Agriculture education funding nearly cropped | Sonoma Index-Tribune

Call it a barn raising to save ag education.

That’s one way to describe the call to arms waged last week when a draft of Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposed cutting $15 million in funding for programs in Career Technical Education and the Future Farmers of America programs throughout California.

Sonoma Valley High School agriculture teacher Dan Aschwanden was among those sounding an alarm when high schools around the state, including SVHS, learned they’d be losing a large portion of their FFA and CTE funding next year.

Gov. Brown’s 2017-18 budget directed those funds instead to the Community College Chancellor’s Office to supplement other workforce development funds.

It wasn’t long before the pitchforks were out – at least in the form of a tersely worded May 15 press release from the California Agricultural Teachers Association opposing the cuts.

“The loss of these components of Career Technical Education will have a devastating effect on programs and teachers statewide,” said CATA director Jim Aschwanden in the statement. “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.”

Aschwanden decried the move as “a terrible mistake.”

The California Agricultural Teachers’ Association represents more than 850 instructors in agricultural education from middle school through university levels.

Jim Aschwanden also happens to be the father of Dan Aschwanden – so Sonoma Valley High was plugged in as the Governor dealt with the blowback when his proposed budget became public.

After a barrage of denunciations from the Aschwandens and other ag educators, Gov. Brown’s office announced May 18 that CTE and FFA funding for the next year had been reinstated.

Karen Ross, of the state Department of Food and Agriculture, said “Governor Brown remains committed to ongoing funding for…

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