Sacramento Scene: February 2021

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

With a surplus predicted in the overall California State Budget and in education, and Prop 98 funding in abundance, attention has turned to returning students to in-person instruction. The Federal Government, state and local unions, legislators, the Governor’s Office, vaccine distribution capabilities, state and local health regulations, and advocacy groups are all contributing to the conversation. 

Governor Newsom conducted a press conference from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California’s latest mass COVID-19 vaccination site. The Governor reported that he and lawmakers are close to finalizing a new plan to reopen elementary grades. Newsom hinted that if teacher vaccinations are a requirement, then opening this year will be a challenge. 

The one certain thing is that students returning to the classroom full time will be complicated and arduous. 

Below are items that CATA is tracking concerning agricultural education and our profession: 

AB 10 (Ting, Bauer-Kahan, Boerner Horvath, Lorena Gonzalez, McCarty, Muratsuchi, O’Donnell, and Petrie-Norris) Pupil instruction: in-person instruction: distance learning

This bill would specify that the requirement to provide in-person instruction applies when instruction is allowed under state and local public health orders. 

AB 299 (Villapudua) Career Technical Education: Apprenticeship Grant Program. 

This bill would establish the Apprenticeship Grant Program for the 2022-23 academic year under the Student Aid Commission to provide grants to community college students seeking careers in career technical education and vocational programs via an apprenticeship. 

Agriculture Incentive Grant – Budget Change Proposal

A Budget Change Proposal (BCP) was submitted for the Ag Incentive Grant in the 2021-22 California State Budget. The BCP requested $10.1 million in additional funds. The BCP was submitted to the California Department of Education (CTE) at the beginning of January. A notification was recently made that the BCP will not be forwarded to the Department of Finance. The rationale given was that no BCP’s would be considered that do not directly relate to COVID. This type of justification is a common theme echoing in Sacramento. The priority in education is to open schools and get students back to in-person instruction. This priority is trumping other agendas during the current legislative session. 

CATA Summer Conference 

Based on the online survey responses and the current COVID situation, CATA Governing Board voted to move forward with a virtual conference at the end of June. Planning is underway, and recommendations for professional development sessions are appreciated.

Registration is now open and can be submitted electronically at http://calagteachers.org. Once the registration is complete, the final page will contain a receipt number, print the last page containing the receipt number, submit it to districts and retain a copy. An email confirmation will follow. Registration without a purchase order can be achieved by marking pending payments and then forwarding a hardcopy of PO to the CATA office when available. Any changes or adjustments should be made via email or phone call to the CATA office. 

Reminder

Registration for continuing education units (CEUs) must be processed directly through Fresno Pacific on their website https://ce.fresno.edu/workshops/open-enrollment-workshops/cal-poly-slo-ag-ed

  • Summer Conference 1 CEU: – $90 (To receive credit, a regional meeting and two professional sessions must be attended.) 
  • Regional Meeting/Road Show 1 CEU: – $90 (To receive credit you must attend and sign in at both Fall and Spring Regional Meetings as well as the Road Show.)

CATA and Career Development Events for 2021

The CATA Governing Board met in November to discuss the upcoming CDE and LDE season. The below language was drafted and adopted as it relates to state finals competition. CATA continues to communicate with state staff and host sights to ensure that quality contests will occur this spring. 

The California Agricultural Teachers’ Association’s (CATA’s) Executive Committee and Governing Board have made the following recommendation concerning the CATA Curricular Code for the 2020-2021 school year. Due to restrictions on gatherings at both Universities and Community Colleges during the 2020-2021 school year, it may become necessary to conduct California FFA State finals in Career Development Events (CDEs) and Leadership Development Events (LDEs) in modified formats. Every effort will be made to follow the Curricular Code in hosting these contests. But in light of COVID restrictions, it may be necessary to modify or adapt the Curricular Code to accommodate revised formats. CATA recognizes that these modifications may be required to facilitate contests under current conditions. Changes will be reviewed and approved by both the State Finals CDE State Staff arbitrator and the State Champion CDE CATA approved contest advisor.

CATA needs you

As we move towards spring and summer, there will be many opportunities to help lead this organization at all levels. Consider your skills and how you can help you, fellow ag teachers, as we transition to the unknown. The current sectional, regional, and state CATA leaders have done a fantastic job during these complicated times. Please consider accepting a nomination to lead.

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

Sacramento Scene: January 2021

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Governor Gavin Newsom released the 2021-22 State Budget last week. Indicators in California point to continued economic recovery, which was reflected in the budget. Proposition 98, which funds K-14 education, set a record at $89.2 billion. The California State University and the University of California systems received a proposed 3% increase from last year’s allocation (Fensterwarld, 2021). 

In a news conference, Newsom said his goal was to address the learning loss in disproportionately impacted student populations. He stated that distance learning had not met all students’ needs in an equal manner. 

The budget allocates $2 billion to facilitate the extra costs associated with in-person instruction. The best remedy to pandemic-related disruptions to student learning are best overcome by providing in-person instruction to students. These funds can be used for COVID-19 testing, PPP equipment, improving indoor ventilation systems, hiring teachers and classified staff and social and mental health support services. 

A portion of the budget surplus will be allocated to paying off deferrals from the 2019-20 budget, as well as adding to the Proposition 98 Rainy Day Fund (Governor’s Budget Summary, 2020). 

Highlights from the 2021-22 State Education Budget

  • $89.2 billion for total spending ($85.8 billion through Prop. 98 formula) K-12 and community colleges
  • $4.6 billion for summer school and extra learning time
  • $2 billion in one-time money to augment resources for schools offering in-person instruction
  • $500 million for teacher development programs.
  • $700 million in funding for programs that help students cope with anxiety, depression, stress and other disorders
  • An additional $300 million for special education
  • $44 million toward providing 4,500 more child care vouchers for low-income families
  • The CSU budget will increase to $144.5 million – a 3% increase
  • The UC system will increase to $136 million – a 3% increase
  • Post-secondary enrollment is projected to decline which will have a negative financial impact for 2021
  • Funding for K-12 CTE programs remains status quo.  

(Fensterwarld, 2021)

Proposition 98 Spending for the Last Decade

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

Sacramento Scene: December 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

2021-22 California State Education Budget

The most recent report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) predicts that Proposition 98 could see a surplus for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2021. The predicted abundance comes as a great surprise in light of the current economic downturn in California. Proposition 98 is the formula that determines funding for the K-12 and community college systems. The LAO pointed out the unpredictability that COVID-19 brings to calculating revenue and cautioned that predictions “will be wrong to some extent” (LAO, 2020). K-12 and community colleges receive approximately 40% of the General Fund. The proposed state budget released in January will be watched with guarded optimism.  

Assembly Bill 10

Three Democratic Assembly members introduced legislation on Monday that would require public school students to physically return to the classroom this spring after public health officials deem it safe. AB 10 was introduced as emergency legislation requiring that the bill be acted upon soon and implemented immediately if passed. The bill would require a 2/3 vote. Authors of the bill include: Assembly Members Phil Ting D-San Francisco of the Assembly Budget Committee; Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee; and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. This bill has not yet been electronically posted, and more information will follow as it becomes available.

Central Mother Loade Region Certification Grant

Thanks to the continued hard work and dedication of Dustin Sperling (Delta College), Cheryl Reece (Galt High School) and Dick Piersma (Hilmar High School), the certification work started with the CRAECPC grant will continue. A $925,000 K-12 Strong Workforce Grant was awarded to the Agricultural Pathway Certification Program. These funds will allow the great work started on industry-supported certifications to continue. Our brethren in the Central Region have carried the weight of this project for far too long. It is time that the ag teaching community from across the state join the cause in building a system that provides industry-recognized certifications for our students.

AIG BCP 

A Budget Change Proposal (BCP) to increase the Agriculture Incentive Grant (AIG) allocation will be submitted for the 2021-22 state budget. The BCP will initially introduced to the California Department of Education and will then be forwarded to the Department of Finance if approved. Last year a similar BCP stalled in April as the budget focus changed due to COVID. 

Blue Corduroy Classic 

California FFA Foundation will once again host the Blue Corduroy Classic to benefit the California FFA. The Blue Corduroy Classic, an online auction, is scheduled for January 31, 2021. In its third year, Blue Corduroy Classic benefits over 95,000 FFA students across California. This sale has generated nearly $30,000 in donations that have offset the cost of leadership conferences, career development events and many other activities for the young people that wear the Blue and Gold jackets.

Donations will be auctioned off with the help of Show Circuit Online Sales. Last year’s auction reached thousands of supporters across the nation. This year’s event will be promoted through all of California FFA’s social media platforms, the California FFA Foundation E-Newsletters and the newly designed website. Donors will receive recognition and thanks on all platforms before and after the event.

Ag Plates 

In recent Regional meetings, the topic of the CalAgPlate has been a topic of conversation. The facts of the program are as follows:

  • California FFA gets approximately $215,000 annually from the CalAgPlate program.
  • California FFA gets 85% of the available funds from the CalAgPlate program.
  • All of the CalAgPlate funds that come to CA FFA goes to student programs. None of the money allocated to CA FFA is used for salaries, overhead, or administrative expenses.
  • Since the inception of the program, CA FFA has invested $273,000 in the program and received $1.5 million in revenue.
  • The current number of CalAgPlates on the road is approximately 7,000.

Lots of great ideas were shared at regional meetings and the discussion is essential for building the program. California agricultural teachers are the ones that did the groundwork to initiate the program, and we will continue to be the ones that sustain it. If every ag teacher gave away one plate annually, the program would grow exponentially. Eventually, we would reach the point where all leadership conferences were provided to students free of charge. The more plates that are on the road, the lower the cost for student services. Please encourage one person you know to fill out a form and mail it to the California FFA Center.

Recharge

During the upcoming winter break, take some time to reconnect with family and friends. We have all endured the most surreal year in recent history. Take some time in December to recharge and take inventory of the positive things in your life. Ag teachers are resilient and adaptable by nature, and these skills have definitely been called upon this year. Spring is traditionally a busy time in our profession and all indications are that this one will be more so. The winter break is an opportunity to take respite before we embark on 2021.    

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/

Sacramento Scene, November 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

UC Davis Threatens to Suspend the Credentialing Teacher Program

In October, the UC Davis School of Education announced that it would pursue the suspension of the fifth-year masters and credentialing program for all subject areas. Davis’s School of Education made the following announcement prior to putting the decision to a faculty vote: “Among our priorities will be better integrating our innovative research into our curriculum, expanding and deepening the ways we prepare our graduates to address institutional racism, and increasing the use of digital tools for teaching and learning.”

In the education program at Davis, professors were told to prepare for furloughs with the possibility of reapplying for their jobs at an undisclosed date. This was planned despite California facing a significant teacher shortage and the Davis program enrollment remaining stable over the last five years.

The protest to the proclamation was immediate and widespread. Faculty, alumni, and the education community all rallied in opposition. An alumni-lead petition, numerous letters, e-mails and phone calls caused a reversal of the decision. 

Less than a week after the announcement, Lauren Lindstrom, Dean of Education, released a statement proclaiming that while she is “still convinced that a major redesign is necessary, we have listened to faculty, staff and community input and have decided to slow down our process.” The faculty vote was suspended, and admissions to the program remain open for the 2021 academic year (Flaherty, 2020). 

Thank you to everyone who answered the call and voiced concerns to UC Davis about this issue. It was your swift and decisive response that reversed the decision to suspend the program. The hope is that redesigning or updating the curriculum can be accomplished without disrupting teacher candidates’ pipeline into this noble profession. 

Californians Reject Proposition 16

On election day, California voters rejected Proposition 16 that would have restored affirmative action in government agencies and public universities. The vote was 56.1% to 43.9%, defeating the proposition. The defeat comes despite a significant campaign to pass the proposal with over $20 million in contributions. In comparison, contributions to defeat Proposition 16 garnered only $1.5 million. 

Proposition 15, Too Close to Call 

The morning after the election, with 82% of the precincts reporting, the vote was 51.7 % in opposition and 48.3% in support of Proposition 15. If passed, the proposition would amend the California State Constitution to require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on current market value. The proposition would institute a split roll tax assessing taxes on residential properties based on the purchase price and commercial properties at market value. Revenues from the tax increase would be allocated to schools, community colleges and county and local governments.  

National FFA Convention

A week removed from the National FFA Convention, congratulations are in order for numerous FFA members, ag teachers and programs across California. The work put in by State Staff, teachers, students and volunteers are greatly appreciated and reflects favorably on California Ag Education. California had a robust year matching or breaking previous records in Agriscience and Proficiency competitions. California had four National Agriscience research winners, tying the record set in 2008 for the most category wins. Additionally, California posted nine National Proficiency winners, breaking the record set in 2007 of seven. California once again has a National FFA Officer, now with a run of three over the last four years. Congratulations again to all the students and coaches that didn’t let the pandemic keep them from participating and competing.

Sacramento Scene

As election results wrap up across the state and the focus returns to the Sacramento capital business, several things become clear. First, the Democrats will maintain a supermajority in the Assembly, Senate and hold the Governor’s office. Secondly, lean economic times are on the horizon. With large portions of the California economy still dealing with the impact of the pandemic and related restrictions, tax revenue will be down, and funding needs will be up. The challenge in the next several budget cycles will be to maintain Career Technical Education and Ag Education funding at current levels. It is anticipated that the January Budget will be bleak. 

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/

Sacramento Scene, October 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Sacramento Scene 

The last day of September marked the deadline for Governor Gavin Newsom to pass final judgment on bills passed at the end of the legislative session in August. The following is a summary of two bills related to education that were vetoed:

AB 331 – Governor Newsom surprisingly vetoed Assembly Bill 331. The bill passed by the Assembly and the Senate would have mandated high school students pass an ethnic studies class to graduate from high school starting in 2029-2030. Newsom sighted the continued disagreement over a proposed model ethnic studies curriculum as the reason for not supporting the bill. The Governor was quoted as saying, “In my opinion, the latest draft, which is currently out for review, still needs revision” (Fensterwarld, 2020).

AB 1835 – This bill rejected by the Governor would have made the first significant change to the K-12 Local Control Funding Formula since its inception in 2013. The bill authored by Assemblymember Weber would have eliminated a school district’s ability to carry over funding budgeted for low-income students, English Learners, and foster youth to be used the following year in any category deemed necessary. Newsom acknowledged a problem with the law but sighted flaws in AB 1835 that would make implementing it difficult (Fensterwarld, 2020).  

The November ballot brings with it two propositions that could have an impact on education. It will be up to California voters to determine if they are implemented. The propositions on the ballet are as follows:

Proposition 15 – Initiative Constitutional Amendment – Increase funding sources for public schools, community colleges and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.

If passed, this proposition would amend Proposition 13, a tax initiative passed in 1978. Passage would create a “split-roll tax” changing the rules for assessing commercial and industrial properties’ value. Properties would be reassessed every three years at market value. The reassessment’s revenue would be allocated to schools, community colleges and county and local governments. Learn more

Proposition 16 – Legislative Constitutional Amendment – Allows diversity as a factor in public employment, education, and contracting decisions.

If passed, this proposition would allow government decision-making policies to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to address diversity by repealing Article I, Section 31, of the California Constitution. This part of the constitution was added by the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996. Proposition 209 prohibits State and local governments from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment or education. Therefore, Proposition 209 bans the use of affirmative action in the California public sector.

The focus now in Sacramento turns to the election in November. Some think that voting in California will make little difference because of the supermajority in the State. But several elections will have an impact on your community, school and program. Making informed decisions about your representative in the Assembly and Senate and school board members, and city or county leadership, have local significance. Get out and exercise your right to vote.

Who We Are

AET is a powerful tool that serves the agricultural education community in countless ways. The system is continuously improving and evolving and can be used for endless analytical analysis of students, teachers and programs. AET provides an insight into the makeup of the secondary agricultural education teachers in California.

Of the total 965 secondary ag teachers in California, 47% have been teaching less than five years, and 64% have been in the profession for less than ten years. Females make up 60% of the ag teaching profession, with the largest demographic group of ag teachers being females with under ten years of experience.  

On the other end of the spectrum, only 68 teachers have over 25 years of service, encompassing 7% of the total population.

Figure 1 –  Total number of California agriculture teachers is 965 individuals. The majority of the teachers are females comprising over half of the group. The largest subgroup of secondary agriculture teachers consisting of 40% of the total, is females with ten years or less experience.

How is this information useful? This data should be considered when developing professional development, messaging, committees, events and communications. Are we designing programs and professional development to meet the needs of our younger demographic? Are the largest demographic groups being represented across the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association’s leadership structure and committees? Knowing who we are will help us better serve our membership.

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/

Sacramento Scene, September 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Sacramento Scene

The Legislative session came to an end on Monday, August 31, in the early morning hours. Similar to the rest of 2020, the closing day in the capitol was surreal. In the California Senate, only one member of the Republican Caucus was on the floor for the last week. The rest of the Caucus was in quarantine after being exposed to a member with COVID-19. With the majority of the Senate Republicans operating, the pace of remote proceedings slowed significantly. Just like all virtual meetings, issues with muting, open mics and lag plagued the session. Tempers flared at numerous points in the session. The virtual participants were switched from open mics to moderated mics, requiring members to “virtually raise their hand” to have their mics unmuted from the Senate Chamber.  

Most of the bills that were passed the last evening of session centered around tenant eviction relief, police reform, COVID-19 regulations, exemptions from AB-5, flavored tobacco and wild fire bills.

The following California bills related to education that were processed the last month of the session:

  • AB-1384 – COVID Liability Limitations for School Districts – Bill failed to get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • AB-1460 – CSU Ethnic Studies Graduation requirement for the freshman class of 2021-22. Bill was signed into law.
  • AB-331 – High School Ethnic Studies graduation requirement for the class of 2030. Bill is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

The following are federal bills that relate to agricultural education in California:

  • H.R. 7745 – Protecting Fairs During COVID Act – $5 billion for fair funding for 2020 and 2021
  • H.R. 7883 – Agricultural Fairs Rescue Act – $500 million for fair funding for 2020

Click on the links below to support these federal bills to bring COVID relief to California Fairs and Expositions;

Need Help Finding your Representatives? Please use these resources listed below:

Cal Ag Plates “Everyone Give One”

Since its inception, the Cal Ag Plate program has generated over $1.5 million that goes directly to FFA student programs. These funds directly reduced the cost for students and increased access. These funds were used in 2019 and 2020 to fund the following initiatives:

  • AET Recordbooks = $95,285
  • Advanced Leadership Academy Conference (ALA) = $3,840
  • CalAgEd Website = $21,000
  • Greenhand Conference (GLC) = $4,275
  • FFA Promotions/State Conference posters, programs, videos = $33,500
  • Sacramento Leadership Experience = $27,955

CATA members made this program happen by giving away 7,500 plates five years ago. This program would not be a reality without us. The program needs CATA once again. The number of plates has fallen below the 7,500 threshold, and more plates need to be on the road to sustain the program. If each CATA member gave away one plate annually, we could maintain and grow the program indefinitely. Please help by clicking on this link to get the form filled out, signed, and mailed back to the FFA Center. California FFA will purchase the plate, and you will help FFA students statewide for years to come. It would benefit our students if we all had plates on our cars, trucks and trailers. Click on the download button below to fill out the form.

The recent California fires have impacted many of the students, teachers and communities of agriculture education. Our hearts and thoughts go out to those individuals dealing with yet another challenge in 2020. The California Teachers Association has set up a Disaster Relief Fund to assist members in the wildfires’ wake. Click Here for more information.

I have virtually attended dozens of Sectional CATA meetings over the last several weeks. I am continuously amazed by your resilience, professionalism, creativity and dedication to students. Ag students need their Ag teachers more than ever as they struggle for a reason to connect to school and stay motivated to learn. The additional hours to create engaging and exciting lessons in a two-dimensional world do pay off. In my cooperating teacher’s immortal words, “thank you for what you do for kids.”

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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/

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/

Sacramento Scene: Perspective and Gratitude

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Perspective 

Two months ago the outlook for California Agricultural Education looked desolate. Funding for all Career Technical Education (CTE) specialty programs faced a 50% cut. These cuts specifically targeted the Agricultural Incentive Grant (AIG), Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) and the K-12 Strong Work Force (K-12 SWF) grants. Universally, K-14 schools and universities all faced 10% reductions in general operating funds. The cancellation of the State FFA Leadership Conference threatened to financially bankrupt the organization. California FFA students were in jeopardy of losing all Career Development Events (CDE) and Leadership Development Events (LDE). Finally, the cancellation of the 101 California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA) conference symbolized the termination of the last semblance of normalcy in our profession for the year. 

As we approach mid-July, the landscape of agricultural education in California looks much different. The California FFA successfully completed all delegate business, elected six new state officers, virtually celebrated the accomplishments of the membership, and culminated the year’s events with a virtual celebration. Many CDE’s and LDE’s were successfully completed via distance. The California FFA Association’s budget closed out the fiscal year in the black. AIG, CTEIG, and K-12 SWF all have been restored in the budget signed by the Governor prior to the July 1 deadline.  Lastly, CATA successfully completed a virtual conference that included teacher recognition, organizational business, and professional development. 

We are fortunate in the way things played out, taking into consideration the current events of California and to a greater degree the world. Special thanks go out to all of you who helped navigate the spring of 2020. 

Gratitude

Thank you to the ag teachers of California that figured out how to engage students from a distance, keep  school farms functioning, put on CDE events, replaced the experience of cancelled livestock shows and sales, coach CDEs and LDEs, facilitate section, regional, and state CATA events, while simultaneously attending to the needs of your own families. 

Gratitude to the CATA Governing Board for meeting weekly to make the difficult decisions needed to move the profession forward. Thank you for always thinking of the best way to serve the teachers and students that you represent. 

The FFA Adult Board met twice a month to insure the financial stability of California FFA. Your guidance in the face of a potentially catastrophic financial situation was invaluable and truly appreciated. 

State Staff was asked to do more than ever this spring. Thank you for moving regional and sectional function to the digital world, supporting students and teachers and providing stability in an uncertain environment.

Big props to the FFA Center Staff for going above and beyond to meet the changing needs of the students and teachers that we serve. Processing refunds for numerous events, coordinating and shipping of awards all over California, and providing answers to the numerous questions that came into the Center. 

Also thank you to teacher educators, CATIP coordinators and mentors, FFA Foundation Board and staff, and everyone else that pulled together to get us through the spring. Your efforts and hard work was noticed and has paid off. 

Next fall could be more challenging than the spring, potential budget cuts loom, there is uncertainty in the structure of school schedules, possible limits on teacher and student travel, and the uncertainty of public health guidelines all make the new school year uncertain at best. What is known is that ag education will continue to adapt and innovate to meet the needs of our students, schools, communities, and state.

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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/

Sacramento Scene, May 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

The California State Assembly reconvened at the capitol on May 4. The Senate came back on May 11. It is anything but business as usual at the capitol. The building is closed for public tours and there is limited seating in hearings and committee meetings, because of social distancing. It is encouraged that all public comment on legislation is done via web portal or by phone. Legislators have been asked to dramatically pare back the number of bills that they are pursuing this year. Although committees are conducting hearings and bills are being debated, what everyone is waiting for is the May revision of the budget which is scheduled to be released on May 14. 

The outlook for that budget is desolate. In a report issued on May 7, the Department of Finance (DOF) predicts a decline in revenues of $9.7 billion for the 19/20 fiscal year and $32.2 billion during the 20/21 fiscal year. Adding to the decreased funding, the State has spent $13.1 billion on unanticipated COVID-19 related services this year. The combination of these events could result in a $54.3 billion deficit for the State. The reduction in General Funds will reduce Prop. 98 funds by $18.3 billion. (Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2020). Proposition 98, funds K-12 and Community Colleges in California. 

In a recent report, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LOA) has predicted two California budgetary scenarios resulting from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. The first scenario, dubbed somewhat optimistic shows a “U-shaped” recession and the second more pessimistic scenario is represented by a “L-shaped” recession. Both of these scenarios will result in multiple years of budget deficits in California. The LOA predicts that these shortfalls will persist until at least the 2023-24 budget cycle. In all, the U-shaped recession could cause deficit sums in excess of $64 billion and the L-shaped recession could cause deficits totaling upwards of $126 billion (Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2020).

Federal Funding 

At the beginning of May, the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education received approval for a grant from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The grant is part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This emergency relief is designed to help LEA’s deal with the financial impact of COVID-19. California will receive approximately $1.6 billion that will be administered by the California Department of Education. 

CATA 

The CATA Summer Conference scheduled for June 22-26, will be virtual. A live interactive business session will take place on June 25th. The focus of the conference will be professional development, awards and recognition, and conducting the business of the organization. Details for the conference will be published as they become available.

There will be a virtual idea show this year taking on-line submissions starting May 18. The deadline to submit ideas is June 18. More details will be forthcoming. Thanks to the crew from the North Coast for helping make this activity possible. 

CDEs and LDEs

A special thanks goes out to those coaches that have been meeting and working to determine if and how to proceed with 2020 Career Development Events. Your time and effort to determine how to best serve students is greatly appreciated. The CATA Governing Board supports all committee decisions and knows that they were made with the best interest of all stakeholders. Additional appreciation goes out to state staff and teachers for all their work in conducting LDE’s for our students.

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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/

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/