Saturday, April 10, 2021

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Impact of Governor Brown’s Proposal to Eliminate Agricultural Education and the FFA Programs in our Schools

Since the inception of current Agricultural Incentive Grant funding, innovative programs and coursework have been developed that are attracting record numbers of students into Agricultural Education programs throughout the state. These programs currently send more students onto post-secondary colleges and training institutions, where they graduate with degrees in larger numbers and in shorter time frames than their peers in general academic programs.

This proposal to eliminate the Agricultural Education Incentive Grant threatens a nation-ally-recognized delivery model in Agricultural Education that has over 1330 courses approved for admission recognition by the UC and CSU systems, and which provides essential Agricultural Education and leadership training experiences for students interested in careers in Agriculture – a vitally important component of California’s economy.

Specifically, this proposal would:

Remove targeted incentive funding from high schools currently offering Agricultural Education programs and redistribute those funds across the board to all schools in California with total discretion for use at the local level. Schools currently offering Agricultural Education programs would no longer receive those funds, which would be folded into the Local Control Funding Formula base grant for distribution to all schools. The net impact of adding these monies to the LCFF base would amount to less than 66 cents per student per year.

Remove any incentive for districts to continue to offer Agricultural Education programs, since these courses and programs are not part of the state-mandated graduation coursework, and are not part of the computation of current school accountability measures.

Virtually eliminate the capacity of these programs to carry on programs and activities involving the Future Farmers of America student organization, which currently has over 74,000 members in over 300 local chapters throughout California.

Eliminate programmatic funding for other Career Technical Education programs such as Specialized Secondary Programs and Regional Occupational Programs, which also make up an important component of Agricultural Education programs statewide.

Threaten California’s economic and agricultural future while producing virtually no benefit to existing educational funding streams.

Important Information Regarding Agricultural Education:

Enrollment in Agricultural Education has increased from 21,000 students in the mid 1980’s to over 74,000 students today – while enrollment in other CTE sec-tors has declined during that same time.

Of the students enrolled in Agricultural Education today in California, 51% are Hispanic, while 35% are White.

There are 1,337 Ag Education courses approved by UC/CSU for meeting the admission requirements of those universities, representing 45% of Ag courses offered statewide.

Ag Education programs have compiled graduate follow-up data for their graduating seniors since 1984. If students complete a minimum series of 3 courses in Ag Education during their high school tenure, they enter postsecondary education at a 76% level, which is substantially higher than the general high school population.

Several studies have demonstrated that students nationwide that complete a series of 3 CTE courses graduate from high school in higher numbers, go on to postsecondary education in higher numbers, graduate from college in greater numbers, and complete their degrees in less time than their peers who do not take CTE coursework.

The California Future Farmers of America student organization is a nationally-recognized model of excellence for developing leadership, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in high school-age youth. Nearly 5,000 students attend the State FFA Leadership Conference held annually in Fresno, making it the largest student organization conference in California and the largest convention gathering in the city of Fresno.

Given that California is the leading agricultural state in the Unites States and a major component of our states’ economic well-being, it is important that strong and vibrant Agricultural Education programs exist within our schools to attract talented and motivated people to seek careers in this vital industry. Agricultural Education programs have produced many leaders at the State, National, and In-ternational levels who credit those programs with motivating them and developing their leadership potential.

Agricultural Education programs combine rigorous academic instruction with learn-by-doing strategies – resulting in greater understanding and relevance to students. In an era that far too often emphasizes rote memorization and standard-ized testing strategies, Ag Education offers a unique and compelling opportunity for students to develop both their academic and personal life skills.

Write your state Representatives regarding this important matter. The Williams Pioneer Review, has a letter template available at: http://s681654294.onlinehome.us/ag-education-in-jeopardy/

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