Sacramento Scene, August 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Currently, the California Assembly has adjourned until Monday, August 24, the Senate is still in Session and met over the weekend to finish up some business from the week. Because of current events, the Legislature pared back on the number of bills brought forward. This Session, the two houses will be hearing and voting on just over 500 bills Compared to an average year of processing 2,000 bills, they are processing about a fourth of their usual bill load. 

The 2020-21 California State Budget is dependent in part on funding from the federal government. The current political climate in Washington D.C. doesn’t appear conducive to a swift decision on state allocations. Political jockeying, lawsuits, executive orders and nasty exchanges on social media have caused a stalemate. With an impending general election, there is a definite possibility that things continue to languish.    

The following are notable bills or laws for the 2020 Session;

AB 1384 (O’Donnell) Local educational agencies: liability for COVID-19-related injuries. This bill attempts to reduce COVID liability for school districts. The bill did not get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It appears that no-one wants to absorb the potential liability of COVID-19, not even the state of California. 

AB 1460 (Weber) California State University: graduation requirement: ethnic studies. This bill would require all 2024 and beyond CSU graduates to complete an ethnic studies course. This bill has passed both houses, and Governor Newsom has until August 15 to sign the bill into law. 

California Department of Education (CDE) has released the latest recommendations related to the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for K-12. The CDE recommends that the curriculum remain rooted in four disciplines of ethnic studies- African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. The Instructional Quality Commission will review the curriculum during their quarterly meeting on August 13. The revisions will be open for public comment in the fall. By law, the final vision must be adopted by March 2021. California is required by law to develop this model curriculum to be used as a guide for schools as they consider implementing ethnic studies courses. 

CATA Governing Board and Executive Committee 

The Executive Committee and the Governing Board met in early August to plan the year ahead. 

Items discussed included; CATA Summer Conference Review, Officer Duties, the CATA Calendar of Activities and the Advanced Leadership Development Conference. Summer Conference 2021 was also a significant topic of discussion. CATA staff look at three possible scenarios for the conference. Those scenarios are as follows;

  • An in-person Conference at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • An in-person Conference at a privately owned event center
  • A virtual Conference

The CATA Governing Board will make a decision and announcement on the 2021 Conference in the first week of February. 

CATA will be hosting the Region I National Association of Agricultural Educators conference in California in 2022. The meeting will occur the week of April 25. A location has yet to be determined. 

FFA Adult Board

The finances of the California FFA Association are in good standing despite the turbulence of last spring. Over 95% of the money laid out for deposits or payments for the 2020 State FFA Convention was recovered. The Association reclaimed $760,000 from vendors providing services and facilities for the conference. The monies not returned were used for services, supplies and travel rendered. 

This is not what I signed up for

This phase is being muttered by teachers, new and old in 2020. This fall, most of us will be in strange territory, we will all be first year teachers. Every lesson will be freshly constructed, reconfigured SAE’s, reinvented FFA activities and even staff meetings and district training will be unfamiliar. 

The one thing that remains constant is students. This year kids need their ag teachers more than ever. They need a place to belong and feel connected to a school they are not allowed to step foot on. A large population of students could literally disappear and fall through the digital sanitized cracks of a COVID infected bureaucracy. 

The current situation is frustrating and asinine to all involved. The year presents a chance for teachers to truly make a difference by showing up every day with a positive attitude and connecting with all kids. The phrase all kids, every period of every day, is more applicable now than ever before. 

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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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