California Department of Education Update, March 2020

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

Change seems to be inevitable here at CDE. March 1 saw Lupita Cortez-Alcala transition from CDE to a new position at West Ed. Lupita is a dear friend of Ag Education and the presence will be missed. She understood our mission and saw first hand its impact at the 2019 State FFA Leadership Conference. Her comments to those in attendance still resonate today. She often shared that the letters she received from students and teachers made her feel proud to be a leader in education. I know that Mr. Mooney will miss her hugs and I will miss her leadership and desire to be a role model for students and teachers. We wish her the best as she moves into the private world at West Ed.

With the departure of Lupita, we want to welcome our new Chief Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Stephanie Gregson. Dr. Gregson brings an incredible hybrid of educational and leadership experience that stems from her previous role as a teacher and administer at the district level, her tenure as the former Director of the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division and as the Deputy Superintendent of the Instruction & Measurement Branch. I am looking forward to meeting Dr. Gregson in the coming weeks. Her commitment to California’s students will align nicely with what we do in Agricultural Education.


The Coronavirus seems to be the only story each night in the news, with new details changing by the minute. We at CDE and FFA are making every effort to stay informed with the latest updates and their effect on our programs. With the closing of schools, colleges and universities, our normal Spring routine has changed. When we are prepared to make recommendations, a new revelation or announcement is made. At this time, we are reviewing all of our options in an effort to provide a State Leadership Conference as well as to hold State Final events. Given the information we have, we can most certainly agree that what occurs will not follow our usual pattern. However, please know that we are working diligently to ensure that what we do provide will be professional and comprehensive. As this continues to be a fluid situation, new information will be shared as it becomes available.

Award Results

If you have not already looked, award results can be found here. This year, Proficiency Award winners will be determined based on the application scores. The rankings of each area by the three scores will be used to determine the final placings.

For State Scholarships, we will work with the sponsors to determine if they wish to conduct virtual interviews. Those that wish to can use an interview along with the application scores in determining the winners. In instances where the sponsor does not wish to hold virtual interviews, the winners will be determined by their application scores only.

In the Agriscience Fair, winners will be determined by their application scores and a virtual display. On-site interviews will not be held this year.

As we move forward, additional decisions will be made relative to award programs and when official announcements will be made.

Ag Incentive Grant

Final allocations for the 2019-2020 Ag Incentive Grant are being processed and will be sent to finance in the coming week. Those with adjustments will be receiving a revised AO400 which must be signed by the Superintendent. We will keep you informed when those are mailed.

Due to the cancelation of events and the closing of schools, the final date for expending 2019-2020 Ag Incentive Grant funds has been extended to September 30, 2020. All funds must be encumbered by this date and included in the Report of Expenditures which is due October 15.

Perkins funds, based on the requirements at the Federal Level, must adhere to the current guidelines. CTEIG funds, which is already a year behind in implementation, will also be held to the current requirements. Should these be adjusted in the future, we will provide teachers with the details.

State Finals

With the cancelation of field days and even some state finals, a contingency plan is being developed. This plan, in cooperation with host sites, will provide some direction for when and where State Final events will be held. Please know that it is extremely likely that State Finals as we have come to know it will not be the same this year. We will make every effort to follow the curricular code to the best of our ability. But, some State Finals may be at different locations. As these plans are developed, additional information will be provided. 

With everything that is happening, extended school breaks, cancelation of events, etc., the one point of stability may simply be knowing that change is occurring. In agricultural education, adjusting has never been something that we are afraid of; typically we embrace change and may even look forward to something new. Your students are looking to you for leadership during these uncertain times. I am confident that with your assistance and understanding, that we will survive the worldwide event and be in an even better position as a “family”.

Finally, I want to extend congratulations to those that are receiving their State FFA Degree. This is the highest honor a State Association can bestow upon a member. Those that will be receiving the Golden Key should be proud of what they have accomplished. And to the teachers, thank you for encouraging your students and helping them through the process. When they walk on stage and receive their degree, you must feel pride in what they are accomplishing and the part you played.

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

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