Sacramento Scene: May 2021

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

The legislative budget cycle now awaits the release of Governor Newsom’s May revise. This revision gives the governor’s office and the Department of Finance the opportunity to modify the proposed budget that was released in January. Current economic factors are taken into consideration during this revision period. There is little indication that dramatic changes are in order, but there are no sure things in politics.

Bills That Impact Ag and Career Technical Education

AB-839 (O’Donnell) This bill would add $150 million to the Career Technical Incentive Grant (CTEIG) Program. The Superintendent of Public Instruction has endorsed the bill, and Senator McGuire of the Senate Education Committee has agreed to put his name on the bill. The bill is currently in appropriations as the budget enters the May revise. CATA has taken a position of support on this bill.

AB-101 (Medina) AB-101 would add a graduation requirement of one semester of ethnic studies to all high schools in California. This bill has reached the governor’s desk the last two years but was vetoed. The governor stated both times that the curriculum needed revisions. Changes have been made and vetted by the California Board of Education. Many groups oppose the bill stating that several groups are marginalized or omitted from the curriculum.

SB-309 (Leyva) This bill changes the Education Code to financially incentivize schools to include A-G classes to provide college prep classes to high school students. CATA has taken a position of support, if amended. Senator Leyva has been approached to amend the bill by adding incentives to schools adding a CTE pathway to students.

CC AWET Positions – The California Chancellor’s Office is still proposing the reallocation of the funding used to support the state-wide director and regional directors of Agriculture Water and Environmental Technology. This reallocation would result in the termination of Nancy Gutierrez and regional directors unless regional consortiums fund the positions. Vice Chancellor Weber has met with industry leaders, community college agricultural deans, CATA, and Legislators but refuses to reverse course on this issue.

Updates

Certification Update

The work started with the CRAECPC (Central Region Agricultural Education Career Pathway Consortium) Grant will continue to move forward under the Agricultural Pathway Certification Program. An account of the funding of this K-12 Strong Work Force grant of nearly $1 million awarded earlier this academic year is outlined in the December 2020 Golden Slate. There are three primary deliverables for this K12 SWP funding stream:

  1. Offset the cost of the Tier 1 Online Certification Assessment hosting fees through June 2023
  2. Offset the cost of facilitating Tier 2 Practicum Certification events in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years for Floriculture, Ag Welding, Power Mechanics, and Advanced Ag Mechanics
  3. Facilitate the development, field test, pilot, and standard setting for Tier 2 Practicum Certifications in Horticulture and Agriscience during the 2021-2022 academic year

Solidifying this grant ensures that the hard work started by the participating members of the CRAECPC Grant will be finalized and made sustainable well into the future. More importantly, the grant guarantees that students will be recognized for skill attainment in high school agriculture classes, validating their efforts. Strategic planning meetings with the grant leadership, Vivayic, and CATA have mapped out a strategy to finalize the project and to build a sustainable home for the program moving forward. 

The question has been asked why testing for Tier 1 certifications were not made available this spring. The answer remains the same as it was for last spring. Psychometric validation requires that the Tier 1 Online Certification Assessments be proctored in-person by an instructor. This core principle of all psychometrically validated assessments eliminated offering certifications independently to students in a fully online platform. Cost was also a significant factor in the decision to not offer the Tier 1 Online Certification assessments during the pandemic. The cost to provide access to the Tier 1 certification is approximately $54,000 for one year’s access – regardless if one student or 15,000 students access the assessment system. The vendor that facilitates that portion of the process has allowed pre-paid funds to be applied in the year following the pandemic. The third factor contributing to the elimination of Tier 1 Online Certification Assessments for the past two academic years was that reduced instructional time would adversely impact student success. Taking all of these factors into consideration, stakeholders begrudgingly agreed that certification testing was not financially responsible or pragmatic during pandemic impacted instruction.

This section of the article was written in conjunction with Dustin Sperling of Delta College who has been involved in formation of these certifications since the inception of the program.

CATA Conference

CATA’s virtual conference themed “Zooming into a New Decade” will be held June 21-24th. We will honor the achievements of our members, conduct the business of the organization, engage in professional development, and network and socialize.

Online registration is available at http://calagteachers.org in addition to a draft agenda for the conference.

Please sign up and join us for this important event celebrating the teachers of California agricultural education.

FFA Adult Board

It has been a dramatic three years for the FFA Adult Board, and that trend continues. California FFA has been involved in an ongoing dispute with Live-Light Entertainment since the 2018 State FFA Conference. Live-Light was the audio and visual vendor for the State FFA Conference for numerous years. Remaining with Live-Light became cost-prohibitive, and a new vendor was contracted for the 2019 conference. Live-Light contends that California FFA owes them money for “equipment” purchased to put on the State Conference the first year in Anaheim. Long story short, Live-Light filed a petition to compel arbitration in the Fresno Superior Court. After a hearing on the subject, the court failed to uphold the petition for arbitration, releasing California FFA from the proceeding. Since that time, Live-Light has indicated that they will pursue mediation or sue California FFA in Fresno Superior Court. At this point, no definitive action has been taken against California FFA. Information about the Live-Light dispute will be disseminated as it becomes available.

CalAgPlates

The distribution of the funds generated by the CalAgPlate program was negotiated between CA FFA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDF) at the inception of the program. As per the agreement, CDFA retains 10% of the annual total of the CalAgPlate program for administration. The remaining money allocated 85% to Tier 1 and 25% to Tier 2. The Tier 1 funding is dedicated to the California FFA, and the Tier 2 money is open to non-profit agricultural education programs in California. The rationale for FFA receiving the majority of the funds is based on the fact that the majority of the 7,500 plates registered to start the program were the result of California agricultural teachers and FFA students. This agreement has been informal up to this point. Without formalization, this agreement could be changed with a new administration at CDFA. Recently CDFA released a letter of intent setting a mutual understanding of the funding and eligibility opportunities of the CalAgPlate program. This letter of intent puts into writing the program’s history and the distribution agreement forged between California FFA and CDFA.

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

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