Ann Kelley's Capitol Connection
What’s Going on in the Capitol
Missouri Department of Agriculture Announces Building Our American Communities (BOAC) Grant Availability
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has introduced the Building Our American Communities (BOAC) grant program, offering $12,000 annually to Missouri's 4-H clubs and FFA chapters. These grants are designed to support projects that contribute to the development and progress of rural communities in the state. Twelve $500 grants are available for both 4-H and FFA groups, with two grants awarded per each of the six districts. Eligible projects should benefit agricultural communities or promote community development, which may include enhancements to existing facilities or buildings used by various community organizations. The application deadline is December 1, 2023, and successful applicants will be notified in early January. Projects should be completed by August 1, 2024. More information and applications are available at agriculture.mo.gov.
Missouri Schools Awarded First-Ever State-Backed 'Grow Your Own' Grants for Local Educator Recruitment
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has awarded state-funded "Grow Your Own" grants to 125 local education agencies (LEAs). These grants, supported by DESE's Fiscal Year 2024 budget with $2.5 million, provide one-time grants of $10,000 to LEAs to establish or enhance their local "Grow Your Own" programs. These programs are aimed at increasing the recruitment of high-quality teachers in school districts throughout Missouri.
Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven emphasized the critical role teachers play in impacting student achievement and thanked the General Assembly for recognizing the urgency of addressing the teacher workforce shortage in Missouri, underscoring the importance of Grow Your Own programs in tackling this issue.
"Grow Your Own" initiatives seek to attract local students and non-certified school staff, such as paraprofessionals and substitute teachers, to pursue careers in teaching. These programs often provide support for future teachers through post-secondary education and teacher certification pathways. The funding supports various activities, including dual credit courses, high school scholarships, student internships, and opportunities for non-teaching adults to become certified teachers.
Local programs guide students through a path that starts with an Introduction to Education course in collaboration with a university and includes mentoring, field experience, and cadet teaching to expose them to the teaching profession. The latest round of Grow Your Own grant funding will help them continue these efforts.
LEAs applied for these grants through a competitive application process, with grant funds needing to be allocated and reimbursement requested by May 31, 2024. Funding was also provided to award Grow Your Own grants to 15 educator preparation programs and five community colleges to further support teacher recruitment and development.
Missouri Joins Lawsuit against Facebook Parent Company
The state of Missouri has joined a group of 33 states in filing a federal lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Meta knowingly designed its platforms to addict children and teenagers while falsely assuring the public that they were safe for youth. It claims that Meta's business practices violate state consumer protection laws and the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, exacerbating a "youth mental health crisis" as noted by the U.S. Surgeon General.
The complaint also accuses Meta of collecting data from young users, including those under 13, without parental consent and targeting them. The lawsuit draws on proprietary material, public sources, and information from former Meta employees to support its claims. It points to features such as near-constant alerts and infinite scrolling, designed to addict young users, which the lawsuit alleges harms their physical and mental health, disrupts sleep, and interferes with education.
Meta's platform algorithms are said to encourage users to get lost in "rabbit holes," aiming to keep them on the platform for extended periods. Meta is accused of publicly promoting its platforms as safe for young users, without addressing the harm or implementing meaningful changes to mitigate it.
Missouri’s social media lawsuit temporarily blocked by U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a lower court's order that restricted executive branch officials from discussing controversial online posts with social media companies. The lawsuit alleges collusion between the federal government and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to suppress freedom of speech.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had previously barred government agencies such as the White House, Surgeon General's Office, FBI, and CDC from engaging with social media companies. It ruled that the Biden administration likely violated the First Amendment by encouraging major social media platforms to remove false or misleading content.
The Supreme Court has imposed a temporary stay on this order while it reviews the case and has agreed to hear the government's appeal, promising to issue a ruling during its current term, which concludes by the end of June. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissented, with Alito expressing concern over the delay in the review process.
Missouri’s Attorney General described the court order as "the worst First Amendment violation in our nation's history" and anticipates challenging censorship at the highest court in the nation.
Taking Care of YOU
Resolutions: My office offers Courtesy Resolutions for birthdays, deceased loved ones, Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts, Glory Awards, Marriage, Retirement, Sports, Wedding Anniversary’s, and Veterans. To request one, please call my office at (573) 751-2165.
Flags: Are you in need of a new flag? I offer new Missouri State and United States flags upon request. If you need a flag for a special circumstance, we can even fly it over the capitol for you. These flags are available for any non-profit organizations and groups.
Scheduling a Capitol Trip: If your school is traveling to Jefferson City, contact my capitol office to set up tours times for the Capitol, Supreme Court, and Missouri State Penitentiary. These tours fill up fast in a first come first serve basis. Please give us a months’ notice in order to ensure you get tours of everything.
I am always in your service,
Proudly Serving District 127
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