Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 15, 2013: Who is Charles Zogby? – Here’s a vintage 2002 piece from the Inky….now that 11 years have passed, was he on the right track?

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 3000 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, legislative and congressional staffers, Governor's staff, PTO/PTA officers, parent advocates, teacher leaders, education professors, members of the press and a broad array of P-16 regulatory agencies, professional associations and education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg
The Keystone State Education Coalition is pleased to be listed among the friends and allies of The Network for Public Education.  Are you a member?

Charter School: A school that receives public funds without the inconvenience of accountability to the taxpayers who provide those funds.
There are about 150 members of the press receiving these daily Education Policy Roundups – how many of you have ever attended and covered a charter school board meeting?

Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for August 15, 2013:
Who is Charles Zogby? – Here’s a vintage 2002 piece from the Inky….now that 11 years have passed, was he on the right track?

The Color Purple
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children August 6, 2013 4:08 PM | Posted By : PPC
Political pundits love to play up the ideological differences between so-called “red” states and “blue” ones. But when it comes to giving children a great start in life, the nation is increasingly “purple,” with political leaders in both parties showing strong support for investments in early childhood education.  The broad, bipartisan support for these investments is due to the fact they pay off in so many ways.  The latest research from Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman indicates the education and support a child receives in the earliest years - from birth to age 5 - have a huge impact on his or her ability to succeed in K-12, in college and later in life. Heckman’s research also has shown that early education programs can help prevent students from having developmental delays later in school, decrease the dropout rate and reduce the likelihood that a child will fall into the criminal justice system - all of which save state taxpayers money, and help more children grow into productive, creative adults.

(to consider costs of special education)
Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:00 AM     
Board Room  - Allentown School District Central Administration Bldg.
31 S. Penn Street Allentown, PA

Pennsylvania charter schools going directly to Corbett for $150 million funding increase
Charter schools asking Corbett administration to change funding formula in their favor.
By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 10:59 p.m. EDT, August 14, 2013
HARRISBURG — For years, local school district officials have tried to get state lawmakers to pass laws reducing the amount of tax dollars paid to charter schools.
Now charter schools — which since 1997 have evolved from independent, isolated institutions into a united, powerful political force — are fighting back. They have launched a coordinated effort to gain up to $150 million annually in additional funding from local school districts in the Lehigh Valley and across the state.
In hopes of doing it, charter schools are bypassing the House, Senate and state Board of Education and going right to Gov. Tom Corbett's administration in a bid to change the funding formula in their favor.  Over the past 15 months, charter schools, with the help of one law firm, have filed 231 identical legal appeals with the state Department of Education challenging the department's funding formula.

Countdown, Day 26: Hite wants SRC to suspend school code, including rehiring based on seniority
Notebook by Dale Mezzacappa on Aug 14 2013 Posted in Countdown to calamity?
Still lacking sufficient funds to open fully-staffed schools on Sept. 9, Superintendent William Hite will ask the School Reform Commission to suspend parts of the state school code at a special meeting Thursday.  Among other changes, the District is seeking to bypass seniority rules as it restores positions and calls back laid off workers. It also wants the ability to put at least a temporary halt on automatic pay increases based on longevity -- called "steps"-- for professional staff.  "We are in an untenable position," said Superintendent William Hite in an interview Wednesday afternoon. The requested changes, he said, will give the District more flexibility "to grapple with a budget that does not adequately support schools."
Other requested changes would allow the District to hire nurses, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, that are not specifically certified as school nurses.

SPECIAL SRC Meeting Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 3:00pm
The School Reform Commission of the School District of Philadelphia will hold a special meeting to consider suspension of selected requirements of the Public School Code and applicable Regulations on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 3:00pm in the Second Floor Auditorium, Education Center, 440 N. Broad Street. 
To register to speak, please call 215-400-4180 before 4:30pm on Wednesday, August 14, 2013.
Tune in to watch the meeting live on Comcast Channel 52, Verizon Fios Channel 20, or streaming online.

“Corbett's budget secretary, Charles Zogby, said the money would not be available until the teachers' union signs a contract that includes substantial "fiscal savings and academic reforms."
Corbett rejects plea on Phila. school funding
Troy Graham and Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writers LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 1:08 AM POSTED: Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 12:45 PM Gov. Corbett emphatically rejected on Tuesday a request to release $45 million in state funds, the latest twist in the ongoing battle to resolve the Philadelphia School District's financial crisis.

Who is Charles Zogby? – Here’s a vintage 2002 piece from the Inky….now that 11 years have passed, was he on the right track?
“Despite the criticism, Zogby was steadfast that "real reform" in schools could not occur unless privatization shook up what he considered to be a self-interested, complacent coalition of bureaucrats and unions that were running urban schools into the ground.
"We were guided by what was right for kids," Zogby said. "I think there is a recognition of that, and I think with the passage of time people will realize we are on the right track."
Pa.'s education secretary resigns; Charles Zogby, who engineered the state takeover of Phila. schools, is joining a Virginia company.
By Ovetta Wiggins and Dale Mezzacappa INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
POSTED: December 18, 2002
Pennsylvania Education Secretary Charles Zogby, who engineered the state takeover of the Philadelphia School District, created one of the nation's first cyber charter schools, and implemented controversial standards for teachers and students, resigned yesterday to join a for-profit online education company.
Zogby, often criticized for his efforts to change education, many of which centered on privatization, ends an eight-year tenure with the administrations of Gov. Schweiker and former Gov. Tom Ridge. He will become a senior vice president of education and policy at K12, a Virginia-based company. He will leave his post Jan. 3.

Seeking private funds for public schools becomes 'unfortunate trend'
WHYY Newsworks By Kevin McCorry, @byKevinMcCorry August 14, 2013
Facing a $304 million budget gap, Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite has asked for an assurance by Friday that the district will receive an additional $50 million.
If this money comes through, he's said schools will open on time, but staffing levels will be only "functional."

Who you gonna call? Union busters
Philly daily News Attytood Blog by Will Bunch  Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 9:53 PM
Just be honest, Dr. Hite. Isn't this the moment the Broad Foundation trained you for, the moment that Gov. Corbett's appointees on the School Reform Commission brought you to Philadelphia break the teacher's union. Mission almost accomplished. At least we now know that Corbett actually listens to somebody: His pollsters.

Group Eyes Lawsuit To Force Pa. To Release Funding For Phila. Schools
CBS By Cherri Gregg August 14, 2013
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A local civil rights group is considering whether to file a federal lawsuit to force the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to release enough funding to ensure that Philadelphia’s cash-strapped public schoolsopen this year.
The nonprofit group says it has precedent that shows it could work.
When the Chester Upland School District announced in January 2012 that it didn’t have enough money to stay open for the rest of the year (see related story), the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the state branch of the NAACP filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s Department of Education.

Editorial: Fixing Pa. property tax mess should be top priority
Delco Times Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
No one needs to convince Frank DiBernardino that Pennsylvania has a tax problem. He’s been railing about it for years.  He’s not alone. And the din is getting louder.
DiBernardino is a member of the Delaware County Taxpayers Coalition, a group that for years has been sounding the alarm that Pennsylvanians are unfairly taxed in a system that targets homeowners and is taking an increasing toll on senior citizens and those on fixed incomes.
Of course, the bane of DiBernardino’s existence is the property tax, the basic building block of education funding in Pennsylvania.

PA School Property Tax Elimination Bill Introduced to Legislature
90.5 WESA Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station By KATIE BLACKLEY August 14, 2013
After a year of review, Pennsylvania House Representative Jim Cox reintroduced House Bill 76 outlining the benefits of eliminating the school property tax in the Commonwealth. With 91 co-sponsors in the House and 22 in the Senate, Rep. Cox is confident the bill will appeal to both legislators and tax-payers. Matthew Knittel, director of theIndependent Fiscal Office, has reviewed versions of the bill and says from a revenue perspective, the bill could be made to work in certain parts of the state.  Rep. Cox says the bill will save taxpayers money while still providing enough revenue to the state. He proposed the legislation after receiving complaints from constituents.

Robolancers August 13, 2013 · by Daniel U.
Dear Philadelphia,
The RoboLancers need your help.
There are many stories floating around about how the School District budget problems are going to affect the schools, the students, the community, and the teachers.  But there are personal stories in there as well.  Stories about good teachers losing their jobs, about students being pushed from a school they love during their senior year, about seniors scared about the college admission process without guidance counselors, about teachers getting pushed into situations they are not best qualified for.  Then there is our story.
This story is about how a robotics team of 80 students that has won multiple awards for their outreach, teaching Philadelphia students about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), that has traveled to international competitions, that raised over $30,000 in one week for a championship in St. Louis, that runs the popular Philly Robotics Expo during Philly Tech Week, and that sends 90% of its seniors on to engineering undergraduate programs, may not exist this year.
The reason this team may not exist is directly due to the ineffectiveness of the School District of Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission and Governor Corbett.  That ineffectiveness has led to the following actions and proposals that is forcing me to consider shutting down our team:

Greensburg Salem administrator salaries under investigation
TribLive By Bob Stiles Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013 , 12:01 a.m.
The agency overseeing the state's public school pension fund has begun a probe of findings that the base salaries of six administrators in the Greensburg Salem School District were inflated with unused sick days or health care benefits to bump up their retirement checks.
Evelyn Tatkovski, spokesman for the Public School Employees' Retirement System, confirmed Wednesday the agency has begun a review of whether accurate earnings were reported for the administrators.  The agency's move stems from a highly critical audit of the school district by the state Auditor General's Office.
“You may remember the name Harambee. It’s the same school which by night would turn its cafeteria into an illegal bar called Damani.”
Charter School CEO Steals Heaps of Cash from Harambee Charter School The Philly Post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood 8/14/13
Masai Skief, CEO of Harambee Institute of Sciences and Technology Charter School in Overbrook, has pleaded guilty to stealing $88,000 from the school his father founded in the mid-90s.

NSBA and Kennedy Center seeking school boards for arts education award
School Board News Today by Joetta Sack-Min|August 14th, 2013
Nominations are now open for the annual arts education award for school boards given by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network (KCAAN). The award, which comes with a $10,000 check, honors a school board that has provided high-quality arts education in its school district.  The KCAAN and NSBA Award recognizes districts that have included all four major artistic disciplines—visual arts, music, theater, and dance—in their programs.  The program accepts only one nomination per U.S. state, which must be coordinated with the local state school boards association, state alliance for arts education, or both organizations jointly. 

In Testing, a Principal Leans on Her Experience
New York Times By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: August 13, 2013 101 Comments
Since 2000, Anna Allanbrook has been the principal of Public School 146 in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, one of the highest achieving elementary schools in the city. It is so popular that each year she holds an admissions lottery — last spring, 1,538 children applied for 175 slots.
Anna Allanbrook, the 58-year-old principal of P.S. 146, says,  “By my age, my position is relatively safe; I feel like I’ve learned a lot and should express what younger principals and teachers are too scared to say.”
As principal, it is her job to make sure children learn (94.9 percent of the fourth graders were proficient on the 2012 state math test); hire talented teachers (Antoinette Byam, for one, has been awarded grants to study in Ghana, Peru and Mexico and used the research to develop a fifth-grade curriculum on Mayan culture); create an environment where good teachers thrive (the turnover rate is 4 percent ); and encourage families to be involved (she holds weekly breakfasts with parents.)  She also believes it is her job is to shield students, teachers and parents from the state’s ever-expanding standardized testing system and to question its reliability publicly. “At my age, I’ve seen so many education fads come and go,” she says. “It gives me the confidence to trust what we’re doing here.”

Who is funding efforts to completely remove accountability to taxpayers by creating a statewide charter authorizing commission in Georgia?  You know their names - roundup the usual suspects…..
Follow the money: Chart(er)ing A New Course
National Institute on Money in State Politics Posted on August 8, 2013 by Anne Sherwood
Last November, Georgia voters passed Constitutional Amendment 1, which created a statewide charter school commission that can override the decisions of local school boards. Passage of this amendment follows a national trendfor more alternatives to public schools in the states.
Four committees raised nearly $2.5 million to promote passage of Georgia’s amendment, which was 90 percent of all the money raised around the measure. Alice Walton’s $600,000 donation (of Wal-Mart family fame) made her the top contributor to the leading committee, Families for Better Public Schools. The second-highest contributor to that committee was a private education company, K12 Inc., with $300,000. The committee’s third-highest contributor, with $256,000, wasStudentsFirst, a 501(c)4 organization led by Michelle Rhee, the former Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools.
The American Federation for Children gave $75,000 to its American Federation for Children ballot committee (in fact, it was the committee’s only donor). Of note, K12 Inc. and StudentsFirst were the fourth- and sixth-largest contributors overall to 2012 state campaigns in Georgia, contributing $305,500 and $302,450, respectively.  The only contributor to another supporting committee, GA Public School Families

Traditional Public Schools Respond to Charter Competition
The Center for Public Education by Christine Duchouquette August 14, 2013
In a free market, economic theory states that competition is the driving force of productivity, supply and demand, and the panacea for monopolistic control.  Education reformers have long sought to build a public  education system that closely resembles the free market with its uninhibited choices, limited government involvement, and private goods.
In a recent Education Next article entitled “Competition with Charters Motivates Districts,” the pro-charter authors explain the impact of charter schools on traditional public schools’ enrollment, revenue, and student achievement.  The article opens with a typical charter advocate’s selling point: introducing charter schools into the mix of public education creates competition (for scarce funding resources, particularly) that motivates low-performing districts to improve and “reclaim” the students (read: funding) that are rightfully theirs.

“National, state, and local opinion-makers in the business of school reform know that what matters is not evidence, not research studies, not past experiences with similar reforms–what matters is the appearance of success. Success is 45 states adopting standards, national tests taken by millions of students, and public acceptance of Common Core.”
Why Common Core Standards Will Succeed
Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice AUGUST 15, 2013 · 1:00 AM
Even though there is little evidence that state standards have increased student academic achievement since the 1980s, the District of Columbia and 45 states have embraced the Common Core–(see here and here).
Even though there is little evidence that countries with national standards do not necessarily score higher on international tests than nations without national standards, many states have already aligned their standards to textbooks, lessons, and tests– (see here and here).

“They don’t quibble with Gov. Gary Herbert’s goal of having 90 percent of Utah’s third-graders reading proficiently by 2020, but say it’ll take more, not less, money to get there — $100 million or more.”
Utah lawmakers raise reading stakes for elementary schools
Education » Districts say boosting third-graders’ skills will require new tactics, money.
By Ray Parker The Salt Lake Tribune First Published Aug 10 2013
Utah lawmakers have a tough-love message for elementary schools: Get more third-graders reading at grade level or lose funding.  If for two consecutive years a school district fails to make strides toward the state’s goal of having 90 percent of third-graders reading proficiently, then the district will lose money, under a new rule approved last week by the state Office of Education.

“Ravitch presents Reign of Error as an overture to dialogue with opponents, but her subtitle suggests otherwise: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. Her tour of the research is littered with bumper-sticker slogans—she indicts, for example, the “Walmartization of American education”—likely to put off the unconverted. The book reads like a campaign manual against “corporate reformers.” The first half challenges the claims of their movement; the second offers Ravitch’s alternative agenda. Her prescriptions include universal pre-K, smaller class sizes, better teacher training, and more measures to reduce poverty and school segregation.”
The Architect of School Reform Who Turned Against It
Diane Ravitch's second revolution
The Atlantic by SARAH MOSLE AUG 14 2013, 8:20 PM ET
The survival of the school-reform movement, as it’s known to champions and detractors alike, is no longer assured. Even a couple years ago, few would have predicted this turn of events for a crusade that began with the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, gathered momentum as charter schools and Teach for America took off in the 1990s, and surged into the spotlight with No Child Left Behind in 2001. As a schoolteacher, I know I didn’t anticipate this altered landscape. If one person can be credited—or blamed—for the reform movement’s sudden vulnerability, it’s a fiercely articulate historian, now in her 70s, named Diane Ravitch.
That Ravitch helped conceive the movement she now condemns makes her current role even more unexpected. Almost four decades ago, Ravitch emerged as a preeminent chronicler of, as she put it, “the rise and fall of grand ideas” in American education. The author of 11 books, including Reign of Error (out this month), she has traced the past century’s successive battles over how best to deliver a quality education—and to whom.

“Minister Piron told Ynet: "The message is we've gone crazy, confused. This thing turned into something that drives us from learning to measuring."
Israeli Education minister drops standardized tests
National standardized tests harm schools, create 'league table' culture, ministry says in statement. 'We veered from learning to measuring,' Minister Piron claims
Ynet news by Shahar Chai Published:     08.12.13, 18:14 / Israel News
Education Minister Shai Piron announced the cancellation of national standardized tests (NST) in the upcoming school year.  The reason given for the decision was that the release of the test results to the public exerted undue pressure on students, raised concerns as to the tests' integrity and harmed teachers' motivation.
"The standardized tests are important and valuable evaluation tools, which we should continue to use in the future, however they cannot be carried on with in their present format," said Minister Piron.  "The current form of the tests harms schools, teachers and students," he added.

Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Public hearing on Keystone Exams
Monday, August 26, 2013, 9:30 AM, Tredyffrin-Easttown School District
105 W. Walker Rd. Wayne, PA

Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Public hearing on Common Core
Thursday, August 29, 2013, 9:30 AM Capitol, Hearing Room 1, North Office Bldg.

Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Philly at the Main Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on September 17 at 7:30 pm..
Diane Ravitch | Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools
When: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:30PM 
Central Library
Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students
Ticket and Subscription Packages 
Tickets on sale here at 10:00 a.m. on August 23, 2013

Yinzers - Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking in Pittsburgh on September 16th at 6:00 pm at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill. 
The lecture is being hosted by Great Public Schools (GPS) Pittsburgh, which is a new coalition of community, faith, and labor organizations consisting of Action United, One Pittsburgh, PA Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and Yinzercation.  Co-sponsors for the event include the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, the PA State Education Association, Temple Sinai, and First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh Social Justice Endowment.  More details to come.

Join the National School Boards Action Center Friends of Public Education
Participate in a voluntary network to urge your U.S. Representatives and Senators to support federal legislation on Capitol Hill that is critical to providing high quality education to America’s schoolchildren

PILCOP 2013 Symposium on Equality: Privatization
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia Thursday, September 12, 2013
This year’s day-long Symposium will be held on Thursday, September 12th and will explore the debate over privatizing government services such as healthcare, land management and education.  The Symposium on Equality annually convenes thought leaders and outstanding advocates  to engage in meaningful discussion and exploration of the day’s most pressing civil rights and social issues. This year’s event will foster conversation, collaboration and exploration of the debate over privatizing government services such as healthcare, land management and education.

PILCOP Know Your Child’s Rights! 2013-2014 Special Education Seminars
Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia July 9, 2013
The Law Center’s year-long Know Your Child’s Rights! seminar series on special education law continues in 2013-2014 with day and evening trainings focused on securing special education rights and services.  These seminars are intended for parents, special education advocates, educators, attorneys, and others who are in a position to help children with disabilities receive an appropriate education. Every session focuses on a different legal topic, service or disability and is co-led by a Law Center staff attorney and a guest speaker.
This year’s topics include Tips for Going Back to School; Psychological Testing, IEEs and Evaluations; School Records; Children with Autism; Transition Services; Children with Emotional Needs; Discipline and Bullying; Charter Schools; Children with Dyslexia; Extended School Year; Assistive Technology; Discrimination and Compensatory Education; and, Settlements. See below for descriptions and schedules of each session.

PSBA is accepting applications to fill vacancies in NSBA's grassroots advocacy program. Deadline to apply is Sept. 6.
PSBA members: Influence public education policy at the federal level; join NSBA's Federal Relations Network
The National School Boards Association is seeking school directors interested in filling vacancies for the remainder of the 2013-14 term of the Federal Relations Network. The FRN is NSBA's grassroots advocacy program that provides the opportunity for school board members from every congressional district in the country who are committed to public education to get involved in federal advocacy. For more than 40 years, school board members have been lobbying for public education on Capitol Hill as one unified voice through this program. If you are a school director and willing to carry the public education message to Washington, D.C., FRN membership is a good place to start!

PSBA members will elect officers electronically for the first time in 2013
PSBA 7/8/2013
Beginning in 2013, PSBA members will follow a completely new election process which will be done electronically during the month of September. The changes will have several benefits, including greater membership engagement and no more absentee ballot process.
Below is a quick Q&A related to the voting process this year, with more details to come in future issues of School Leader News and at More information on the overall governance changes can be found in the February 2013 issue of the PSBA Bulletin:

Electing PSBA Officers: 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates
Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online now
PSBA Website Posted 8/5/2013
The 2014 PSBA Slate of Candidates is being officially published to the members of the association. Details on each candidate, including bios, statements, photos and video are online at

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
Important change this year: Delegate Assembly (replaces the Legislative Policy Council) will be Tuesday Oct. 15 from 1 – 4:30 p.m.
The PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of elected officials in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive collection of professional development opportunities for school board members and other education leaders.
See Annual School Leadership Conference links for all program details.

PAESSP State Conference October 27-29, 2013
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
The state conference is PAESSP’s premier professional development event for principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders. Attending will enable you to connect with fellow educators while learning from speakers and presenters who are respected experts in educational leadership.
 Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

School Choices: Are your PA tax dollars, intended for the classrooms of Chester Upland, funding this 20,000 sq.ft. mansion on the beach instead?

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District March 2013

"They don't feel they should be subject to this law, or, candidly, subject to you," Mutchler told senators on the state government committee, which is considering legislation to amend the five-year-old law. "They are a cancer on the otherwise healthy right-to- know-law."
Pa. official: Charter schools flout public-records law
By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau POSTED: May 15, 2013
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's 180 charter schools routinely ignore the state's Right-To-Know Law even though as publicly funded institutions they are bound to comply with it, the chief of the state's Office of Open Records told a Senate committee on Monday.  Executive director Terry Mutchler said her office had received 239 appeals in cases in which charter schools either rejected or failed to answer requests from the public for information such as budgets, payrolls, or student rosters. She said her office ruled in favor of the schools on just six of those appeals.

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

Keystone State Education Coalition Prior Posting
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

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