Sacramento Scene, April 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

As with the rest of the world, these are unprecedented times at the California State Capitol. Last week the Legislature pushed back its scheduled return by three weeks and is now scheduled to reconvene on May 4. Currently, both Assembly and Senate members are working from their districts until public health officials declare it safe to return to Sacramento. Governor Newsom has stated that the legislative calendar is “fluid” and the 2020/2021 proposed budget released in January “is no longer operable.”  

Moving forward, representatives from both houses have been asked to greatly reduce the number of bills they actively pursue. Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon, stated it is unknown what committee hearings, sessions or legislative deadlines will look like when the legislature reconvenes. The Assembly made no plans for distance voting or virtual sessions before leaving for recess and they would have to reconvene to do so. Meanwhile, the Senate passed SR 86, a resolution that allows the Senate to meet and vote remotely. 

Further complicating the situation, the tax deadline has been pushed back to July 15. This extended date makes it difficult to calculate the revenue for a budget that is scheduled to be passed by midnight on June 15. The delayed personal income tax deadline will leave revenues undeterminable until August resulting in a second round of deliberations that has been dubbed an “August Revision” of the budget. 

In a letter released last week to the legislature, the Department of Finance (DOF) stated: “The economic disruption from the pandemic is expected to result in a recession and have significant negative effects on state revenues; concurrently, the drop in the stock market may cause further revenue declines.” The entire letter can be found here.

Plain and simple as a direct result of the pandemic, state expenses are up and revenue is down. Nothing in the budget is sacred with everything on the table to be cut or reduced. California is facing a recession and the cost of COVID-19 recovery will be in the billions, affecting the next several budget cycles. 

Governor’s Education Executive Orders 

Executive Order N-26-20, March 13, ensures that schools continue to receive funding and outlining key efforts that schools should pursue (press release).

Executive Order N-30-20, March 17, suspends standardized testing for students in response to COVID-19 outbreak. (press release).

CATA Conference 2020

Due to concerns with the coronavirus COVID-19 the 2020 California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) Conference has been cancelled. California Polytechnic State University and CATA have determined that it is in best interest of public safety to cancel the event. All June events on the campus have been suspended. The agriculture department of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and CATA have a long partnership and will continue working together when the pandemic subsides. 

The CATA Governing Board meets weekly and has already started planning a virtual conference. The virtual conference will allow CATA to conduct the business of the organization and connect agriculture teachers from across the state during these trying times.

Updates on the status of the virtual conference and all things related to CATA will be made on the weekly Zoom updates Thursdays at 12:30 pm. Click on this link to join the meeting.

Lessons I learned from Mrs. Goehring

Mrs. Goehring is my daughter’s first-grade teacher and I liked her from the moment I met her. During the visit to her classroom for back to school night, I saw her proudly display an autographed photo of Vanilla Ice. Some of you are googling at this point and the rest of us are humming ‘Ice, Ice, Baby!’ Earlier that summer, Mrs. Goehring waited in line at Lumber Liquidators grand opening to meet the 90’s celebrity and get his autograph. The qualities of determination, initiative, and self-assurance demonstrated by the photograph assured me that my child was in great hands for the coming year.  

Fast forward to the pandemic, Elk Grove Unified was one of the first districts in the state to suspend school in reaction to COVID-19. As a result, my two daughters have been home for over a month and I was eager for the district to give guidance via distance learning about their education. I hovered in the background listening to the first Zoom meeting for Mrs. Goehring’s class expecting to hear lessons of common core math and language arts. These kids have been out of school for weeks, ‘let’s get to work’ was my attitude. But you know what Mrs. Goehring did instead? She just talked to the kids, calling each of them by name and asking about how they were doing. She encouraged them to talk about how they were adapting to being away from school and inquired about the health of their families. She coached them through the technology of their “new” classroom and reminded them how to get lunch at school if they needed it. She simply connected with each and every one of them. 

As agriculture teachers we fill many roles in the lives of our students. We are educators, mentors, and in some cases, provide the only sense of stability. We strive to make our FFA programs a place of belonging and acceptance for all students. I value content and rigor and regularly preach their importance. I live and breathe the three circles and I believe now more than ever in their relevance. But Mrs. Goehring reminded me that those are only part of what students are missing in these unprecedented times.  Each district has adopted different strategies for instruction as a result of current world events. Some have forbidden student contact or accountability of assignments, while others require daily online instruction and rigorous grading. Regardless of our districts’ policies we can all provide some sort of connection and normalcy for our students. In more restrictive districts, regularly updating the chapter website or making social media posts about FFA can help. For those of us fortunate enough to have regular virtual contact with our students, make sure to connect with each student regularly. The same thing that we all attempted to do every day, in that distant memory of school way back in February.   

Good health to you and your loved ones,

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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 http://calagteachers.org/

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