Sacramento Scene, November 2019

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

“Newsom supporter” is what the comment posted to the California FFA newsletter stated. It was written in direct response to the “Sacramento Scene” article in the October Golden Slate. The comment is greatly appreciated as it caused a lot of reflection in terms of the purpose of the Sacramento Scene section of the Golden Slate and its potential audience. Moving the Golden Slate into the digital era has been an enlightening and educational experience. The release of the publication on a new platform means that more people read and have access to CATA’s communications. This medium also means that data and feedback is more accessible and more immediate than ever before. 

As a teacher I took great pride in not allowing my students to know my personal views on any topic when delivering Agriscience curriculum. My role was to facilitate the students discovery of the data and evidence for each subject area and then allow them to come to their own conclusions using the empirical method of discovery. Teaching students how to find and evaluate the credibility of information and then use that knowledge to problem solve and come to conclusions is one of the most important skills that they can learn. 

I take much the same approach as an advocate for agricultural education. I have a micro-focused view of politics, state agencies, government officials and policies that is centered on what is good for FFA students and agricultural teachers. My primary role is to be the voice of agricultural education in Sacramento. Additionally, I am the source of communication to the CATA membership about what is happening politically as it relates to California agricultural education. My course of action is guided by the CATA membership, mentors and friends of the FFA, and 18 years of ag teaching experience and knowing what worked for kids in the classroom. 

I reread October’s “Sacramento Scene” and found it to be an accurate account of the events relevant to agricultural education that transpired in the Capitol. But as I read it a second time, I was cognizant of the potential legislators, staffers, government employees, department of education personnel and people outside of the CATA that might also have access to it. Thank you for your comments and the reminder about the mission. We continue to welcome your feedback.

Sacramento Scene

October 13 was the last day that the California Governor had to sign bills from the 2019 legislative cycle. In all, more than 3,000 bills were debated by the Legislature, culminating in 870 being signed into law by Governor Newsom. Many of these new laws will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The following are a list of bills that are pertinent to Ag Education, which were tracked or actively engaged by CATA.

Later start of school day (SB 328) Senator PortantinoSigned into law

SB 328 will mandate that middle schools cannot begin the school day before 8 a.m. and high schools cannot begin earlier than  8:30 a.m. There is an exclusion in the bill for rural schools. 

School facilities bond (AB 48) Assemblyman O’DonnellChaptered by the Secretary of State 

AB 48 will put a $15 billion bond for new construction and renovation on the ballot for 2020 and 2022. The funds could be used for preschool, K-12 and higher education. Approximately $500 million dollars of these funds are eligible to be used for CTE infrastructure. 

Maternity leave for teachers (AB 500) Assemblywoman Gonzales – Vetoed by the Governor

AB 500 would have required school districts and community colleges to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers and classified employees. 

Charter School Regulation (AB 1505) Assemblyman O’DonnellSigned into law

AB 1505 makes various changes to the processes of charter school authorization, appeals and renewal. Important to CATA is a newly hired charter school teacher is required to have a certificate of clearance and the required credential for their teaching assignment.

CATA Update

Congratulations to the following individuals for being selected to receive their Honorary American Degrees at the 2019 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis: Carlos Lopez, Reedley; Rosemary Cummings, Nipomo; Dustin Sperling, San Joaquin Delta College; Lilly Pimentel, Hanford; Ralph Mosqueda, Hemet; Elizabeth Ammon, Susanville; Theresa Noga, Ferndale; and Sonia Falaschi, Los Banos. CATA hosted an Honorary American Degree dinner in Indianapolis for the California recipients. 

Elimination of the CalAgPlate Program 

Since the call to give away 3,000 license plates was given over a month ago, only 98 plates have been given away. The CalAgPlate program is in danger being eliminated. Currently the number of plates on the road has dropped below the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) required threshold. If we don’t get 3,000 more plates registered the program will be discontinued. To date California FFA has allocated $273,523 to the CalAgPlate Program and as a result has received $1,238,607 in proceeds. These funds are used annually to fund portions of the California FFA News, State FFA Conference, and all of the FFA leadership conferences across the state. If every chapter gave away 10 plates, we would easily reach our goal.  


Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn.

P.O. Box 186
Galt, CA, California 95632

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit

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