FFA and Career Technical Education programs at risk with proposed State budget

Once again, Governor Brown has placed Career Technical Education (CTE) programs such as the Future Farmers of America (FFA) on the chopping block in his updated state budget proposal, released last Thursday.

“The Governor’s budget proposal presented in January contained a provision for reallocating what we know as SB 1070 monies in a way that will have a devastating impact on Career Technical Education programs, including the complete defunding of Career Technical Student Organizations like FFA,” said Jim Aschwanden, Executive Director of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association. “We were hopeful that the administration would amend this proposal in the May revise of the budget, but that did not happen.”

In 2014, Brown made a similar proposal of eliminating the Agricultural Education Incentive Grant but was overwhelmed with an outpouring of disapproval from FFA members, parents, educators and community members. This year, with budget trimming and AB 2033 suspended at the State Senate, CTE program funding is once again at risk.

“We are extremely disappointed that Governor Brown has proposed eliminating Career Technical Student Organization funding in California,” said Aschwanden. “The loss of these components of Career Technical Education will have a devastating effect on programs and teachers statewide. CTE programs remain vitally important to the economic well-being of our state, and this proposal eliminates highly effective programs that have proven their worth over time. We think this is a terrible mistake.”

In 2014, members of the California State Assembly introduced AB 2033 to add text to current law, mandating funding for the Agricultural Career Technical Education Incentive Program through a $4.1 million dollar grant from the State Department of Education. The bill passed with a majority vote in the Assembly, but failed a State Senate vote due to verbiage in the Local Control Funding Formula, or Local Control Accountability Plan.

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee report for AB 2033, “The bill creates a creates a continuous appropriation for a particular state categorical program, removing its funding determination from the annual Budget process. Earmarking $4.1 million in funds for the Agricultural Career Technical Education Incentive Program creates cost pressure on future Prop 98 funds that could otherwise be used for other educational purposes. This bill also requires a participating school district to ‘demonstrate’ to the Superintendent of Public Instruction ‘how the expenditure of grant funds will be consistent with its LCAP.’ Career technical education programs are already required to be addressed in a school district’s LCAP, so the requirement to demonstrate consistency is unlikely to result in costs to the school district.”

Meanwhile, SB 1070 was passed in 2012, which established the Career Technical Education Pathways Program until June 30, 2015. The bill required the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to assist economic and workforce regional development centers and consortia, community colleges, middle schools, high schools, and regional occupational centers and programs to improve linkages and career technical education pathways between high schools and community colleges to accomplish specified objectives. This assistance would be required to be provided in the form of contracts and competitive grants, administered jointly by the chancellor and the Superintendent for programs and initiatives, that demonstrate a plan for close collaboration among regional institutions and entities to jointly accomplish specified goals.

With Brown’s most recent proposed 2017-18 budget, $48 million dollars in available CTE funds will go entirely to the Community College System, eliminating $15 million in funding that used to flow to the California Department of Education for Partnership Academies, University of California Curriculum Institute, Career Technical student organizations, and other uses.

“This proposal will completely eliminate funding for these programs since there are no other funds available to support these activities,” said Aschwanden.

With Brown’s proposal, the action would specifically eliminate $250,000 that supports the California Future Farmers of America for state officer travel, leadership conferences, State FFA convention, and more.

“This would have a devastating effect on FFA’s ability to provide leadership conferences like Greenhand Conference, Made for Excellence, COLCs, etc. as well as the ability to conduct chapter visits and other leadership development activities for students,” said Aschwanden.

Aschwanden also said that the budget would eliminate funding for Partnership Academies, which have proven to be highly effective models for engaging students in focused learning groups, centered around themes and majors of interest. It would also eliminate funding for the University of California Curriculum Institute, which assists Career Technical Education courses and programs in gaining UC/CSU recognition for admission purposes in meeting a-g course requirements.

“Over half of the Ag Education courses in California have gained recognition due to the work of the UCCI, including the three-course sequence in Ag Science that is now recognized for meeting Next Generation Science Standards,” said Aschwanden. “Without funding, this effort will cease.”

Additionally, it would eliminate Professional Development Funds for CTE instructors, including Ag Education.

“In the case of Ag Education, funds that currently support Road Shows, New Professionals Institute, Mentoring Conference, and other professional development activities would be eliminated,” said Aschwanden.

Aschwanden expressed that it is imperative that community members, students, parents, administrators, advisory committee members, and any other supporters of Ag Education contact their local legislators immediately to express their concerns regarding this proposal.

“Time is of the essence since the budget process is moving forward rapidly,” said Aschwanden. “The Education Finance subcommittees will begin voting on these proposals on June 23, so your legislators need to hear from you now. Ask them to reach out to their peers on the Education Finance subcommittees to reject the Governor’s proposal.”

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Lloyd Green Jr. is the Owner and Publisher of the Williams Pioneer Review. He is dedicated in publishing the news and informing the community of Colusa County. Lloyd has been with the publication since 2008, and purchased the business in 2010. Under his ownership the newspaper has grown significantly in subscriptions, publishes weekly, and obtained the title of Newspaper of General Circulation by the Superior Court of Colusa County in Sept. 2007. Lloyd is also the director of advertising, classified manager, legal notice clerk, and circulation manager. To contact Lloyd, email him at lloyd@colusacountynews.net or call (530) 458-4141 ext. 100.