanor defendants who “walk” (receive a sentence such as a fine or time served) without any ongoing obligation (20 percent versus 63 percent)” (Lee, 2013).
  • The same report also described a substantial decrease in recidivism among adults. “Case processing at the Justice Center reduced the probability of re-arrest within a two-year period by 10 percent, or 4 percentage points (36% v. 40%). The 10 percent reduction in re-offending is comparable to other proven criminal justice interventions, many of which are of longer duration” (Lee, 2013).
  • As written in Senate Bill 5, Missouri Statute § 479.360 now requires every municipality to file “its certification of its substantial compliance… with the municipal court procedures set forth in this subsection” (SB 5, 2015). The procedures to be adopted and certified include the requirement that “[t]he municipal court makes use of alternative payment plans and community service alternatives” (SB 5, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for alternative, community-based sentencing options and greater access to holistic social service provisions as a means of re-establishing community trust and input into the municipal court system.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below. 

Redefining Courts’ Response to Nonviolent Offenses

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In 2013, the municipal court in Ferguson, a city of 21,135 people, issued 32,975 arrest warrants for nonviolent offenses, mostly driving violations (Shapiro, 2014). Similarly, Pine Lawn, another municipality in St. Louis County, has a population of only 3,275 and, in 2013, it issued 5,333 new warrants, bringing its total outstanding warrants to 23,457 (ArchCity Defenders, 2014).
  • More than half the courts in St. Louis County engage in the “illegal and harmful practices” of charging high court fines and fees on nonviolent offenses like traffic violations and then arresting people when they don’t pay (Shapiro, 2014).
  • From 2010 to December 2014, the offenses (besides “Failure to Appear” ordinance violations) that most often led to a municipal warrant in Ferguson were:Driving While License Is Suspended, Expired License Plates, Failure to Register a Vehicle, No Proof of Insurance, and Speed Limit violations (Department of Justice, 2015).
  • Even though underlying code violations would not independently result in imprisonment, arrest and detention are not uncommon once a warrant enters on a case (Department of Justice, 2015). The Department of Justice’s investigation of the Ferguson Police Department found overwhelming evidence of minor municipal code violations resulting in multiple arrests, jail time, and fines and fees that exceeded the cost of the original ticket several times over. As the report documents, one woman received two parking tickets for a single violation in 2007 that then totaled $151 plus fees. Over seven years later, she still owed Ferguson $541—after already paying $550 in fines and fees, having multiple arrest warrants issued against her, and being arrested and jailed on several occasions (Department of Justice, 2015).
  • The ArchCity Defenders’ 2014 municipal courts white paper observed that the fining practices of certain courts often led to repeated incarceration, psychological harm, and potential loss of housing and employment (ArchCity Defenders, 2014). The Commission and Working Group heard numerous examples of people who were unable to pay their fines for a minor ordinance violation, missed their court dates because they did not have the money, had warrants issued against them, and/or ended up in jail for failure to appear.
  • Outstanding warrants for minor traffic offenses have kept people from retaining employment. Malik Ahmed, founder and CEO of Better Family Life, discovered that many of the participants in his job training program could not retain employment for fearing of being arrested in route to their jobs, which were often five to ten miles away, because of outstanding traffic warrants (Shapiro, 2014). To counter that obstacle, Better Family Life partnered with local police departments to create an annual amnesty plan in which individuals would be able to exchange their arrest warrants for payments plans for their fines and fees (Shapiro, 2014).
  • Currently in the United States, regressive municipal fines disproportionately harm defendants with low incomes. A wealthy individual is likely to view a $200-$300 fine as a minor inconvenience, while the same fine might have devastating consequences for a poor individual who already struggles to pay the rent and put food on the table.

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action, in part to further the reforms already underway. Among other provisions, Senate Bill 5, recently signed by Governor Nixon, caps fines at $300 (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 479.353 (1)); requires municipal courts to establish “procedures to allow indigent defendants to present evidence of their financial condition.” (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 479.360 (1)(4)); and eliminates additional charges for the failure to appear for minor traffic violations. (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 479.360 (1)(6)) (Mo. Rev. Stat. 479). The calls to action outlined here, however, would strengthen the existing law by specifying when the court must inquire into a defendant’s ability to pay, clarifying that courts must consider payment plans and fine revocation in certain circumstances, and paving the way for the cancellation of outstanding arrest warrants for defendants where their inability to pay may have been a significant issue.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Preventing Conflicts of Interest

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In the current 21st Judicial Circuit municipal court system (which covers St. Louis County), attorneys often serve in multiple roles across multiple jurisdictions. According to data compiled in March 2015, 13 attorneys in St. Louis County have positions in three or more municipalities, and 20 hold positions in two municipalities (Bouscaren, 2015). Of these, nine attorneys work as a judge in one municipality and a prosecutor in another (Bouscaren, 2015).
  • The same study showed that “Three St. Louis-area firms provide prosecutors or judges for more than a quarter of the county’s municipal courts, from Bel Nor to Valley Park” (Bouscaren, 2015).
  • Of the 83 municipalities in the St. Louis area, all but 14 had at least one connection to another municipality (Bouscaren, 2015). A “connection” is “sharing a judge or prosecutor…or having a judge or prosecutor who works for the same law firm as a judge or prosecutor in another municipality” (Bouscaren, 2015).
  • Perceived conflicts of interest, whether substantial or inconsequential, sow seeds of distrust:“I had a felony criminal case in state court a few weeks ago,’ says a local defense attorney, in a Washington Post article, “Sometimes criminal cases can get contentious. You have to do everything you can to defend your client, and sometime your interaction with a prosecutor can get combative. A few days later, I was representing a client who had a few warrants in a municipal court where the same prosecutor I was just battling with is now the judge. Is my client is going to get a fair hearing? You hope so. But it sure looks like a conflict to me” (Balko, 2014).
  • Other states use models that address conflicts of interest:
    • The Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a part-time judge from practicing law in “the court on which the judge serves or in any comparable level court in the same judicial district on which the judge serves or in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the court on which the judge serves” (Colorado Supreme Court).
    • The New York Administrative Rules of the Unified Court System & Uniform Rules of the Trial Courts state that a part-time judge “shall not practice law in the court on which the judge serves, or in any other court in the county in which his or her court is located” (New York State Unified Court System). Furthermore, a part-time judge “ shall not permit his or her partners or associates to practice law in the court in which he or she is a judge, and shall not permit the practice of law in his or her court by the law partners or associates of another judge of the same court who is permitted to practice law. . .” (New York State Unified Court System).
    • The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct states:“A part-time judge shall not practice law . . . in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the court on which the judge serves . . . .” (Supreme Court of Ohio).
    • The Nevada Code of Judicial Conduct states:“A continuing part-time judge shall not practice law in the court on which the judge serves or in any court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the court on which the judge serves . . .” (Nevada State Supreme Court).
    • The National District Attorneys Association provides in its model rules that “part-time prosecutors should not represent persons in criminal matters in other jurisdictions. This is because of the potential for conflicts with his or her duties as a prosecutor and because of the perception that such representation would decrease his or her dedication to the performance of prosecutorial functions” (National Prosecution Standards Third Edition).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for additional conflict-of-interest rules and changes to the application of existing rules.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Facilitating Efficiency Through Consolidation of Police Departments

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • The St. Louis region is currently served by 60 police departments of varying sizes and service levels.
  • The region’s 60 police departments range from large, full-service agencies to small municipal departments. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the St. Louis County Police Department are larger departments; both are well-established, comprised of several hundred sworn officers, and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) (PERF Report, 2015). The St. Louis County Police Department also provides other services, including dispatch, jail, investigative and forensic support, and SWAT/special operations, to several municipal departments in the county. In contrast, St. Louis County’s 58 municipal police departments are generally smaller–some have only five to 10 officers serving geographic areas as small as a tenth of a square mile–and rely on other area agencies for support beyond basic patrol services (PERF Report, 2015).
  • In a series of three reports on policing in the St. Louis region, which were commissioned by Better Together, the Police Executive Forum identified several negative consequences of policing fragmentation. These consequences include confusion and anxiety among civilians, inefficiency, variation in the quality and professionalism of police services, and difficulty fostering and maintaining interdepartment partnerships due to the large number of local departments (PERF Report, 2015).
    • Better Together’s first report painted a deeply fragmented picture:“Rarely are the day-to-day lives and safety of residents in our region solely the responsibility of the municipality in which they live. For example, a resident of Ellisville traveling to a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis passes through the jurisdictions of 10 police departments. A Brentwood resident flying to California would pass through 6 states while in 1 flight, but only after driving through 15 separate police jurisdictions during a 14-minute trip to Lambert St. Louis International Airport” (Better Together, 2015a).
    • Better Together’s second report identified significant differences in police training, accreditation, and licensure across the 60 area police departments (Better Together, 2015b).
    • Better Together’s third report showed significant disparities between departments with respect to the equipment and resources afforded to officers:“[S]ome departments provide everything from body armor to service weapons to radios to winter caps. Other departments provide nothing more than a badge and an identification card. Still others issue body armor only ‘when funds are available.’ The data shows that departments’ ability to keep their officers safe and well-equipped varies from municipality to municipality” (Better Together, 2015c). This report also showed that over 20 dispatch hubs handle calls for help (Better Together, 2015c).
  • Policing services cost the St. Louis region approximately $355 per person as compared to $242 per person in Indianapolis/Marion County and $257 in Louisville/Jefferson County (Better Together, 2015a).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action regarding the consolidation of area police departments in order to improve both efficiency and the quality of policing.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Encouraging Efficiency and Transparency

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Court barriers to transparency include:records that are closed, that never existed, or that disappeared; inefficient and costly processes for gaining access to public records, sometimes requiring days or weeks; private electronic databases to which interested citizens lack access; and records that are maintained in forms that are difficult for individuals to access (Mann & Deere, 2015).
  • One investigation into municipal court processes found “a pervasive lack of transparency. Court hearings are conducted in assembly-line fashion and in hushed tones, without any way for the public to learn what is happening with each case. Public records are sparse—viewing a single case file can often take days of waiting and require permission from a city attorney. Then there are the side deals, which are hidden but prolific. Even in court sessions that are theoretically open, judges often speak in whispers at the bench, making it impossible to hear exchanges with defendants who don’t have attorneys. It’s here where they quietly discuss what a person can pay and when.” (Mann & Deere, 2015).
  • Regarding traffic cases, “[w]ith no hearing or public discussion, agreements get tucked away into individual case files, apparent only to those who know to look for them. The courts don’t keep a list of amended charges and aren’t required to report these deals to the state.” (Mann & Deere, 2015).
  • One report by Radley Balko describes interviews with a Cool Valley resident who discovered a pending warrant for his arrest after he was stopped by a police officer (Balko, 2014). The warrant stemmed from a 20-year-old speeding ticket and came with $615 in late fees and fines. However, no one from the court offices could produce the original ticket, and an attorney could not use the individual’s record to find the warrant because Cool Valley does not use the designated legal database. Failure to use the designated legal database is not uncommon among municipalities (Balko, 2014).
  • Balko also reported a St. Louis attorney stating, “I’ve asked prosecutors for a client’s file and they’ve flat turned me down. They’ll say ‘Here’s a list of his warrants, but we can’t show them to you. Just trust us.’ Or they’ll just staple a blank form to a manila envelope, write my client’s name on it, and call that his ‘file.’ They’re giving me the runaround, and I’m an attorney. So you can imagine what happens when people try to work within the system by themselves.” (Balko, 2014).
  • Documented experiences of difficulty in gaining access to public records include:
    • Post-Dispatch requests for documents from the St. Louis County area’s municipal courts were frequently met with silence and denials (Mann & Deere, 2015). Some municipal courts sent the requests to the Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS), which maintains a regional database of criminal information for about 50 municipal courts, for which the newspaper was charged. After nearly a month, the newspaper received the reports, several of which provided very little information (Mann & Deere, 2015).
    • Another set of requests to the municipal courts was met by denials urged on by a prosecutor in Olivette who was also a city attorney in Pagedale and a judge in Edmundson (Mann & Deere, 2015). The responses to the requests insisted that municipal courts are not required to share the information requested and that the courts could keep their databases private, unlike state and federal courts (Mann & Deere, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for more robust recordkeeping standards and more transparent court procedures, with the goal of improving public trust in the municipal justice system.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below. 

Protecting Rights and Effectively Administering Courts

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • According to a report on the municipal courts in the St. Louis region and community members’ experience within them, “family members were forced to wait outside courtrooms while loved-ones represent[ed] themselves in front of a judge and a prosecutor. Many recounted being mistreated by the bailiffs, city prosecutors, court clerks, and even some judges.” (ArchCity Defenders, 2014).
  • On average, a Missouri circuit court judge oversees about 8.6 municipal courts (Better Together, 2014). However, with 81 municipal courts, the St. Louis County Circuit Court judge is responsible for about ten times that amount (Better Together, 2014). The intended oversight by the presiding circuit court judge becomes nearly impossible in this situation (Better Together, 2014).
  • ArchCity Defenders has reported that people who have been arrested on a warrant for failing to appear in court to pay fines, even for non-violent offenses, sometimes sit in jail for extended periods of time (ArchCity Defenders, 2014). Since municipal courts do not hold court on a daily basis, and some only meet once a month, “a person arrested on a warrant in one of these jurisdictions and who cannot pay the bond may spend as much as three weeks in jail waiting to see a judge” (ArchCity Defenders, 2014). Their report also revealed that “poor minorities are pulled over more frequently, they are let go without a ticket less frequently, and they are in all likelihood the only group to see the inside of a jail cell for minor ordinance violations” (ArchCity Defenders, 2014).
  • Effective as of August 28, 2015, Missouri Statute 479.360 further states:“Defendants in custody pursuant to an initial arrest warrant issued by a municipal court have an opportunity to be heard by a judge in person, by telephone, or video conferencing as soon as practicable and not later than forty-eight hours on minor traffic violations and not later than seventy-two hours on other violations and, if not given that opportunity, are released” (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 479.360.1(1)).
  • ArchCity Defenders has reported that “defendants are entitled to a hearing to determine their ability to pay under Missouri law. Upon revocation of probation for failing to pay, defendants are again entitled to an inquiry into their ability to pay. Based on our observations, these hearings rarely occur.” (ArchCity Defenders, 2014).
    • On August 28, 2015, Missouri Statute 479.360 became effective. It states, in relevant part, that municipal courts must “[establish] procedures to allow indigent defendants to present evidence of their financial condition and [take] such evidence into account if determining fines and costs and establishing related payment requirements” (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 479.360.1(4)).
    • Plaintiffs’ attorneys in Fant v. Ferguson, a class action lawsuit suing the City of Ferguson regarding allegedly unconstitutional municipal court practices, argued that jailing individuals for inability to pay is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses (Fant v. City of Ferguson, 2015).
  • Missouri Statute 479.360 further states:“Defendants are not detained in order to coerce payment of fines and costs” (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 479.360.1(3)).
  • The Class Action Complaint in Fant v. City of Ferguson describes situations in which individuals have been incarcerated in Ferguson jail for inability to pay traffic tickets or other minor fines and fees (Fant v. City of Ferguson, 2015). According to the Complaint, individuals “are kept in overcrowded cells; they are denied toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap; they are subjected to the constant stench of excrement and refuse in their congested cells; they are surrounded by walls smeared with mucus and blood; they are kept in the same clothes for days and weeks without access to laundry or clean underwear; they step on top of other inmates, whose bodies cover nearly the entire uncleaned cell floor, in order to access a single shared toilet that the City does not clean; they develop untreated illnesses and infections in open wounds that spread to other inmates; they endure days and weeks without being allowed to use the moldy shower; their filthy bodies huddle in cold temperatures with a single thin blanket even as they beg guards for warm blankets; they are not given adequate hygiene products for menstruation; they are routinely denied vital medical care and prescription medication, even when their families beg to be allowed to bring medication to the jail; they are provided food so insufficient and lacking in nutrition that inmates lose significant amounts of weight; they suffer from dehydration out of fear of drinking foul smelling water that comes from an apparatus on top of the toilet; and they must listen to the screams of other inmates languishing from unattended medical issues as they sit in their cells without access to books, legal materials, television, or natural light” (Fant v. City of Ferguson, 2015).
    • Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that “[t]he jail conditions created and perpetuated by the City of Ferguson would be unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment even were convicted prisoners treated with such callous disregard to basic health and safety.” (Fant v. City of Ferguson, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for administrative changes that contribute to the protection of citizen’s constitutional rights.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below. 

Supporting Career Readiness

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In a recent survey, in which 50,000 employers were invited to participate and 704 responded, over half of employers across a range of industries who hire recent college graduates reported having trouble finding recent graduates qualified to fill positions at their company or organization (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2012). Nearly a third of the surveyed employers deemed colleges to be fair or poor at cultivating successful employees (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2012). Recent bachelor’s-degree holders, employers said, are most lacking in basic workplace proficiencies like adaptability, written and oral communication skills, and the ability to solve complex problems (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2012).
  • 73 percent of employers in 2011 preferred to hire candidates with relevant work experience compared to 17.5 percent of employers that preferred to hire candidates with any work experience and 4 percent for whom work experience does not matter (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2011).
  • A separate survey of 37,874 students, found that 51 percent of paid interns in the class of 2012 had at least one job offer when they graduated as compared to 36 percent of those with no internship experience (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2013).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft a call to action for additional career readiness support for students.

To that end, the Commission issues the call to action below. 

Providing Quality Early Childhood Education

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Countless studies have shown that the early years in a child’s life, when the brain develops the most, represent a critically important window of opportunity (Consortium for Longitudinal Studies, 1983).
  • The groundwork for much of what the average person needs to succeed in life is established by about the time he or she enters kindergarten (Heckman,  2012). During these first years of life, the human brain develops rapidly, laying the foundation for future cognitive skills in the areas of reading, math, science, and academics more generally (Phillips & Shonkoff, 2000). During these years, children also form nascent social, emotional, gross-motor, and executive-function skills (Phillips & Shonkoff, 2000).
  • Children who attend early-learning programs perform better in school and social life than those who receive no formal early education. (Karoly, Greenwood, Everingham, Hoube, Kilburn, Rydell, Sanders, and Chiesa, 1998; Barnett, 1995) They are less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to be placed in special education classes, and more likely to graduate from high school. (Karoly et al.; Barnett, 1995; Consortium for Longitudinal Studies, 1983).
  • Children who participate in early childhood education are less likely to engage in criminal activity, be unemployed, visit the emergency room, or become pregnant as teens (Karoly et al., 1998).
  • While every child benefits from early learning—formal or informal—research suggests that the benefits of early childhood education are particularly strong for kids from disadvantaged communities (HighScope, 2005; Reynolds, Temple, Robertson, & Mann, 2001).
  • The Federal Reserve estimates that for every $1 invested in high-quality pre-kindergarten education, the community sees a $7-$16 rate of return through saved costs (e.g., on special education, incarceration, and social services) and enhanced revenues (e.g., higher income and property taxes) (Grunewald, & Rolnick, 2010).
  • In Missouri, from 2011 to 2013, 64% of children living in households with income below 200% of the federal poverty limit (FPL) (around $44,700 for a family of four in 2011) were not enrolled in preschool, compared to 48% of children living in households with income at or above 200% of FPL (National Kids Count, 2015; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2011).
  • A study by the Women’s Foundation and the University of Missouri found that 27% of counties in the state have no accredited child care centers, including the top three counties with the highest number of children under the age of four per capita, two of which are also amongst the most impoverished counties in the state (Institute of Public Policy, 2015; US Census, 2010).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft a call to action for enhanced access to early education for all of Missouri’s children.

To that end, the Commission issues the call to action below.

Promoting Lifelong Wellness and Personal Development

Monitoring Child Well-being

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • When students drop out of high school, it can significantly impair the quality of their individual lives and the prosperity and competitiveness of the communities in which they live. On average, a high school graduate in Missouri earns $8,109 more each year than a high school dropout (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2012).
  • Roughly 18,000 students in Missouri dropped out of high school in 2011; the lost lifetime earnings from that class of dropouts is estimated to total $2.3 billion (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2011). Between 2010 and 2012, nationally, 80 percent of Black and 73 percent of Hispanic students at public schools graduated within four years, compared to the 89 percent of White students (Stetser & Stillwell, 2014).
  • About 1.3 million students dropped out of  United States high schools in 2004, costing the economy more than $325 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2012). The more than 12 million students who will drop out over the next decade are expected to cost the nation about $3 trillion (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2012).
  • Some schools, districts, and states use early-warning data to identify students at high risk for dropping out. These early-warning systems use academic indicators such as course grades, GPA, class rank, behavior marks, and attendance rates to indicate which students  have a high risk of not graduating, allowing the schools to intervene before it is too late. Research on identifying potential dropouts has found that reliable predictors can be tracked as early as 4th-6th grade (Pinkus, 2008).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft calls to action for more sophisticated monitoring of child well-being across the community. One place to start is in the area of academic performance, though a similar commitment to monitoring and coordinating responses is relevant for many areas.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Increasing Access to Care for Children

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Families and children with low incomes depend on a patchwork of systems to access coverage that makes healthcare affordable and not all of those who qualify for assistance are accessing the assistance. While public program expansions have increased the number of insured children, more than 107,000, or roughly 7.7 percent, of children in Missouri remain uninsured (SHADAC, 2014). In 2012, roughly 85% of these children were eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), both public insurance programs (Kenney, Lynch, Huntress, Haley, & Anderson, 2012).
  • Medicaid and CHIP are federally authorized health insurance programs that are administered at the state level. Both programs are funded by state and federal contributions. While the federal Department of Health and Human Services sets broad regulations, states have a great deal of authority to establish coverage levels and eligibility terms.  As a result, these terms vary from state to state. In Missouri, Medicaid, called MO HealthNet, covers children living in households that make less than 150-196 percent of the federal poverty limit (depending on the age of the child), or roughly 436,300 children (Missouri Foundation for Health, 2014). CHIP insures an additional 70,000 children who live in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private coverage (Missouri Foundation for Health, 2014).
  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also improved access to health insurance by, among other things, instituting Marketplaces where people could purchase private health insurance and receive premium subsidies to help pay for those plans. Individuals earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level qualify for the premium subsidies (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014a). The amount of the subsidy depends on the person’s annual income. As of April 2014, 166,440 people had bought Missouri health insurance plans on the federal Marketplace—about 62 percent of those eligible  (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014b).
  • The ACA also authorized additional funding for states to expand Medicaid programs to cover adults under the age of 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty limit (National Council on State Legislatures, 2011). States are allowed to decide whether to accept these funds and expand Medicaid. Missouri is one of 19 states (currently) that has not yet expanded Medicaid (Families USA, 2015). As a result, for an adult living in poverty in Missouri, he or she must have a dependent child and earn no more than approximately 18 percent of the poverty level, or roughly $2,900/year for a single mother with two children to qualify for Medicaid (Missouri Foundation for Health, 2014). Childless individuals are not eligible for Medicaid under any income circumstances unless they are disabled or pregnant (Missouri Foundation for Health, 2014).
  • This has created a coverage gap. Under the design of the ACA, Medicaid expansion was intended to cover the many individuals making too little to qualify for subsidies on the exchange (those earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level) (Missouri Foundation for Health, 2014). In Missouri, though, these individuals qualify for neither Medicaid nor federal subsidies to help with the purchase of  private insurance. That means a family of four earning up to $95,000 a year qualifies for assistance (through the Marketplace). A similar family earning $23,000 does not.
  • Studies have shown that children who are eligible for coverage are three times more likely to be enrolled and much more likely to stay enrolled if their parents also have insurance (Schwartz, 2007). Children whose parents are covered are also more likely to receive recommended care (Schwartz, 2007).
  • Children with insurance are more likely to have a usual source of care as well as access to preventive care. This means they are more likely to be up-to-date with their immunizations, more likely to receive cost-effective care, and more likely to stay well (Smith, Santoli, Chu, Ochoa, & Rodewald, 2005; Starfield & Shi, 2004).
  • One study found that 14 percent of children with insurance and 9 percent of children with public insurance had an unmet health care need, compared to 35 percent of uninsured children (Cohen & Bloom 2004). Among uninsured Black children, 37% have an unmet needs compared to 27% of uninsured White children (Shone, Dick, Klein, Zwanziger, & Szilagyi, 2005).  
  • Children with undiagnosed or poorly treated health conditions are more likely to miss school and to struggle when they are there. This was exhibited by Missouri’s Managed Care Plus (MC+) initiatives, which showed that Missouri’s Children’s Health Coverage Program decreased student absences by 39 percent (MU-CFPR, 2003).
  • By virtue of being a mainstay in most communities, schools are well-positioned to help expand access to healthcare by bringing “critical, developmentally appropriate services to children and adolescents where they spend most of their waking hours” (Keeton, Soleimanpour, & Brindis, 2012). The school-based health center model is one way of doing so that involves “providing a range of comprehensive services that… vary based on community need and resources. SBHCs possess several common characteristics including location inside or on school grounds, provision of comprehensive services by a multidisciplinary team, and integration with the school community.” (Keeton, et al., 2012). Researchers have found school-based health centers to be effective at meeting the health care needs of disadvantaged children and adolescents—who are more likely to have an unmet mental or physical health need and that are at the greatest risk of not receiving regular check ups (Keeton, et al., 2012; Allison, Crane, Beaty, Davidson, Melinkovich, & Kempe, 2007; Irwin, Adams, Park, & Newacheck, 2009; & Nordin, Solberg, & Parker, 2010).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several recommendations that call for expanded access to care for children.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Ending Childhood Hunger

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • According to Feeding America, the country’s largest food bank system, more than one in five of Missouri’s children (21.6 percent) live in food-insecure households (Feeding America, 2013). Food security “means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life” (USDA, 2015).  This amounts to more than 350,000 hungry children in Missouri (Feeding America, 2013).
  • Nationally, households headed by Black and Latino or Hispanic individuals are twice as likely as households headed by White individuals to report food insecurity among children (18 percent compared to 7 percent) (Wight & Thampi, 2010).
  • Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a lack of “ and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods” (Feeding America, 2013).
  • Several studies have demonstrated that food insecurity affects cognitive development among young children and is linked to poorer school performance and health(Shonkoff et. al., 2010; Jyoti et al., 2005).
  • Children who do not receive adequate nutrition necessary for strong, healthy brain development during early childhood may never recover their lost potential for cognitive growth and eventual contributions to society (Shonkoff et. al., 2010; Jyoti et al., 2005).
  • Inadequate nutritional intake during the first two years of life also correlates with increased susceptibility to infections, slowed cognitive development and physical growth, increased susceptibility to chronic diseases, and a higher risk of delivering low-birth weight babies (Shonkoff et. al., 2010; Jyoti et al., 2005). Other non-health related problems include reduced school performance, increased school dropout rates, and reduced productivity during adulthood (Hoddinott et. al., 2008).
  • One of the primary routes to feeding hungry children is through public school breakfast and lunch programs. Programs like the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program provide schools with the resources needed to give students nutritious free and reduced-cost meals (Missouri School Breakfast and Lunch Program). Roughly 450,000, or half of Missouri’s children that are enrolled in public school, receive free or reduced lunch (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2015).
  • The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) has been working to feed more children during the summer. However, in 2014, more than 89 percent of Missouri children receiving a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year did not participate in a summer nutrition program, ranking Missouri 40th of 50 states in ensuring that children have adequate summer nutrition (FitzSimons, Anderson, Hayes & Burke, 2015).
  • Two key federal programs work to end hunger:the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Both are available to households with income below a certain threshold. The number of people participating in SNAP, the largest federal food assistance program, rose to a new high of 46.5 million in 2013, up from 33.5 million in 2009 (USDA, 2014). While some of this growth can be attributed to changes in SNAP program rules, recent studies conclude that the weak economy explains most of the increase (Ganong & Liebman, 2013). Other government programs that provided nutrition assistance in 2013 also saw high enrollment levels. For example, almost 9 million people received WIC benefits in 2013 (USDA, 2014).
  • In Missouri, over 250,000 individuals were eligible for WIC benefits in 2012, and 1.4 million were eligible for SNAP (USDA, 2014; Cunnyngham, 2015). Participation rates for those eligible range from just over 55 percent for WIC to 83 percent for SNAP (USDA, 2014; Cunnyngham, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft a recommendation that calls for changes to existing programs and new innovations with the goal of ending hunger for children and families.

To that end, the Commission issues the call to action below.

Building Safe and Trauma-Informed Environments

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Each year in the United States approximately five million children experience some form of traumatic experience (National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, 2012). More than two million of these are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse (National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, 2012).
  • Studies have shown that one in four children will be touched directly by personal or community violence by the age of 18 (Costello, Erkanli, Fairbank, & Angold, 2002).
  • Traumatic experiences can have a devastating impact on children, affecting their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development (Barth et. al., 2008; Mental Health Connection). For example, young children exposed to five or more significant adverse experiences in the first three years of life face a 76 percent likelihood of having one or more delays in their language, emotional, or brain development (Barth et. al., 2008; Mental Health Connection). And, generally,  people who have experienced trauma are (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2015):
    • 15 times more likely to attempt suicide
    • 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic
    • 4 times more likely to develop a sexually transmitted disease
    • 4 times more likely to inject drugs
    • 3 times more likely to use antidepressant medication
    • 3 times more likely to be absent from work
    • 3 times more likely to experience depression
    • 3 times more likely to have serious job problems
    • 2.5 times more likely to smoke
    • 2 times more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • 2 times more likely to have a serious financial problem (Mental Health Connection; Felitti et. al., 1998)
  • Trauma often goes unnoticed. For example, when Cook County Hospital in Chicago started screening patients at their trauma center for post-traumatic stress disorder, they found that 43 percent of patients examined had signs of the disorder (Beckett, 2014). Studies  also have found that trauma’s impact on racial and ethnic minority groups is disproportionately likely to go untreated (Roberts, Gilman, Breslau, Breslau, & Koenen, 2011).  

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several recommendations that call for neighborhoods, communities, organizations, and systems that are more aware of and responsive to trauma, especially among kids.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Fostering Innovation and Organizational Capacity

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • There were 18,584 public charities in Missouri in 2003 (National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2013). This number increased by over 20 percent in 2013 when there were 22,593 public charities in the state. The state was also witness to a 51 percent increase in the number of private operating foundations (National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2013). In 2012, there were 53.8 nonprofits per 10,000 Missouri citizens (National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2012). In St. Louis there are 2,443 nonprofits with an additional 6,631 in the County (National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2015). Many of these nonprofits are in the area of education.
  • In Missouri, the funding formula is designed to calculate how much a district needs to deliver an adequate education (per student), taking into consideration local revenue. Local revenue varies sharply across districts and can lead to great disparity in available funding (The Missouri Budget Project, 2014). For example, in 2014, the Clayton school district funding gap was just $34 per student, while the Potosi school district’s gap was $978 per student (The Missouri Budget Project, 2014).
  • A recent analysis of this disparity found that, nationally, the highest poverty school districts receive about $1,200 less in funding per student than the lowest poverty districts, and that districts with the most Black students receive about $2,000 less per student than those districts with the fewest Black students (Ushomirsky & Williams, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action that encourage coordinated and robust innovation and organizational capacity in the area of education.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Providing Rigorous Primary and Secondary Education

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • High schools that serve predominantly low-income students usually have the least experienced and least qualified teachers, provide limited or no access to school counselors, and offer a less rigorous curriculum than schools that serve primarily affluent students (CLASP, 2015). Roughly one in seven teachers in high-poverty public high schools are in their first or second year of teaching, as compared to fewer than 1 in 10 teachers in low-poverty public high schools (CLASP, 2015). In high-poverty public high schools, 11.5 percent of teachers are not certified, compared to 3.5 percent in low-poverty public high schools (CLASP, 2015).
  • It is not unusual for school counselors in low-income and rural public schools to work with 1,000 students each, more than four times the American School Counselors’ Association recommended student-counselor ratio of 250:1 (American Student Counselor Association, 2010).  
  • Counselors at public schools typically spend about half as much of their time on college counseling compared to their colleagues at private schools (American Student Counselor Association, 2010).
  • In struggling districts like the Normandy School District, the rate at which schools send their students on to college (two-year, four-year, or vocational) is approximately 48 percent, as compared to 69 percent statewide and 93 percent in Ladue (Missouri Department of Secondary Education, 2015).
  • Over one-third of Missouri’s public high school graduates who attend the state’s public colleges and universities are deemed unprepared as freshmen (Spurlock, 2015).
  • More than two-thirds of graduates of low-performing high schools need to take remedial courses before they can register for regular college courses (Spurlock, 2015; Bock, 2015).
  • At Beaumont, Normandy, Hazelwood East, Vashon, and Riverview Gardens, more than 75 percent of 2013 graduates who enrolled in state colleges needed remedial courses. At Sumner High in St. Louis, each of the 18 graduates in 2013 who went to a public college in Missouri needed extra help when they got there (Spurlock, 2015; Bock, 2015).  
  • If all students in Missouri’s public high schools were to graduate prepared for college, the state could save as much as $91 million in college remediation costs and lost earnings (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2011).
  • A study in Missouri found that the 6-year college graduation rate for Black students, at around 40 percent, is more than 20 percent lower than for White students (Arcidiacono, & Koedel, 2013). In particular, Black men have especially low college enrollment rates and high dropout rates. The study also found that the disparities in pre-college entry skills between students of different races explain 65 and 86 percent of the racial gap in college graduation rates for women and men respectively (Arcidiacono, & Koedel, 2013).
  • In St. Louis, the highest unemployment rates and lowest wages belong to those workers with less than a high school education (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015). Unemployment rates for a less than high school graduate are nearly 50% higher than those of a worker with a high school diploma or GED, and more than 5 times the rate of a worker with a bachelor’s degree (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015).
  • In a 2013 audit of the St. Louis Public School district, former State Auditor Tom Schweich found a systematic practice of advancing students despite below-grade-level performance. The audit found that, despite over 2,000 students testing at the “below basic” level in the 2011 and 2012 reading section of the Missouri Assessment Program, only less than 200 of them were held back each year (Schweich, 2013).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft two calls to action aimed to improve the rigor of education for Missouri’s children.

To that end, the Commission issues the following calls to action.

Enhancing Auxiliary Services’ Ability to Support Youth

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • Missouri’s Family Support Division assists hundreds of thousands of children and adults each year through the delivery of services such as temporary financial assistance, Medicaid, medical care for pregnant and non-pregnant women, and food stamps (Family Support Division, 2013).
  • Several articles point to the delays in delivering services through the Family Support Division including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child care subsidies (Cambria, 2014a; Cambria, 2014b; Editorial Board, 2014; Liss, 2014).
  • A survey conducted by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) found that Missouri enrollment in Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG), a program that provides federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income working families, dropped by 12,300 children statewide from 2012 to 2013 (Matthews & Schmit, 2014). This decrease in Missouri’s average monthly number of children served by CCDBG represents more than a quarter of the net loss of CCDBG enrollment nationwide (Matthews & Schmit, 2014).
  • The CLASP report also notes the following:(1) in an average month in 2013, fewer than 1.5 million children received CCDBG-funded child care, a number that represents a 15-year program low; and (2) in 2012 the total spending on child care assistance, including CCDBG and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), reached a 10-year low of $11.4 billion (Matthews & Schmit, 2014). For example, in fiscal year 2013, the average monthly number of children served by CCDBG nationwide was approximately 1.5 million, as compared to an average of 1.8 million in fiscal year 2006   (Matthews & Schmit, 2014).
  • Services are also delivered through many of Missouri’s nonprofit organizations. In 2013, there were 22,593 registered 501(c)(3) public charities in the state (National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2013). This figure includes 422 organizations dedicated to youth development, 3,508 dedicated to education, and 1,722 dedicated to multipurpose human services (National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2013).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft calls to action to improve youth and families’ ability to access support services.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

Enhancing College Access and Affordability

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • As a New York Times article puts it, “Yes, college is worth it, and it’s not even close. For all the struggles that many young college graduates face, a four-year degree has probably never been more valuable” (Leonhardt, 2014). Studies have confirmed the increased earnings associated with having a college degree, including one that found that the true, long-term cost of a college degree is actually negative $500,000 (Autour, 2014). In other words, college is financially a net positive and beneficial in the long term (Autour, 2014).
  • Minority high schools students, namely Black and Hispanic students, are less likely to go to college than their White counterparts in Missouri (Lumina Foundation, 2013). Among adults age 25-64 in Missouri, 37 percent of White individuals have a college degree (Lumina Foundation, 2013). Approximately  25 percent and 23 percent of Black and Hispanic individuals can claim the same (Lumina Foundation, 2013).
  • Access Missouri is a statewide needs-based scholarship program designed to help students of low-income families. Currently, approximately 50,000 students receive an Access Missouri scholarship annually  (KY3, 2015).
  • When it was first established in 2007, the average Access Missouri award was set to cover 22 percent of the tuition and fees at four-year independent institutions, while covering 25 percent at four-year public institutions (KY3, 2015). In 2010, Governor Jay Nixon cut funding for the program by $50 million (KY3, 2015).
  • In 2015 Gov. Nixon announced an increase in scholarship amounts to $850 from $660 for students attending participating 2-year institutions, and an increase to $1,850 from $1,500 for those attending participating 4-year institutions in the 2016 fiscal year (KY3, 2015). This level of funding still falls short of the $95 million in annual funding allocated at the program’s birth in 2007 and is insubstantial in light of average annual in-state tuition rates of $8,400 (public) and $26,500 (private) at four-year institutions in Missouri (The College Board, 2015).
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students are individuals  who were brought to the U.S. as young children and are undocumented, through no fault of their own. They are legally allowed to live, work and study in the U.S. under a change in the Obama Administration’s enforcement policy for undocumented immigrants called DACA. As of March 2014, 673,417 young people had applied to the program and 553,197 had been approved (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2014). As of 2013, this included 2,026 applicants and 1,203 approved individuals in Missouri (Dews, 2013).
  • The Missouri Legislature recently passed two bills pertaining to students in the DACA program. The first denied DACA students access to the state’s A+ Scholarship Program, which covers tuition for community and technical college students (House Bill 224, 2015). Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed that bill (Nixon, 2015). The second bill was the state budget bill (House Bill 3, 2015). Lawmakers inserted a rule in the introduction of the bill stating that colleges and universities must charge DACA students the highest rate of tuition available (i.e., the out-of-state or international rate) (House Bill 3, 2015).
  • While Governor Nixon’s veto of the bill precluding DACA students from receiving A+ scholarships grants a degree of confidence to 2-year colleges that want to welcome undocumented students, the future for DACA students wishing to attend four-year colleges is hazier. As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, several state legislators have warned colleges and universities not to act against the will of the Legislature (Addo, 2015). Some schools have taken that warning to heart and charged undocumented students the highest tuition possible (Addo, 2015). The University of Missouri-St. Louis is among those who will not extend tuition benefits or state scholarships to undocumented students. This means that students who were expecting to pay $9,500 in tuition saw their bill increase to $25,000. (Addo, 2015)

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for improved access and affordability to college for students in Missouri.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action below.

Reforming School-Based Discipline

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In 2011-2012, nearly 3.5 million public school students were suspended out of school at least once (Morgan, et al., 2014). Recent estimates suggest that one in three students will be suspended at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade (Schollenberger, 2015).
  • In 2015, UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies published a study examining the “discipline gap,” or the inequalities in discipline received by different subgroups of students (Losen, Hodson, Keith, Morrison, & Belway, 2015). For both primary and secondary education, the study ranked each state according to the difference between the percentage of Black children suspended and the percentage of White children suspended. In this study, Missouri ranked last among primary school-aged children:14.3% of Black students were suspended in 2011-2012 compared to 1.8% of White students. Missouri also had the highest suspension rate for Black elementary school students in the country (Losen et al., 2015). When looking at secondary-school-aged children, Missouri ranked 47th out of 50 states:20 more Black secondary school students than White students were suspended in Missouri per 100 students enrolled in 2011-2012 (Losen et al., 2015).
  • As reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, nearly one out of five of the 3,989 total suspensions in the St. Louis school district last school year was for ‘insubordination/disrespect,’ an inherently subjective category that can include a student stomping his foot or putting her head down on her desk (Crouch, 2015).
  • Several studies suggest suspending students does not necessarily allow the remaining students to thrive as one might expect.
    • One such study found that, when controlling for poverty and race, schools that used suspension infrequently had higher achievement rates (Skiba, Chung, Trachok, Baker, Sheya, & Hughes, 2014).
    • Similarly, another large and rigorous study found no academic benefits in schools with higher suspension rates (Fabelo, Thompson, Plotkin, Carmichael, Marchbanks & Booth 2011).
    • Notably, the Denver Public Schools made a concerted effort to improve the school climate systemically by implementing restorative practices that focus on rehabilitation and reconciliation and a community-based model of discipline that deemphasizes zero-tolerance policies in favor of the empowerment of students to solve problems. The schools witnessed a decrease in suspension rates, a narrowing in the discipline gap, and an increase in test scores at all grade levels in nearly every subject for six consecutive years (Gonzalez, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft a recommendation that calls for changes to school policies, practices, and leadership as well as teacher training with the hope that this call will help eliminate excessive disciplinary exclusion and thereby improve the short- and long-term wellbeing of children.

To that end, the Commission issues the call to action below. 

Optimizing School Accreditation and Transfers

The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • In January 2013, the Normandy School District in St. Louis County lost its accreditation, joining the Riverview Gardens School District, which lost its accreditation in 2006 (FOCUS St. Louis, 2014).
  • The State Board of Education awards accreditation to districts that meet minimum quality and rigor standards (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education). According to a 1993 state law, students in an unaccredited district are eligible to transfer to an accredited district in the same or adjoining county without expense to their family. However, that expense falls on the unaccredited school district—the statute requires the unaccredited school district to cover tuition and transportation costs (to at least one “receiving school”) for any students who wish to transfer. (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 167.131)
  • The Missouri Legislature has repeatedly introduced legislation to address the issues raised by the current transfer statute. In the 2015 legislative session, this bill was HB 42, and it, among other things, proposed adding public charter and virtual schools as transfer options (School Accreditation and Transfers). Notably, the bill did not set a cap on the tuition that receiving school districts could charge home districts. The bill was vetoed by Governor Nixon in late June 2015 (Office of Governor Jay Nixon, 2015).
  • As of early 2014, Normandy and Riverview Gardens paid up to $20,000 per year per child, or over $9 million total, in tuition for transfer students (Crouch & Bock, 2014). In some cases, Normandy and Riverview Gardens are paying out more in per-pupil tuition than they are receiving in per-pupil tax revenue, resulting in the two districts enrolling 80% of their original student population with only 70% of their original budget (Crouch & Bock, 2014).
  • In May of 2014, with Normandy nearly bankrupt, the Missouri Board of Education voted to replace the Normandy School District with the Normandy Schools Collaborative in order to avoid having to dissolve it entirely and assign its students to other schools. The Collaborative carried a non-accredited status (rather than unaccredited), effectively removing it from the school transfer law. The Board of Education later deemed it accredited, a decision that was overturned in a strongly written opinion issued by a St. Louis County Judge in early 2015 (Circuit Court of St. Louis County, 2015; Singer, 2015).
  • Last year, nearly 40 percent of the class of 2014 at Normandy High failed to graduate (Crouch, 2015).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for changes to the accreditation system and student transfer laws and conditions with the hope that these calls will help all students access high quality education.

To that end, the Commission issues the following calls to action.