Tuesday, March 27, 2018

PA Ed Policy Roundup March 27: Next Goal for Student Gun-Control Activists: Win at the Polls

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Next Goal for Student Gun-Control Activists: Win at the Polls

2018 PSBA Advocacy Day April 16, 2018 Harrisburg
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the annual Advocacy Day on Monday, April 16, 2018, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. PSBA is partnering with Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units to have a stronger voice for public education. Hear how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. This event is free for members; registration is required.
Register online here: 

Gov. Wolf calls for independent commission to draw Pa. electoral maps
Inquirer by Liz Navratil  @liznavratil |  lnavratil@post-gazette.com Updated: MARCH 26, 2018 — 4:26 PM EDT
HARRISBURG — A week after two courts decided not to intervene in a challenge to Pennsylvania’s redrawn congressional district boundaries, Gov. Wolf on Monday renewed his call for legislators to create an independent commission to draw the state’s electoral maps. His announcement came a day before the Senate’s state government committee was set to discuss that measure and other potential election changes. That effort is supported by several groups that endorsed the lawsuit that led the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to strike down the previous congressional map and impose a new one, a move that many expect will improve Democrats’ chances of gaining ground in this year’s elections. “This should not be a partisan issue,” Wolf said at a Monday afternoon news conference in the Capitol. He added later, “This is really about democracy.” Wolf is also backing efforts that would allow people to register to vote on Election Day — instead of having to meet deadlines weeks before — and would automatically register eligible voters when they get a driver’s license from the state unless they opt out. He also supports limits on campaign donations. All of the bills have been referred to legislative committees, but have not left them — although some are expected to come up at a lengthy hearing Tuesday. Some face resistance or skepticism from Republicans, who hold the majorities in both chambers.

With two open seats, it's game on for Dems in the Philly 'burbs | Monday Morning Coffee
Penn Live By John L. Micek jmicek@pennlive.com Updated Mar 26, 8:51 AM; Posted Mar 26, 8:17 AM
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
This probably isn't the news that Pennsylvania Republicans wanted to wake up to on the start of a new working week. On Sunday, confirming recent rumors, GOP U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, decided to call it a career 
instead of running for re-election in a redrawn district that includes the Democrat-friendly city of Reading and a chunk of Chester County. He's the second, suburban Philadelphia Republican to decide against running for re-election, and the 39th House Republican overall, to opt against a re-election bid in a mid-term season that's expected to heavily favor Democrats. Earlier this year, GOP U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan decided against seeking re-election after being implicated in a sexual misconduct scandal involving a former staffer. His former 7th District seat, which includes Delaware County, has also been redrawn.  That leaves U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District (old 8th District) as the only suburban Philly Republican left standing among the old gang of three. And he may be feeling very lonely indeed, these days. 

Rep. Ryan Costello retirement adds to opportunities for Democrats across Philadelphia region
Inquirer by Jonathan Tamari, Washington Bureau  @JonathanTamari |  jtamari@phillynews.com Updated: MARCH 26, 2018 — 5:20 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — One after another, critical congressional races in the Philadelphia region have fizzled before a single vote has been cast. A string of Republicans have turned away from tough contests, leaving Democrats with opportunities to net a chunk of the House seats they hope to gain this fall. The latest example came Sunday night, when Rep. Ryan Costello, a Chester County Republican, decided against running for reelection, bowing out of a contest once heralded as a national bellwether for control of the House. Costello’s departure had been brewing for weeks, as he grew angry over a new congressional map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and, according to confidants, had soured on serving in Congress. To keep the seat, he would have had to overcome a strong challenger in a newly redrawn district and an area reflecting what has been a suburban backlash against President Trump. “The local Democrats and the left have become more engaged and candidly more angry by the week as President Trump says things and does things which many Republicans, myself amongst them, from time to time do disagree with,” Costello told MSNBC Sunday night in announcing that he would not seek another term representing the state’s Sixth District.

What's next for March for Our Lives: Uniting black students in cities with white students in suburbs
Inquirer by Michael Boren, Staff Writer  @borenmc |  mboren@phillynews.com Updated: MARCH 26, 2018 — 6:17 PM EDT
The traumatizing effect of gun violence on children of color was a central theme at Philadelphia’s March for Our Lives. Now, the challenge is making sure those voices stay prominent in the national conversation about gun control. It’s a steep task when gun violence in urban communities of color is often ignored, overlooked, or dismissed with a shrug of, “What can you do?”, as if it’s just accepted as the norm. But Romaine Wright, a black consultant who helped three student leaders organize Philly’s march, is hopeful. Both black and white students want to be safe when they walk out the door, she said. “It’s a shared message: That we are all standing here against gun violence,” Wright said. The difference, she said, is “the suburban students want to come home from school, and the inner city kids actually want to make it to school.”

Next Goal for Student Gun-Control Activists: Win at the Polls
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa March 26, 2018
The March for Our Lives may have riveted the nation over the weekend, but the next few months will determine if the nationwide demonstrations translate into action on gun control for the movement’s student leaders. Students who spearheaded Saturday’s massive march in Washington and hundreds of other events around the country are looking to put their shoulders into the push for stricter gun laws, such as a ban on selling semi-automatic rifles similar to the AR-15 used in several school shootings. That political activism is taking a variety of forms—but likely won’t get the same spotlight Saturday’s events attracted, and could face increasing opposition as the months wear on. And their work will enter the blocking-and-tackling phase of any successful political groundswell: turning people out to vote and electing lawmakers who will pursue the definitive policy changes they want.

Marching is great, voting is even better. Register by April 16th.
If you know someone who will turn 18 by May 15th here in PA, they must register now to vote in that election. The deadline is April 16th.

As protests swept the nation, Pennsylvania's U.S. representatives went off the grid
JULIAN ROUTH Pittsburgh Post-Gazette jrouth@post-gazette.com MAR 26, 2018 11:25 AM
Pennsylvania members of Congress were mostly silent on social media as students from across the nation gathered Saturday for one of the largest single-day protests in the history of Washington, D.C., an analysis of their profiles found. Only two of Pennsylvania’s 17 Congressmen used their Facebook and Twitter accounts to post messages during the day hundreds of thousands of people across the country — including many of their constituents — marched to protest gun violence and call directly on their legislators to take action. Not a single Republican representing the state in the U.S. House posted about the march or anything related to gun violence. Eight of them — Reps. Scott Perry, Ryan Costello, Pat Meehan, Bill Shuster, Tom Marino, Mike Kelly, Charlie Dent and Lou Barletta — didn’t post at all that day, but had used Twitter and Facebook at some point during the five days leading up to the demonstrations.

State, federal lawmakers from Pennsylvania discuss gun violence measures after students' March for Our Lives
Lancaster Online by TOM KNAPP | Staff Writer March 27, 2018
Bob Casey, a U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania, was inspired by young people who marched Saturday against gun violence. “It is because of these marchers and longtime advocates that I am hopeful our country will finally implement important gun safety measures,” Casey said. March for Our Lives, which drew hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the country — including several thousand Saturday in Lancaster — was a response to the Feb. 14 massacre that killed 17 students at a Parkland, Florida, high school. Students, Casey said in an email Monday to LNP, have had enough. “I’ve seen incredible outreach from students — some as young as five and six years old — who want Congress to take action on common-sense gun reforms that will help them feel safe in school and in their communities,” he said. Casey said he supports measures including implementing universal background checks, limiting high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and assault weapons, and preventing domestic abusers and people on the Terrorist Watchlist from getting their hands on guns. "It is because of these marchers and longtime advocates that I am hopeful our country will finally implement important gun safety measures." Pennsylvania’s other U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey, as well as U.S. Reps. Lloyd Smucker and Patrick Meehan — all Republicans — did not respond by deadline Monday to emails asking for their opinions on the march or its impact on future gun legislation.

Students speak up at East Penn school board meeting, hinting at future advocacy
Carol Thompson Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 26, 2018
First, Emmaus High School students walked out of the building to protest gun violence. A few weeks later, some joined the throngs marching in Allentown and Washington, D.C., to advocate for tighter gun laws. On Monday, they took to the lectern at an East Penn School Board meeting. Students packed the district conference room to defend their actions on March 14, when an estimated 800 stood in the high school parking lot to honor the victims of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and to advocate for reduced gun violence. Emmaus High School students might disagree about how to fix gun violence, but they agree on one thing: They didn’t walk out to miss class. The walkout took place during study hall, junior Samantha Smith said. “We stood united,” she said. “We stood for a cause, and we stood for our lives. We’re not pawns. We’re not sheep and we’re not snowflakes. We’re students, and we’re making a difference.” We’re not pawns. We’re not sheep and we’re not snowflakes. We’re students, and we’re making a difference.— Samantha Smith Smith was joined by nearly a dozen students, parents and community members who spoke up Monday in support of East Penn School District’s handling of the walkout demonstration on March 14. They said the district did the right thing by supporting — but not encouraging — the students who demonstrated that day.

Stroudsburg Area School Board votes down NRA grant for rifle team
The board voted 6-2 at Monday's meeting to not accept the grant.
Jacqueline Palochko Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 26, 2018
In a heated meeting, the Stroudsburg Area School Board voted against accepting a nearly $5,000 grant from the NRA for its rifle team, with one school director calling it “dirty money.” At Monday’s school board meeting, the board voted 6-2 to not accept a $4,730 grant from the NRA. An AP analysis published earlier this month showed that the NRA has given more than $7 million in recent years to 500 schools through grants. Stroudsburg High School has never received this grant before. Members of the rifle team applied for it. Two students who spoke to the board before the vote said their equipment dates from the 1970s. Reaction was split from the audience, which was crowded with parents, students and members of the rifle team. Members of Monroe County United, a local nonprofit, were also there and opposed the grant.

Detentions stemming from walkout lead to a passionate Pennridge school board meeting
Intelligencer By Christian Menno  Posted Mar 26, 2018 at 11:00 PMUpdated at 12:18 AM
Reactions to the board’s decision to impose detention on students that participated in the national walkout ranged from supportive to angry.
The decision by the Pennridge School District’s superintendent and school board to issue Saturday detentions to students taking part in the national walkout earlier this month brought about a wide range of reactions. They spanned the spectrum from disappointed disgust to adamant support. The issue led to widespread media attention, emails from residents and a deluge of posts online. The passionate reactions continued Monday night, when board members, parents, residents and students spoke during the board’s public meeting — the first since 225 students, many calling for stricter gun control laws and safer schools, walked out of school March 14, one month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Area schools encouraging girls to get STEM involved
Intelligencer By Chris English  Posted Mar 26, 2018 at 5:00 AM
More than 800 girls from public and private schools throughout Bucks County attend the annual STEM Conference at Delaware Valley University.
Don’t bring that “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” kind of stuff around Jessica Perfetto.
She isn’t buying any of it. Perfetto, a Pennsbury High School technology education teacher and the district’s curriculum coordinator for applied engineering/technology education, thinks the place for more and more females is in the laboratory, or at architectural and engineering firms or similar destinations devoted to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. With that goal in mind, Perfetto this school year started a course called Introduction to Women in Technology & Design that — though also open to boys — has the express purpose of encouraging and making girls feel more comfortable in pursuing STEM. And as March — Women’s History Month — winds down, the Pennsbury educator is one of many around the area taking steps that could help girls someday make a little history of their own in the STEM areas.

Don't lump brick-and-mortar charters with bad cyber schools | Perspective
Inquirer Opinion by John Page Updated: MARCH 26, 2018 — 1:50 PM EDT
John Page is a member of the board of the Souderton Charter School Collaborative 
A new study by Public Citizens for Children and Youth takes a highly critical view of the performance of cyber charter schools and broadly characterizes suburban brick-and-mortar charters as underperforming as well. But PCCY’s report, primarily using information from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, interprets the data without a full understanding of its sources, which leads to an incorrect conclusion. Reviewing the data with an understanding of where these numbers come from reveals a better picture of Philadelphia’s suburban brick-and-mortar charter schools. An Inquirer article (“Charters rise in suburbs; results mixed,” March 15) summarized PCCY’s report as saying, “Half the suburban charter schools in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties fared worse on state tests in the 2015-16 school year than districts with similar shares of disadvantaged students.”

After Years of Failed ‘School Choice,’ Philadelphia Gets Back Its Voice
OurFuture.org by Jeff Bryant MARCH 27, 2018
Despite the strong marketing for “school choice” by politicians and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, communities that know firsthand what it’s like to have lots of “options,” like charter schools and vouchers, have found what’s more important is to have a voice in how their schools are governed and operated. That’s the lesson to draw from Philadelphia, where the school district is about to complete a transition to local control after 16 years of governance by a state-appointed commission that emphasized cutting expenses and staff, closing neighborhood schools, and expanding charters. State control of Philadelphia’s schools came to an end in November 2017, when the state-imposed School Reform Commission (SRC), which governed the schools, voted itself out of existence. This sets the stage for the transfer of power to a local school board appointed by Mayor Jim Kenney. The transfer of governing power is expected to be completed June 30. This is a historic event, long in the making by a campaign of resistance led by Philadelphia citizens.

Who are Philly's best teachers? 59 'exceptional educators' honored
Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, Staff Writer  @newskag |  kgraham@phillynews.com Updated: MARCH 27, 2018 — 5:07 AM EDT
It comes in handy that Zahmu Sankofa, a middle-school teacher in Port Richmond, is a singer and songwriter: He uses his background as an entertainer to keep students engaged. Almost three decades into a career in education, Rosemary Leslie is still inspired by the energy and charm of her South Philadelphia kindergartners, and still changing her teaching methods to meet the needs of every one. And Alicia Conquest, who teaches Spanish in West Philadelphia, is a ball of energy who captures her students’ hearts and minds with her lessons and her love. The trio are among three of the 59 Philadelphia School District educators being honored Tuesday by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation with $3,500 awards for excellence in teaching. The Lindback Foundation honors excellent teaching locally. Since 2008, it has awarded millions to outstanding School District teachers, who are chosen by school officials and Lindback trustees. “People need to know that there are some exceptional educators in Philadelphia public schools,” said David Loder, one of the trustees. “There are so many committed, dedicated teachers, and we’re proud to recognize them.”

United Way gives teachers lesson in understanding traumatized kids
The United Way started a collaborative to bring childhood trauma awareness to a myriad of organizations.
Michelle Merlin Contact Reporter Of The Morning Call March 26, 2018
Beth Tomlinson challenges a room full of 100 people to imagine her hand is a brain. Her wrist, the brain stem, which controls functions such as breathing and heart rate. Her thumb, the limbic system, which controls emotions and the fight-or-flight response. Her fingers, the cerebral cortex, where thinking and reasoning takes place. A typical learning brain is like a fist, all pieces working together. But for students who experience trauma — anything from divorced parents to sexual abuse to a parent in jail — it’s more like disconnected fingers. Their brains cannot engage in learning because they are too focused on survival, Tomlinson, the director of education for the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, said. Adults can use the model to show children what’s going on in their brains, Tomlinson said. And by holding up four fingers, children can signal to adults that they need a minute to calm down and get back in control of their emotions, she added. Last week’s lesson was the second in a three-part training session by the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley for educators and others who work with children.

From light bulbs to drones, a new curriculum takes flight in North Philly school
WHYY By Avi Wolfman-Arent March 26, 2018
A Catholic school in North Philadelphia, is piloting a curriculum that will turn students into literal pilots. Drone pilots, that is. Throughout this school year, the students at Cristo Rey have gobbled up technical skills they’ll eventually translate into a fleet of homemade drones. The drones provide a capstone for the school’s new Autonomous Systems Engineering Academy, an initiative funded and developed jointly by the auditing firm Deloitte and Base 11, an education nonprofit focused on getting more students into STEM-related fields. Nothing has actually left the ground yet. On Monday, students road-tested model cars they controlled using coded commands loaded onto a small computer. The three-wheeled shells moved forward and back, turned side to side, snapped pictures, and lit up. That may sound rudimentary, but it’s several steps removed from where the students began the year.

Betsy DeVos visits Johnstown, makes good on promise to visit struggling schools
Trib Live by MATTHEW SANTONI  | Monday, March 26, 2018, 11:57 a.m.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made good on a promise to visit struggling schools with a stop in Johnstown on Monday. Greater Johnstown School District welcomed DeVos to Johnstown Elementary — an unusual honor and a chance to review the school's program for supporting students at risk amid the opioid crisis. It was her first school visit since a "60 Minutes" interview in which she said she wanted to visit low-performing school districts but wondered aloud, "Will they let me in?" DeVos' representatives said the visit was not prompted by the "60 Minutes" interview, but rather was part of the Trump administration's outreach on the opioid crisis. Cambria County has the highest overdose death rate per capita in Pennsylvania, DeVos said. Superintendent Michael Vuckovich said Greater Johnstown is the third-poorest district in Pennsylvania, and the surrounding community had experienced a 67 percent jump in overdose deaths since 2015.

Bethlehem School District cuts deficit to $5.4M
$3M would come from fund balance
WFMZ By: Stephen Althouse  Posted: Mar 27, 2018 12:55 AM EDT Updated: Mar 27, 2018 04:50 AM EDT
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Bethlehem Area School District's challenge this spring will be to balance the books. School officials reported during Monday night's budget meeting that they have cut the $10.7 million deficit projected in February for the 2018-2019 budget deficit down to $5.4 million. The majority of the $5.3 million reduction came from one source: the district's fund balance. BASD announced they'll use $3 million of it to narrow the gap, and they'll save another $776,000 through the retirements of 23 employees. The changes leave the new proposed budget's total revenues at $276.6 million and total expenditures at $282 million. The district lays the blame for this year's budgetary shortfall on insufficient funding and on charter schools. Superintendent Joseph Roy said that local school districts such as BASD are not receiving enough funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He added that the formula to fund charters schools is unfair to local school districts and that reform is needed. In addition, he said that PSERS funding changes are also needed.

Erie schools’ monitor starts job with meetings in Harrisburg
GoErie By Ed Palattella  Posted at 2:01 AM
Monday is Charles Zogby’s official first day as the Erie School District’s state-paid financial administrator. He is meeting with state education officials this week. The Erie School District’s state-paid financial administrator officially starts the job on Monday, but he will begin his work in Harrisburg rather than Erie. Charles Zogby, a former state budget and education secretary, will continue to meet with state Department of Education officials and others in Harrisburg on Monday to further review the Erie School District’s finances, the department said. Those meetings are expected to last through this week. Erie schools Superintendent Brian Polito said Zogby is scheduled to be in Erie next week, and that the Department of Education is coordinating an introductory conference call with the school district and Zogby this week. The department said Zogby, appointed to the $148,000-a-year-post on March 9, will also meet this week with representatives of Public Financial Management, of Philadelphia, the Erie School District’s state-appointed financial adviser. PFM has assisted the district in its extended effort to stay solvent.

PSBA Equity Coordinators Taskforce seeks participants
PSBA invites staff and leaders from across the commonwealth who are specifically tasked with promoting equity initiatives in their district to participate in the first Equity Coordinators Taskforce. PSBA defines equity as the just and fair distribution of resources based upon each individual student’s needs. This taskforce will discuss and share best practices, concerns, goals, and resources on equity. We’d like to hear from districts currently doing this work and incorporating equity into their framework. If interested, please email your name, title and district to Michelle Kunkel by March 30.  

In 1975, Congress promised to cover 40% of the average cost to educate a child with disabilities. Congress later amended the law to say that the Federal Govt would pay a “maximum” of 40% of per-pupil costs. Today, the Federal Govt pays less than half of what it originally promised in 1975.
(IDEA Series) Broken Promises: The Underfunding of IDEA National Council on Disability, February 7, 2018

Linda Brown, Symbol of Landmark Desegregation Case, Dies
New York Times By NEIL GENZLINGER MARCH 26, 2018
Linda Brown, whose father objected when she was not allowed to attend an all-white school in her neighborhood and who thus came to symbolize one of the most transformative court proceedings in American history, the school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, died on Sunday in Topeka, Kan. She was 75. Her death was confirmed on Monday by a spokesman for the Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel in Topeka, which is handling her funeral arrangements. He did not specify the cause. It is Ms. Brown’s father, Oliver, whose name is attached to the famous case, although the suit that ended up in the United States Supreme Court actually represented a number of families in several states. In 1954, in a unanimous decision, the court ruled that segregated schools were inherently unequal. The decision upended decades’ worth of educational practice, in the South and elsewhere, and its ramifications are still being felt.

2018 PSBA Advocacy Day April 16, 2018 Harrisburg
Join PSBA and your fellow school directors for the annual Advocacy Day on Monday, April 16, 2018, at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. PSBA is partnering with Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units to have a stronger voice for public education. Hear how advocacy makes a difference in the legislative process and the importance of public education advocacy. Government Affairs will take a deeper dive into the legislative priorities and will provide tips on how to be an effective public education advocate. There will be dedicated time for you and your fellow advocates to hit the halls to meet with your legislators on public education. This is your chance to share the importance of policy supporting public education and make your voice heard on the Hill. This event is free for members; registration is required.
Register online here: 


NPE: Join us in a Day of Action April 20th to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools
Network for Public Education February 16, 2018 by Darcie Cimarusti
After the slaughter of students and staff in Parkland, Florida, the time for action has never been more urgent. The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools. We will be silent no more! The failure to enact rational laws that bar access to guns designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. It is past time to speak out and act. Pledge your support to stop gun violence here. We call for mass action on April 20, the anniversary of the horrific shootings at Columbine High School. We urge teachers, families, students, administrators and every member of the community to engage in acts of protest in and around their schools. Create actions that work best in your community.  Organize sit-ins, teach-ins, walkouts, marches–whatever you decide will show your school and community’s determination to keep our students safe. One elementary teacher suggested that teachers and parents link arms around the school to show their determination to protect children.

PASA Women's Caucus Annual Conference "Leaders Lifting Leaders"
May 6 - 8, 2018 Hotel Hershey

Featured Speakers...
*Dr. Helen Sobehart - Women Leading Education Across Continents: Lifting Leaders from Here to There
*Dr. Tracey Severns - Courageous Leadership
*Dr. Emilie Lonardi - Lead and Lift: A Call for Females to Aspire to the Superintendency
*Deputy Secretary Matt Stem - Update from the PDE

Registration: https://www.pasa-net.org/wcconf

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Join the PA Principals Association, the PA Association of School Administrators and the PA Association of Rural and Small Schools for PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at the Capitol in Harrisburg, PA.  
A rally in support of public education and important education issues will be held on the Main Rotunda Steps from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Visits with legislators will be conducted earlier in the day. More information will be sent via email, shared in our publications and posted on our website closer to the event.
To register, send an email to Dr. Joseph Clapper at clapper@paprincipals.org before Friday, June 8, 2018.
Click here to view the PA Education Leaders Advocacy Day 2018 Save The Date Flyer (INCLUDES EVENT SCHEDULE AND IMPORTANT ISSUES.) 

SAVE THE DATE for the 2018 PA Educational Leadership Summit - July 29-31 - State College, PA sponsored by the PA Principals Association, PASA, PAMLE and PASCD.  
This year's Summit will be held from July 29-31, 2018 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA.

Any comments contained herein are my comments, alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or organization that I may be affiliated with.


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