Sacramento Scene, March 2020: Doing What Is Best For Kids

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Our sympathies go out to the families and communities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus. The response to this virus has resulted in postponements, cancellations and a general feeling of uncertainty. The list of school closures, travel bans, field day cancellations and counties placed on “shelter in place” grows by the hour. As unnerving and difficult as these events are, we need to be mindful of the health and well-being of our families, students and communities. Times like these require that we ag teachers do something that does not come naturally: placing a priority on ourselves. 

The current situation is very fluid and changes by the minute, the following actions that are being taken by CATA in response to current events:

  • Staff members at the FFA Center have the option of working from home, but may work in the office if they so choose. 
  • Monitoring of the daily press releases from Governor Newsom, the California Department of Public Health, Center for Disease Control as they relate to COVID-19.
  • Daily conversations (often much more frequent) with Mr. Parker and the state staff at the California Department of Education in regards to the current status of COVID-19 and how it is affecting both FFA members and agriculture teachers state wide. 
  • Daily communication with representatives from Mosaic, the management company that assists CA FFA with contracts for the State FFA Conference. 
  • Weekly conference calls with the FFA Adult Board updating them on the current financial status of FFA. From a fiscal perspective, we have been able to reallocate or obtain refunds for cancelled or postponed events to minimize potential losses. 
  • Frequent conversations and emails with Visit Anaheim, the event manager at the Anaheim Convention Center, event management at Knott’s Berry Farm and numerous hotels in the Anaheim area about existing contracts for Conference 2020.  
  • Regular communication with UC Davis, Chico State, Fresno State, Cal Poly Pomona, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo about upcoming FFA and CATA events on their campuses.  

The remainder of the semester and this coming summer will be unfamiliar and challenging for all of us. The only thing that we know for sure is that ag teachers are resilient problem solvers that always find a way. I was recently reminded of Bob Heuvel’s guiding principle in directing ag education for 30 plus years: “All of the difficult decisions in education are actually really easy…you decide by doing what is best for kids.” Sound advice in a time when we will all be facing countless decisions with little to no precedent. 

Be well, take care of yourselves and your families.

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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, February 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

On January 10, Governor Gavin Newsom submitted his 2019-2020 “California for All” proposed budget. In all the historic budget is $222.2 billion. Below is a recap of the portions of the budget that relate specifically to agricultural and career technical education. 

2019-2020 Proposition 98 Funding 

The Proposition 98 funding for K-12 schools and community colleges for 2020-21 is $84 billion, an all-time high. K-12 per-pupil spending is increasing from $17,508 in 2019-20 to $17,964 in 2020-21—the highest level ever. 

2019-2020 K-12 Career Technical Education Funding 

The current budget contains similar levels in funding for K-12 Career Technical Education (CTE) as last year’s budget. The Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) is included at $150 million. The K-12 Strong Workforce (SWF) Grant is also scheduled at $150 million, with an additional $14 million for staffing. Lastly, the Agricultural Incentive Grant is budgeted at the 2019-2020 level. 

Increased scrutiny is being placed on K-12 CTE funding by the legislature and the Board of Education. Two things have raised questions about how these funds are being allocated. Item number one is a change in the interpretation of the CTEIG’s funding formula which drastically reduced funding to smaller districts. The second item is complaints from the field with the application and distribution process of K-12 SWF funding. The CTE technical assistants that were supposed to be hired with money from K-12 SWF have yet to materialize.  With both CTE programs experiencing challenges the distribution and accountability, it will be interesting to see what types of changes are adopted moving forward.

Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond 

The Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020 will be voted on March 3rd. If approved by California voters, $15 billion will be allocated for facility construction at both secondary and post-secondary educational sites. The money is set to be allocated in the following ways: 

  • $6 billion for higher education, with $2 billion each for community colleges, California State University and the University of California.
  • $5.2 billion would support K-12 modernization projects, including $150 million to support lead in drinking water testing and remediation. 
  • $2.8 billion would support new K-12 construction projects. 
  • $500 million would support K-12 charter school construction projects.
  • $500 million would support K-12 career technical education projects. 

If approved by the voters in the Presidential Primary Election on March 3, this measure would introduce significant changes relative to the funding of school facilities including, increasing the bonding capacity. Changes would include increasing the assessed value of taxable property for elementary and high school districts from 1.25% to 2.0% and increasing the assessed value of taxable property from 2.5% to 4.0% for unified school districts and community college districts.

Higher Education

The Budget proposes total funding of $36 billion for higher education. The total reflects growth of approximately $111 million compared 2019-20. 

California Community Colleges (CCC’s) 

The Student-Centered Funding Formula was established in the 2018 Budget to replace the enrollment-based apportionments formula. Because the student centered formula is only in its second year of implementation, no drastic changes are budgeted for 2020-21.

The big change for the CCC is the $83.2 million increase to support apprenticeship programs. The money will be used for the creation of apprenticeship opportunities in priority and emerging industry sectors, to expand work-based learning, and cover the cost of increased apprenticeship instructional hours.  

California State University 

The Budget includes a five-percent increase in base resources, or $199 million in ongoing General Funds, to support the CSU’s operational costs, expand CSU enrollment, and work on the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025. The initiative seeks to increase four-year graduation rates by 40% by 2025. In addition, the Budget includes $6 million one-time funds to develop or expand degree and certificate programs via the extended and continuing education programs.

University of California

The UC system will also get a five-percent increase in base resources for campuses. The Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources were specifically identified in the budget to receive part of the increase. In addition to this ongoing funding increase, the Budget contained one-time funding to support degree and certificate completion programs.  

Moving Forward

CATA will follow the budget pieces that are specific and impactful to agricultural education at the secondary and post-secondary levels as they move through the system. Visits with both the Governor’s Office and the Department of Finance are ongoing to insure that our interests are being safeguarded.  

Perkins V

In the State of the Union Address President Trump announced funding for “Vocational and Technical” education in all schools. The federal budget was released on February 10th and contained cuts for education in general but contained good news for CTE.  Perkins is proposed to get nearly $900 million in additional funding. This proposal would include a $680 million increase for Perkins Basic State Grants, $83 million increase for competitive national grant programs, and an additional $100 million that could come from the H-1B visa program.

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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, January 2020

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Call to Action

California FFA will receive $21,000 less this year from the CalAgPlate program than it did last year. Overall, the program is down nearly $40,000 from its highest point in 2017. This year’s reduction in funding will result in less money going towards offsetting student costs for the State FFA Conference and the Sacramento Leadership Experience. These reductions will directly result in increased expenditures for students, which equates to reduced access for some.

Thank you, Nipomo FFA, Minarets FFA, and all the chapters across the state that have given away ten or more specialty agriculture license plates in the last year. A shout out goes out to Sam Meredith for visiting car dealerships in the Merced area to encourage them to put plates on newly purchased vehicles. To all the ag teachers who put CalAgPlates on their personal vehicles, trailers, and motorcycles (Fishman, talking to you), your efforts are greatly appreciated. Special thanks to the California Farm Bureau for putting plates on all their company vehicles.

It took registering 7,500 plates to get this program started. California FFA spent $273,000 to purchase plates to give away and ag teachers made that happen. Without the hard work of the CATA membership, this program would have never materialized. Because of those efforts, FFA students of California have received over $1.2 million to make all programs more affordable and accessible.

Numbers for the program are down and we are in jeopardy of losing it. The reality of the situation is that the only group that is going to solve the problem is the ag teachers of California. No other group or organization has the resources or resolve to give away the required 3,000 plates to continue the program. If every ag teacher in the state of California gave away one plate the problem would be solved. If every FFA chapter in the state of California gave away ten plates the situation would be rectified. This is a plea for the agricultural education community to make things happen once again.

A Jacket for Those in Need

During Giving Tuesday, because of the generous support of donors, California FFA Foundation and Blue Diamond Growers are proud to announce that Giving Tuesday donation efforts raised enough money for 890 FFA jackets, which is the equivalent of $66,750.

There is an opportunity for FFA students in need to be recommended to receive an FFA Jacket free of charge. Identify students from your chapter to receive a jacket. Every chapter is eligible for at least two free jackets. Jacket applications in excess of this will not be funded through the California FFA at this time. Applications in excess of available funds will await funding through the Give the Gift of Blue program.

Jacket redemption will be handled through the National FFA Give Blue program. Working with National FFA allowed us to secure a jacket and a tie or scarf at $75, which included shipping to your FFA Chapter, tax, etc. To redeem your chapter’s jacket, please follow the instructions below. Applications will be processed in batches.

1. Select a student to complete the application, or you can complete the application on their behalf.

2. Whoever completes the application needs to log into their National FFA account. Visit  https://giftofblue.ffa.org.

3. If the student is not already on your national roster, please email Jennifer Stockton at jstockton@californiaffa.org. She can assist in getting them added.

4. From there, follow the application directions. It is advised to have the following information ready and accessible when you start the process.

  • You will need to know the member’s state, chapter, and full name to select the student from the chapter roster. In Step 1, fill in the first and last name of the member you are nominating. Then select the state and chapter from the dropdown list. Next, look at the list of members and select  the student from the list using the students first 3 initials of his/her last name and the first initial of their first name. This will be used to verify the student is an official member of this chapter and provide the advisor reviewing the application with all the student’s information.
  • You will need to know what size standard jacket you want to order for your nominee and what style tie or scarf. To see the tie and scarf options please click on the link “Shop FFA” and click on “Official Dress.”
  • You will also need to write a “Nomination Statement” explaining why this member should receive a jacket from the Give the Gift of Blue program. This program was designed to gift jackets to members who will take full advantage of the opportunities offered in FFA. Funding is limited, so make sure your nominee fits this requirement.

Please be sure to complete the application process to redeem jackets for your chapter. Jackets will be shipped directly to your FFA chapter, via the address included on the application.

Thank you again for your role in making this program become a reality. If you have any questions, please email Matt Patton at mpatton@calagteachers.org.

Respectfully,

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Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn., mpatton@calagteachers.org, 209 744-1605

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

Sacramento Scene, December 2019

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Gratitude

The holiday season gives us time to reflect, rejuvenate and prepare for the hectic spring that awaits all agricultural educators. Several of you will accidentally set off the alarms at school sites as you continue to serve your students, FFA programs and your community over the break. Traditionally, agricultural teachers spend time on campus when other teachers are off campus, as they do one of two things; desperately trying to catch up or trying to get ahead of the upcoming spring tsunami of events, field days, CDE practices, project visits, fairs and the like. Take a couple of days over break to spend time with friends and family and reconnect with those loved ones that share you with your FFA families during the school year. Thank those that support you in your labor of love that is being an agricultural teacher. 

Many campuses will be closing this week after a whirlwind of final exams, culminating projects, make up work, student pleas, and a gluttony of cookies, candy, and caffeine. Before leaving campus, remember to thank those at your site that help to make your program a success. Gratitude to the following individuals goes a long way; administration, support staff, custodial, maintenance, security, FFA boosters and alumni groups, and anyone else that makes your job easier. Above all, give a special thanks to those individuals you spend ten, twelve, or more hours a day with, your fellow agricultural teachers. 

5 minutes before you go – Call to Action for the Perkins Plan

Please, take a couple of minutes to make public comment on the California State Plan for Perkins V. This document will govern how Perkins funding is allocated to CTE programs over the next several years. There are several parts of the document that are beneficial to agricultural education that need to be reinforced and a couple that could be modified to better serve students at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. You don’t need to comment on all aspects of the plan, pick the two that you are most passionate about and write an original paragraph directed at them specifically. Use the link below to make public comment about the plan. 

Items that are important to agricultural education and CATA, and included in the Draft California Perkins V State Plan are as follows:

  • Proper credentialing of CTE teachers – page 54
  • Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) and leadership development – page 65 & 66
  • Definition of an alternative to CTSO leadership development – page 65
  • Industry Involvement (required two industry advisory committee meetings) – page 54

Items that are concerning for agricultural education and CATA included in the Draft California Perkins V State Plan

  • Accountability for Results – The committee has chosen option (b) as California’s accountability measure. Option (b) measures the percentage of students completing dual enrollment classes. – page 131
  • The preferable option would be option (c) the percentage of students participated in work-based learning. – page 130

Click on the link below to submit comments to the CWPJAC related to the Draft California Perkins V State Plan. Look for the Give Feedback button on the linked page.

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Written Public Comment on the California Perkins V State Plan

Have a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2020. 

Respectfully,

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Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn., mpatton@calagteachers.org, 209 744-1605

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

Sacramento Scene, November 2019

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

“Newsom supporter” is what the comment posted to the California FFA newsletter stated. It was written in direct response to the “Sacramento Scene” article in the October Golden Slate. The comment is greatly appreciated as it caused a lot of reflection in terms of the purpose of the Sacramento Scene section of the Golden Slate and its potential audience. Moving the Golden Slate into the digital era has been an enlightening and educational experience. The release of the publication on a new platform means that more people read and have access to CATA’s communications. This medium also means that data and feedback is more accessible and more immediate than ever before. 

As a teacher I took great pride in not allowing my students to know my personal views on any topic when delivering Agriscience curriculum. My role was to facilitate the students discovery of the data and evidence for each subject area and then allow them to come to their own conclusions using the empirical method of discovery. Teaching students how to find and evaluate the credibility of information and then use that knowledge to problem solve and come to conclusions is one of the most important skills that they can learn. 

I take much the same approach as an advocate for agricultural education. I have a micro-focused view of politics, state agencies, government officials and policies that is centered on what is good for FFA students and agricultural teachers. My primary role is to be the voice of agricultural education in Sacramento. Additionally, I am the source of communication to the CATA membership about what is happening politically as it relates to California agricultural education. My course of action is guided by the CATA membership, mentors and friends of the FFA, and 18 years of ag teaching experience and knowing what worked for kids in the classroom. 

I reread October’s “Sacramento Scene” and found it to be an accurate account of the events relevant to agricultural education that transpired in the Capitol. But as I read it a second time, I was cognizant of the potential legislators, staffers, government employees, department of education personnel and people outside of the CATA that might also have access to it. Thank you for your comments and the reminder about the mission. We continue to welcome your feedback.

Sacramento Scene

October 13 was the last day that the California Governor had to sign bills from the 2019 legislative cycle. In all, more than 3,000 bills were debated by the Legislature, culminating in 870 being signed into law by Governor Newsom. Many of these new laws will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The following are a list of bills that are pertinent to Ag Education, which were tracked or actively engaged by CATA.

Later start of school day (SB 328) Senator PortantinoSigned into law

SB 328 will mandate that middle schools cannot begin the school day before 8 a.m. and high schools cannot begin earlier than  8:30 a.m. There is an exclusion in the bill for rural schools. 

School facilities bond (AB 48) Assemblyman O’DonnellChaptered by the Secretary of State 

AB 48 will put a $15 billion bond for new construction and renovation on the ballot for 2020 and 2022. The funds could be used for preschool, K-12 and higher education. Approximately $500 million dollars of these funds are eligible to be used for CTE infrastructure. 

Maternity leave for teachers (AB 500) Assemblywoman Gonzales – Vetoed by the Governor

AB 500 would have required school districts and community colleges to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers and classified employees. 

Charter School Regulation (AB 1505) Assemblyman O’DonnellSigned into law

AB 1505 makes various changes to the processes of charter school authorization, appeals and renewal. Important to CATA is a newly hired charter school teacher is required to have a certificate of clearance and the required credential for their teaching assignment.

CATA Update

Congratulations to the following individuals for being selected to receive their Honorary American Degrees at the 2019 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis: Carlos Lopez, Reedley; Rosemary Cummings, Nipomo; Dustin Sperling, San Joaquin Delta College; Lilly Pimentel, Hanford; Ralph Mosqueda, Hemet; Elizabeth Ammon, Susanville; Theresa Noga, Ferndale; and Sonia Falaschi, Los Banos. CATA hosted an Honorary American Degree dinner in Indianapolis for the California recipients. 

Elimination of the CalAgPlate Program 

Since the call to give away 3,000 license plates was given over a month ago, only 98 plates have been given away. The CalAgPlate program is in danger being eliminated. Currently the number of plates on the road has dropped below the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) required threshold. If we don’t get 3,000 more plates registered the program will be discontinued. To date California FFA has allocated $273,523 to the CalAgPlate Program and as a result has received $1,238,607 in proceeds. These funds are used annually to fund portions of the California FFA News, State FFA Conference, and all of the FFA leadership conferences across the state. If every chapter gave away 10 plates, we would easily reach our goal.  

Respectfully, 

Matt Patton, Executive Director, California Agricultural Teachers’ Assn.

P.O. Box 186
Galt, CA, California 95632


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

Sacramento Scene

By: Matt Patton, CATA Executive Director

Governor Newsom had an almost 75% Democratic Legislature and billions of surplus funds in the budget for his first year in office. With that, he worked on expanding public preschool, adding an additional year of free community college to full time students, as well as adding to the rainy day fund.  

The legislative session ended on September 13 in a wild and crazy finish that finally concluded at 3 a.m. The long night was due in part to a protestor throwing blood onto the Senate Floor during session — the antics in the Capitol never ceases to amaze. 

When the dust settled, a pile of bills sit on the Governor’s desk waiting for a signature or veto. The following is a list of bills that are pertinent to education that are being tracked by CATA.

Later start of school day (SB 328) Senator Portantino 

SB 328 would mandate that middle schools could not begin the school day before 8 a.m. and high schools could not begin earlier than 8:30 a.m. There is an exclusion in the bill for rural schools. 

School facilities bond (AB 48) Assemblyman O’Donnell 

If signed, AB 48 would put a $15 billion bond for new construction and renovation on the ballot for 2020 and 2022. The funds could be used for preschool, K-12 and higher education. Some of these funds are eligible to be used for CTE infrastructure. 

Maternity leave for teachers (AB 500) Assemblywoman Gonzales

AB 500 would require school districts and community colleges to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers and classified employees. 

Charter School Regulation (AB 1505) Assemblyman O’Donnell 

AB 1505 makes various changes to the processes of charter school authorization, appeals, and renewal. Important to CATA is that if signed by the Governor, newly hired charter school teachers must have a certificate of clearance and the required credential for their teaching assignment.

January Budget

The entire legislative process begins again with specific attention moving to the drafting of the January Budget. CATA’s budget priorities will be the inclusion and expansion of the Ag Incentive Grant, Career Technical Incentive Grant, and K-12 Strong Work Force funding. 

Formation of the New California State CTE Plan 

California is currently drafting a new Perkins usage plan in addition to a new State Plan for Career Technical Education (CTE). This process is being monitored to insure that crucial items like industry involvement, Career Technical Student Organizations, and proper credentialing of teachers is included in the criteria used to distribute funds for CTE. There will be a time for public comment on the plan in November and a call to action will go to the CATA membership to reinforce our priorities during that time. All public comments have to be addressed in writing to the committee writing the plan. This comment period will insure that our priorities are addressed. 

CATA Update

The Golden Slate is going digital and will be delivered right to your email inbox on a monthly basis, just like this issue. This will be an evolving process and we welcome feedback on the new format. 

Fall is upon us and sectional meetings are wrapping up and regional meetings have begun and will continue through November. I look forward to meeting and talking with each of you at regional meetings as we discuss the business of our organization. The best part of my job is talking to Ag teachers, so please feel free to call with questions or just for an update. 

FFA Association 

The California Association FFA lawsuit with the City of Fresno and SMG entertainment has finally been settled. The lawsuit that began six years ago and was the catalyst for the relocation of the California State FFA Leadership Conference has finally concluded. The insurance company that represented California FFA at the time of the accident has written a check for $337,000 to the city and SMG in exchange for being dismissed from further litigation. 

Elimination of the CalAgPlate Program 

The CalAgPlate program is in danger of being eliminated. Currently the number of plates on the road has dropped below the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) required threshold. We have approximately one calendar year to get 3,000 more plates registered or the program will be discontinued. To date, CAFFA has allocated $273,523 to the CalAgPlate Program and as a result has received $1,238,607 in proceeds. These funds are used annually to fund portions of the California FFA News, State FFA Leadership Convention, and all of the FFA leadership conferences across the state.  

In the beginning, the vast majority of the 7,500 plates needed to start the program were given away by the Ag teachers and FFA chapters. We are going to have to have to do it again. Each chapter is being asked to give away 10 plates to insure the continued funding of the program. Click the following link to print out a form, fill in the highlighted blanks and mail the form to P.O. Box 186, Galt, California 95632. The first 3,000 forms received will get a free CalAgPlate. 

Respectfully, 

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