California Department of Education Update, February 2020

By: Charles Parker, California Department of Education, State FFA Advisor

Opportunities are Coming

Advanced Leadership Academy, Chapter Meetings, Sectional CATA Meeting, Mentoring Conference, project visits, judging team practice, AET and yes, award applications! And I was just assigned to chaperone the Winter Homecoming Dance.

Oh, I almost forgot, the principal is asking for my lesson plans for tomorrow and to top it off, my two kids and caring spouse are at home waiting to see me in the daylight so that I can mow the pasture (I mean the front lawn) and repair the roof before the next rain storm.

As agriculture teachers, you do an outstanding job and do not get the credit you deserve. Other teachers give you that quick look that asks “are you crazy?” while administrators don’t care what you do as long as you make them look good. And yes, State Staff seems to always add another report or activity to that already overbooked schedule.

A long time ago, I would pray each night that a day be 26 hours or that we have eight days a week. Fortunately, my prayers were never answered. The thought was: “give me more time and I can do all things.” The real truth is that I enjoy the busy days and sleepless nights. It is what an agriculture teacher does.

Whenever we add something to our schedule, such as a new team or even helping coach a little league team, we never remove anything from the calendar. In 2021, the State FFA Leadership Conference will move to March. This move will of course impact judging events throughout the state. Many qualifiers, especially for the leadership events, will move up in the calendar. These changes, at first glance, will result in the month of April with open dates.

No, that can’t be possible, a free weekend! Of course not – we will simply add more jackpot shows or possibly more field days. It is what we do, engage more students in activities that allow them to display what they have learned in and out of the classroom.

As you begin to plan for 2020-2021, keep in mind the choice is up to you, you can add more to your already full schedule, or you can elect to use time for your personal interests. The good thing, there is no right or wrong answer, there is only that solution that best fits you.

Well, for me it is time to get back to that mandated report the 5th floor is expecting and juggle the return call with an overzealous parent. But, I will be smiling for I do love what I do and who I get to work with. Onward and upward!

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


Sacramento Scene, February 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

On January 10, Governor Gavin Newsom submitted his 2019-2020 “California for All” proposed budget. In all the historic budget is $222.2 billion. Below is a recap of the portions of the budget that relate specifically to agricultural and career technical education. 

2019-2020 Proposition 98 Funding 

The Proposition 98 funding for K-12 schools and community colleges for 2020-21 is $84 billion, an all-time high. K-12 per-pupil spending is increasing from $17,508 in 2019-20 to $17,964 in 2020-21—the highest level ever. 

2019-2020 K-12 Career Technical Education Funding 

The current budget contains similar levels in funding for K-12 Career Technical Education (CTE) as last year’s budget. The Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) is included at $150 million. The K-12 Strong Workforce (SWF) Grant is also scheduled at $150 million, with an additional $14 million for staffing. Lastly, the Agricultural Incentive Grant is budgeted at the 2019-2020 level. 

Increased scrutiny is being placed on K-12 CTE funding by the legislature and the Board of Education. Two things have raised questions about how these funds are being allocated. Item number one is a change in the interpretation of the CTEIG’s funding formula which drastically reduced funding to smaller districts. The second item is complaints from the field with the application and distribution process of K-12 SWF funding. The CTE technical assistants that were supposed to be hired with money from K-12 SWF have yet to materialize.  With both CTE programs experiencing challenges the distribution and accountability, it will be interesting to see what types of changes are adopted moving forward.

Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond 

The Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020 will be voted on March 3rd. If approved by California voters, $15 billion will be allocated for facility construction at both secondary and post-secondary educational sites. The money is set to be allocated in the following ways: 

  • $6 billion for higher education, with $2 billion each for community colleges, California State University and the University of California.
  • $5.2 billion would support K-12 modernization projects, including $150 million to support lead in drinking water testing and remediation. 
  • $2.8 billion would support new K-12 construction projects. 
  • $500 million would support K-12 charter school construction projects.
  • $500 million would support K-12 career technical education projects. 

If approved by the voters in the Presidential Primary Election on March 3, this measure would introduce significant changes relative to the funding of school facilities including, increasing the bonding capacity. Changes would include increasing the assessed value of taxable property for elementary and high school districts from 1.25% to 2.0% and increasing the assessed value of taxable property from 2.5% to 4.0% for unified school districts and community college districts.

Higher Education

The Budget proposes total funding of $36 billion for higher education. The total reflects growth of approximately $111 million compared 2019-20. 

California Community Colleges (CCC’s) 

The Student-Centered Funding Formula was established in the 2018 Budget to replace the enrollment-based apportionments formula. Because the student centered formula is only in its second year of implementation, no drastic changes are budgeted for 2020-21.

The big change for the CCC is the $83.2 million increase to support apprenticeship programs. The money will be used for the creation of apprenticeship opportunities in priority and emerging industry sectors, to expand work-based learning, and cover the cost of increased apprenticeship instructional hours.  

California State University 

The Budget includes a five-percent increase in base resources, or $199 million in ongoing General Funds, to support the CSU’s operational costs, expand CSU enrollment, and work on the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025. The initiative seeks to increase four-year graduation rates by 40% by 2025. In addition, the Budget includes $6 million one-time funds to develop or expand degree and certificate programs via the extended and continuing education programs.

University of California

The UC system will also get a five-percent increase in base resources for campuses. The Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources were specifically identified in the budget to receive part of the increase. In addition to this ongoing funding increase, the Budget contained one-time funding to support degree and certificate completion programs.  

Moving Forward

CATA will follow the budget pieces that are specific and impactful to agricultural education at the secondary and post-secondary levels as they move through the system. Visits with both the Governor’s Office and the Department of Finance are ongoing to insure that our interests are being safeguarded.  

Perkins V

In the State of the Union Address President Trump announced funding for “Vocational and Technical” education in all schools. The federal budget was released on February 10th and contained cuts for education in general but contained good news for CTE.  Perkins is proposed to get nearly $900 million in additional funding. This proposal would include a $680 million increase for Perkins Basic State Grants, $83 million increase for competitive national grant programs, and an additional $100 million that could come from the H-1B visa program.

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Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn.mpatton@calagteachers.org209 744-1605

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

Praxair and Metabo Unite With California Ag Education to Recruit Ag Mechanics Teachers

By: Bill Kellogg, STAR Team Member

At the World Ag Expo in Tulare this year, members of the California State Teach Ag Results (STAR) team, under the leadership of our statewide Recruitment and Retention Coordinator for the California Teach Ag Campaign, Bonnie Baxter, will be trying an innovative approach to encourage people in the Ag industry to become secondary level Ag mechanics teachers. The goal of this project is to reach out specifically to men to encourage them to consider teaching as a profession.

Praxair Distribution Inc. is a leading supplier of welding gasses and supplies for secondary Ag programs throughout the state of California. Bill Bright, Director of Business Development and Productivity at Praxair, has graciously allowed the STAR team to occupy a space of “prime real estate” in their display tent at the World Ag Expo this week. Thousands of guests visit the Praxair tent every year. Our hope is to interact with men who might consider a change in their profession.  

The Metabo Corporation, under the leadership of Jeff Horton, West Coast End User Specialist, has donated premium hand-held grinders for the team to give-a-way each day of the show as another way to encourage guests to stop and visit with STAR team members. CATA members ought to remember Jeff as the one who presented an excellent professional workshop, and who attended the Farm Show at last year’s CATA Summer Conference. Metabo has been a great partner and supporter of Ag Education in California.

STAR team leadership has been researching credentialing options for people in the Ag industry who want to become teachers. The San Diego County Office of Education has a robust, solely online, Designated Subject (DS) credential program that works with school districts throughout the state. The Director of the San Diego County Office of Education DS program, Dr. Sheiveh Jones, has agreed to work with STAR team members at the booth at the World Ag Expo to answer questions people may have about earning a DS credential.

With Ag mechanics as the area with the highest enrollment of secondary Ag students, and a need to attract men into the Ag teaching profession, STAR team members are hoping to meet the need for additional teachers and to affect the gender balance of high school Ag teachers. CATA members who visit the World Ag Expo are encouraged to stop by the Praxair tent and provide an endorsement to the value of our profession to students and the Ag industry. See you in Tulare!

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

A Jacket for Those in Need

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Because of the generous support of donors, Giving Tuesday donation efforts raised enough money for 890 FFA jackets, which is the equivalent of $66,750.

There is an opportunity for FFA students in need to be recommended to receive an FFA jacket free of charge. Identify students from your chapter to receive a jacket. Every chapter is eligible for at least two free jackets, additional jackets may be available if funds are available. Applications in excess of available funds will await funding through the Give the Gift of Blue program with National FFA. 

Jacket redemption will be handled through the National FFA Give Blue program. Working with National FFA allowed us to secure a jacket and a tie or scarf at $75, which included shipping to your FFA Chapter, tax, etc. To redeem your chapter’s jacket, please follow the instructions below. Applications will be processed in batches. 

1. Select a student to complete the application, or you can complete the application on their behalf.

2. Whoever completes the application needs to log into their National FFA account. Visit

3. If the student is not already on your national roster, please email Trisha Chapman at She can assist in getting them added.

4. From there, follow the application directions. It is advised to have the following information ready and accessible when you start the process.

  • You will need to know the member’s state, chapter, and full name to select the student from the chapter roster. In Step 1, fill in the first and last name of the member you are nominating. Then select the state and chapter from the dropdown list. Next, look at the list of members and select  the student from the list using the students first 3 initials of his/her last name and the first initial of their first name. This will be used to verify the student is an official member of this chapter and provide the advisor reviewing the application with all the student’s information.
  • You will need to know what size standard jacket you want to order for your nominee and what style tie or scarf. To see the tie and scarf options please click on the link “Shop FFA” and click on “Official Dress.”
  • You will also need to write a “Nomination Statement” explaining why this member should receive a jacket from the Give the Gift of Blue program. This program was designed to gift jackets to members who will take full advantage of the opportunities offered in FFA. Funding is limited, so make sure your nominee fits this requirement.

Please be sure to complete the application process to redeem jackets for your chapter. Jackets will be shipped directly to your FFA chapter, via the address included on the application. 

Thank you again for your role in making this program become a reality. If you have any questions, please email Matt Patton at

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

You Are Where You Are Because Of Who You Are!

By: Greg Beard, California Department of Education, South Coast Region Supervisor

It is time to stop, look, and reassess where you are and realize you are there because of who you are! Of course, you feel as though you are sitting in your classroom being an effective teacher. But, ask yourself, are you content with the path in which you and your department are heading?  

Before you so quickly agree, think what would happen if you had a major catastrophe within your program. A disaster could be one that affects significant funding, a reduction of staff, the elimination of SAE periods, or even stopping your year-round contracts.  Of course, one obvious solution would be to call your Regional Supervisor. Fully understood, after all, that is what our job is all about:helping agriculture programs succeed!  

As I write this article, I think it is important to stress how my colleagues and I can tackle and solve several issues, but there are some that are out of our control and jurisdiction that you must handle alone. Sure, we can make our recommendations, but when “reality” talks, your district and the major decision makers on your campus are the ones who make those crucial decisions affecting your professional future. Please understand we can only address technical issues, not personnel issues.

The time to act is now! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that our professional life ahead is not always going to be easy for any of us, despite the quality of agriculture programs we think we have.  And, while you ask yourself “am I ready for what could be the ‘snowball’ from hell?” If you don’t have a strong, and I mean powerful, Advisory Committee in place – you’re not. You are where you are, because of who you are! If you have not moved forward and planned ahead with an Advisory Committee that fulfills all of Criteria 6C on the AIG Checklist, you will be where you are, because of what you didn’t do!  

Yes, we have some strong Advisory Committees out there and those with them in place have no sympathy for the others who don’t. They don’t have sympathy because they know, first-hand, how hard they work at maintaining an effective Committee and the important role they play in saving their program from ‘outside enemies.’ Unfortunately, for a significant number of California Agriculture Education programs, the Advisory Committee remains the same – a handful of individuals who show up, maybe twice a year, in a deserted classroom, nod their heads in agreement to report after report on the events of the agriculture/FFA program and enjoy an incredible meal (if they are lucky!).If you are a program who has an Advisory Committee like that, or one that does not exist at all, I’ve got a few ideas for you to implement and do it right!  

Your Advisory Committee members need to be major players in the community whom others respect, listen to, follow and firmly believe in you and the direction the program is moving. They must be committed to serving, making a difference in the program, and have a reason to work on the students and program’s behalf. You can’t get this allegiance overnight! Communication must be on-going.Take a look at how your District Superintendent utilizes his/her Board members to their advantage. Mimic his or her methods of communication and empowering decision making. The Superintendent accommodates the School Board members and keeps them informed. Just because your School Board meets bi-monthly does not mean that they speak with district officials for four to six hours a month and that is it.

When you are done with your Advisory Committee meetings, keep them informed, provide them with updates on district, school, and departmental matters affecting the longevity of the program. Get them to your monthly local or sectional activities and don’t be afraid or intimidated to have them in attendance. I realize the time away from their personal and professional responsibilities is limited, but capitalize on it when they are available. Knowledge is power and the more they know, the stronger they are in your community while at social gatherings with their peers, while attending lunch meetings or power breakfasts with their colleagues discussing the “educational happenings” within their community. You must cultivate the power and harvest it from time to time. 

When the time comes, and I hope it never does, who will really fight for you? Do you have six strong individuals who when they speak, the ground beneath them shakes, and others fall to their knees? That is the true power of an Advisory Committee. When you have that, you know that you have the community and the industry behind you in the challenge that lies ahead. 

Now, don’t anyone think that I have based my assessments of California’s Agricultural Education programs on my affiliation with the South Coast Region programs just because I serve as their Supervisor. That thought is further from the truth and I am embarrassed for you if you thought that. If you take the time to develop an effective Advisory Committee, or already have one in place and implemented, when the dust flies within your district, and you know it does and always will, you will know: WHERE YOU ARE IS BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE!

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