Setting the Record Straight About Agricultural Education
In the old-time western movies, it was common for a group of cowboys (or Indians) to be riding single file through a narrow canyon. The opposition cowboys (or Indians) would sneak up and ambush the last person in the procession. The cowboys or Indians in the front of the caravan did not know what was happening behind them, so, one by one, they were taken out, until the whole group had been decimated. We cannot allow this to happen to career and technical education (CTE). Not everyone supports CTE, and there are those who would like to see us bushwhacked.
All of the different divisions within ACTE should be supporting one another. This will only strengthen CTE and prevent us from being ambushed. The CTE divisions have many similarities, but there are some unique differences, which can lead to misunderstanding and could contribute to a lack of support for one another. If we understand the differences, this can lead to greater cooperation among the CTE divisions. It might help if we share some of the unique characteristics of agricultural education with those in other divisions of ACTE.
The Youth Organization
The FFA is considered to be an intra curricular part of the agricultural education program--an integral part of the curriculum and not a separate appendage. While we accept that other career and technical student organizations may want to function as extra curricular "clubs," the FFA doesn't fit into this mold for legal, educational and historical reasons.
The FFA was started in 1928 and was modeled after the Future Farmers of Virginia. However, those who organized and established the national FFA were employed by the federal government.
In part, the FFA was established as a laboratory in which to teach leadership skills. All vocational students in the early days of the Smith-Hughes Act were required to have "hands-on" learning experiences, either at home or in a school lab, so they could practice the vocational skills they were being taught. In agriculture, it was deemed important that students also develop leadership skills, so they could influence their local communities to adopt the new agricultural practices they were learning. Thus, the FFA was developed to be an integral part of the curriculum in order that agricultural students could practice the leadership skills they were being taught.
Two pieces of federal legislation further reinforced the integral nature of the FFA. The George-Barden Act of 1946 specifically stated that federal vocational funds could be used to pay the travel of agriculture teachers who were involved in FFA activities. This provision of the act clearly indicates that Congress viewed the FFA to be an integral part of the agricultural education program and thus eligible for federal funding. This view was reinforced when Congress passed Public Law 740 four years later granting a Federal Charter to the FFA. This law required federal education officials to provide national leadership to the FFA.
In many states agriculture teachers have extended contracts. …