This Is Not Wisconsin

I'm dividing today's news coverage of the strike into local coverage and national coverage -- there's tons of both, though I'm not sure it will tell you anything much you don't already know (except perhaps how the media machine is digesting and hyping the situation).  I found the NYT story particularly disappointing because it tries to fit Chicago into the convenient Wisconsin narrative and I think that the Chicago story is more about personalities and opportunism than a Republican insurgency and a union under attack. Reformers aren't Republicans.  At $30 million a year, CTU is not helpless.  But that's just me.


Board chief tells union ‘we should resolve this’ Tuesday Sun Times:  Chicago’s teacher strike will spill into Day Two. The president of the Chicago School Board, David Vitale, told the union “We should resolve this tomorrow. We are close enough.”

The remaining issues in dispute, according to Rahm Emanuel Sun TImes: CPS says principals need to be able to hire whomever they want, but they have put some sweeteners into the deal for teachers who get laid off in the future. A small category will be guaranteed jobs; some may be entitled to an interview and an explanation of why they weren’t hired; some may elect to get a three-month lump sum severance. The union objects that the CPS offer doesn’t provide job security for most teachers expected to be displaced as CPS closes more schools; only a limited number have firm recall rights; most teachers with acceptable ratings …

What's really driving teachers to strike? WBEZ:  Beyond the issues of pay and the length of a work day, teachers have voiced complaints about class size, student safety and overheated classrooms. Those issues have come to the fore as thousands descended upon downtown to rally support around the Teachers Union.

Emanuel to union: 'Don't take it out on the kids' WBEZ:  At a press conference, Mayor Emanuel said he wanted to end the confrontation quickly.

Strike Day 1: Emanuel weighs in, CTU pickets Catalyst: Mayor Rahm Emanuel again Monday called the teachers’ strike one of “choice” and said that negotiators just need to figure out two issues. Meanwhile, CTU ratcheted up the pressure on Monday. After getting teachers out to picket from early in the morning til 10:30 a.m., they held a massive rally outside of CPS headquarters downtown.

Public League won't play during teachers' strike Chicago Tribune: The ruling does allow for practices to be held if the Chicago Public Schools board wishes. “It was the conclusion of the Board that granting such a request extended beyond its authority,” IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in a written statement.


Teachers’ Strike in Chicago Tests Mayor and Union NYT: This city found itself engulfed on Monday by a sudden public school strike that left 350,000 children without classes, turned a spotlight on rising tensions nationally over teachers’ circumstances, and placed both the powerful teachers’ union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a risky, politically fraught standoff with no clear end in sight.

Will Strike Halt Public Education Efforts Overall?  WSJ: The Chicago teachers strike highlights tension between a new crop of Democratic mayors and teachers unions and other labor groups as cities try to overhaul public-education and plug municipal-budget holes. Stephanie Banchero has details on The News Hub.

How Will Chicago Teachers' Strike Impact the 2012 Race? PoliticsK12: Already, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, put out a statement saying he's "disappointed" by the union's decision to strike, and that Obama has picked his dog in this political fight (the unions).

Thousands Of Chicago Teachers Take To The Streets Huffington Post: CTU President Karen Lewis reportedly stepped into negotiations as late as 11:30 a.m. Monday, a move that angered Emanuel. Lewis is expected to appear later on MSNBC's "The Ed Show," but CTU representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the union's next steps.

In Chicago, 'Perfect Storm' Led To Teachers' Strike NPR:  The issues at stake in the Chicago teachers strike have already been encountered in hundreds of school systems around the country, but few, if any, have led to strikes. In Chicago, it was a combination of personalities, politics and local issues...


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  • "Chicago teachers resisting much needed education reforms" - The Washington Post via @chipubschools

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    The proposed evaluation system is deeply flawed. Every teacher that I know wants an evaluation system. 40 % of the proposed system relies on standardized testing, 15% on student surveys and the remainder on classroom observations by principals. As a history teacher I am at a disadvantage, no matter how well I teach, b/c the current standardized tests only measure Reading and Writing. THERE ARE NO STANDARDIZED TESTS for the Social Sciences, Science, Writing, PE, Art and Special Education, Speech Pathology. The districts wants to use an the composite score for the school (aggregate of all students) for teachers in non-benchmark subject areas. That's bogus b/c there is no way to disaggregate my contribution in History (130 students out of 1500) from those numbers. It's unfair and flawed. Not to mention the fact that a number of studies have shown that it is not a consistent measure of teacher effectiveness, as students performance on these tests can is highly variable from one year to the next. One year the teacher might be in the top ten percent of scores and the next year show a dramatic drop.
    Secondly, I have a great deal of skepticism about the ability of principals to carry this out. This is a highly technical and very complex system of evaluating teachers. Unfortunately, not all Principals can carry the mantle of academic leader in a school. Some are more gifted than others. In my 13 years of experience I have never seen principals do very thorough evaluations. There observations are more like drive-bys where they come in the classroom for five minutes and leave. It seems like most principals focus their "evaluative energy" on the teachers they want remove. Focusing more on the weeds than the roses. The process has been extremely subjective. There seems to be little or no interest in helping teachers get better or improve their craft. I suspect for some principals, it's a matter of not knowing how. For me personally, I've been evaluated one time in the last three years. Despite my repeated requests for an observation or feedback , my principal did not observe me until this year. A whole four months passed before I received my evaluation and it was on the last day of school. There wasn't a pre-post meeting or any detailed feedback. It seemed like a generic, compliance document. I guess I should be happy with a "superior", but I don't measure myself against that criteria. I have my own rubric and I know their are many things I can improve. Unfortunately,the principal is the last person I can rely on to help develop my craft.
    I'm not the only one who has had this experience being evaluated. The milk has been spoiled.

  • Emanuel's challenge: Win public opinion battle while settling teachers strike -

  • jimwarren - Blog - Knock, knock, who's there? A perfectly striking metaphor for a Chicago strike

  • not as surprising as the sun times' editorial against the strike, but still

    Don't cave, Mr. Mayor -

  • CTU STRIKES THAT (RP) WALKED THE PICKET LINE AS A TEACHER- 1980: A 10-day strike was waged over a series of payless paydays and threats to increase class size. After going without a paycheck over Christmas, teachers stop working for five days, then strike for five days, reducing some of the cuts forced on CPS by the School Finance Authority. The strike resulted in the preservation of our contract, class size limits, and payment of delayed salary. 1983: A 15-day strike won a 5% salary increase in addition to 2.5% bonus pay. Contract improvements also included improved sick leave and maternity/paternity leaves. 1984: A 10-day strike resulted in the elimination of payroll deductions for health care, a 4.5% salary increase, 2.5% bonus pay, Political Action Committee (PAC) contribution deductions, and a medical plan that for the first time offers a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). 1985: A 2-day strike gained an increase in major medical coverage, including improved benefits for maternity and paternity leave, a 9% salary increase over 2 years, restoration of holidays that were lost in the strike, and the ability of members to accumulate up to 234 sick days. 1987: A 19-day strike, the longest in CTU history, permitted the lowest achieving schools to have class size in the primary grades reduced by two, provided an increase in major medical coverage, an 8% salary increase over 2 years, and the ability to accumulate 244 sick days. P.S.- All strike settlements included make-up days for days lost on strike. This means CTU members will be paid for the lost days later.

  • So the CTU has a history of striking for more money. Tell me something I didn't know.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    RP's list is a great illustration of why teacher's unions lost democratic support.
    It's the never ending expectation of MORE. I supported teacher's raises for years. But that wasn't an offer of unconditional love.

  • Simple solution:
    Create Eligibility Pool based on new agreed upon evaluation system. Allow teachers an appeal or process to get into pool if they have a poor evaluation. Add the three strike rule. Allow time for this to be developed and implemented. The mayor discussed this on the news.
    Remember LSCs must hire from an eligibilty pool created by CPS to ensure quality candidates for leadereship roles. The same thinking can applied to teachers and it be serve as an incentive for teachers to take jobs with the poorest performing schools, that need the best teachers. Don't forget CPS already pushes principals to hire TFAs.

  • Alex, I couldn't DISAGREE with your analysis more. Why is it that the self appointed champions of education reform are never residing in the school districts they scheme against. Sir, the fact you used to live in Chicago does not qualify you for a seat at the table. You are not vested in my community or any other in this city. This blog and the other astro turf reform organizations are cut from the same carpetbagging cloth. This is Wisconsin 2.0. The anger and frustration being manifested in these massive demonstrations is a direct result of the Boards aloofness AND the mayor's strong arm tactics. Their unwillingness to consider any input from the community and educators has created this situation. Enough is enough. We have their attention now.

  • Has anyone heard from Brizard? Is he gone? There are a lot of new faces on TV, but I haven't heard of a leadership change. Anybody know what is happening?

  • In reply to cpsparent:

    he met with network people on saturday downtown and he was at bell school yesterday.

  • Thought this was a great take on the strike:

  • Another interesting take from the Washington Post:

  • CPS STAKEHOLDERS, THIS WILL BE A LONG STRIKE, NOT A SHORT STRIKE: 1. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a conservative republican wrapped in the clothes of a democrat on education. 2. Mayor Rahm Emanual is promoting 250 more charter schools over the next few years, merit pay and tougher evaluations of teachers based on standardize test scores. 3. This is not a strike of choice, but a strike of voice for the teachers. 4. Mayor Rahm Emanuel started this fight and the CTU will end this fight. 5. The majority of principals, assistant principals and even the administrators at 125 S. Clark support the CTU strike. 6. Children First (Babysitters First) adminstrators told principals, assistant principals and administrators to wear black to school on Monday, so that they could distinguish them from CTU members wearing red. 7. CPS restored lanes for this contract and would grant steps, but CPS wouldn't pay (modify) CTU members for the steps. 8. CPS made robo calls to CTU members asking them to work at the 144 (Babysitting schools), now increased to 147 (Babysitting schools). 9. CPS is trying to get a court order to force CTU members back to work. 10. CPS is now looking at expanding the hours for the 147 (Babysitting schools) from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. 11. CEO JC Brizard doesn't know what to do about the strike until he is fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.12. CEO JC Brizard got in trouble with Mayor Rahm Emanuel by going kayaking on his two week vacation during a critical time with the CTU. P.S.- I think the CTU should buy CEO JC Brizard a new kayaking canoe, so that he can paddle back to Rochester, New York. THE CTU received the biggest support check from the Rochester Teachers Union and a letter of apology for sending JC Brizard to Chicago.

  • Hi retired principal,

    Thanks for all this info. my husband is a teacher and I take my hat off to ALL teachers! I see the work that goes into being a teacher. My husband spends 80% of his time doing his job. It is a very demanding job and the demands are getting bigger and bigger and in my opinion, very unrealistic.

    Do you think that they will be able to force the teachers back to work?? I think if Rham really did that, he would have a war on his hands. This is not only about Chicago, it is so much bigger from what I am seeing. How long do you think this strike will go on? I agree nobody wants a strike, but the teachers have to stand up for their rights now otherwise the consequences will be devestating for the teachers in the long run.

  • RP,

    I am on your side, but the flood of rhetoric is overwhelming to me (an avid reader, analyzer, vested member of this process) so I cannot imagine what the average thinks/feels about all of this.

    I'm ready to see some people step up and move from problem to solution.

    After reading the plethora of insight your have provided on this blog over the past few months, I am interested to hear what you feel the solution(s) is/are....

  • In reply to Ed4who:

    Dear Retired Principal--Please respond about the solutions.
    An issue that must be recognized by the BOE from the principals' side, is the punishment of REACH to both teachers and to the principals. Principals have given up trying to be listened to by CPS brass.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Are you referring to the REACH performance tasks, or the REACH framework for evaluation? Both very different topics, so try to be clear about what you're complaining about. And yes, I know the REACH performance tasks are included as part of the the final evaluation but there are legitimate concerns about each, which unfortunately the CTU has only distorted in their propaganda agenda.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    As an instructional leader for over 7 years, I disagree with you. The perfromance tasks are tied to commoncore, the tasks are also tied to teacher evaluation, as well as the too many other tests teachers have to give their 31 (plus)students, especially in grades k-2. (Which takes up instructional time that teachers need since they are being judged on scores, as well as all four catagories, with sub-catagoies, that also have addtional sub-catagories under Daneilson.)
    They are very much related; which causes me have second-thoughts about trying to raise your thought process on this. Your last line confirms my intuition.
    I do pray you are not from CO, although, if you are, with the way REACH is being implemented, this would give some explaination as to why teachers have made this their cause célèbre.
    If you were a practicing successful teacher, you would not write what you have. If you were in a classroom and this was happening to you, you would be first on the line, standing in a sea of red.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    additional sub-categories under Danielson? This isn't true. CPS actually took out a couple components from Danielson based on CTU feedback.

    I argee the REACH performance tasks are burdensome and probably an utter waste but to claim the REACH framework is a "punishment" as some are claiming suggests rhetoric and propaganda. CPS hasn't done enough to introduce the REACH framework but it's based on Danielson and if some teachers aren't familar with it, maybe they aren't as professional as they might claim. Most teachers I know see real value in the REACH framework. If you worry I'm from Central Office, I seriously worry that you are an instructional leader and for seven years!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You have completely supported my thought that you do not know what you are talking about-and you did not bother to look at the 'placemat'. I will try again since I am very concerend that you are a CPS-CO employee with such a negative attitude. There are 19 sub-catagories under the four areas of Danielson. Those catagoires have other catagories--descriptors that teachers must 'perform' on. Yes, CPS took a very few 'componets out,' but to teachers' and principals' surprise, added some back in. You even admit the tasks are an 'utter waste', (how much tax-payer dollars was adn will be wasted on test creation-btw?) Then, you do not see that wasting teachers' instuctional time with students is not punishment to them, when they will be evaluated on the very thing that takes the time away. Not surprising that you blame teachers for not knowing. (Good businesses educate their workers--not blame them.) Danielson has great merit--btw--I have used Danielson for for 7 years-yes, I have-before CPS every knew about it. How many times have there been confusing messages from CPS REACH as well as OPL? Too many. Even the modules were completely different from what CPS REACH put out since March. No network has 100% yet of the modules passed-and that was due 7/27! Heck, I am sure you blame the principals for this too. It is CPS who has chosen to rush this through. It is CPS who had the power to say stop this mad rush and allow all to learn about it first and implement it correctly.
    You have nothing at all to worry about. It will be the instructional leaders and teachers who will have to carry this burden, not you, as we too adn so often do, and suffer the mistakes of those who created it at central office, who are oh so well removed.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    LOL, I'm not in CO, you apparently can't believe that anyone that works in schools would have a different opinoin than you? Just because we all march together doesn't mean we all think the same, too. You still haven't justified your claim that REACH won't allow you to keep great teachers. A baseless claim.

    Yes, I agree the REACH Performance Assessments are a waste of time with so many other tests students take. The difference between me and you is that I can parse the difference between the Performance Assessments and the Placemat. Related, yes. The same, no. Not at all. Very different things. Got it? Want me to draw a picture for you?

    Yes, I blame principals for not passing an online test. When they first released the modules there was a limit as to how many times you culd take it. After principals had a hard time passing it they removed the limits. Now you can take it an UNLIMITED number of times to pass it. Imagine being able to take the Basic skills test an unlimited number of times? if a principal stilll can't pass it that scares me to no end that they are evaluating our colleagues. It should worry you, too, if you weren't so clouded by Lewis's propaganda.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I spend at least 20% of my total instructional time giving assessments each year to five year olds. Five year olds. After lunch, recess and prep, and breakfast, I have 4 hours and 45 minutes of instructional time each day. I will spend nearly an hour each day giving assessments mandated by the district, many of which measure the EXACT same thing and are not necessary. Crazy. Stupid. Foolish. I end up sacrificing my professional integrity and the developmental needs of children to meet the foolish mandates given by my district.


    Interesting observation on Rahm's language using statements like "Our students" when he won't send his kids to OUR schools.

    Also, a blunt, interesting take on charters.

    Anyone have any studies to support his statements on Harvard's findings on charters?

  • In reply to Ed4who:’t

    I saw you on the news last night talking about our kids and how the strike will affect our kids. I know I am being nitpicky but let’s face facts, your kids went to school today and ours didn’t.

    You see Mayor,

    Your kids go to a school with playgrounds; many of our kids don’t (almost 100 CPS schools have no outdoor playground or have unsafe, outdated playgrounds).
    Your kids go to a school with a full-time nurse and after-school nurse; our kids are lucky if they get one nurse per three schools.
    Your kids go to school with art, music, drama, sports, before school activities, after school activities; our kids don’t.
    Your kids have a world class library at their school; many of our kids don’t have libraries (165 CPS Schools have no library).
    Your kids have world language; our kids rarely do.
    Your kids have Learning Consultants, Learning Specialists, Reading Specialists and Counselors; our kids don’t.
    Your kids have a cafeteria; many of our kids eat lunch in their classrooms.
    Your kids’ class size averages 23 students assisted by a teacher and an aide; our kids can have 32 + kids and no aide.
    Our kids have learned a few things;

    Our kids know how to make paper fans; your kids have air-conditioning.
    Our kids' classroom can be a trailer; your kids enjoy ample space.
    Our kids spend over 20% of the school year on taking tests; your kids spend time creatively learning.
    Our kids have to take a test at four years old or win a magnet lottery to go to a good school; your kids did not.
    Our kids are told by public officials that their teachers are greedy; your kids are taught by saints who don’t need money.
    Our kids just need more time for better grades; your kids need art, music, world language, athletics, theater, etc.
    Our kids’ bad grades are due to bad union teachers; your kids’ good grades are due to good union teachers.*
    Mayor Emanuel, you always talk about bringing world-class education to Chicago, but third-world conditions of CPS won't achieve that end. Parents are incredulous when they receive memos claiming success of the Full School day after only three days of its implementation. Just because the CPS PR department is 600% larger than in previous years, doesn’t make the communications 600% more credible.

    No matter how the result of this strike will be spun, blanched and sautéed by your PR department, just remember your kids went to school today, ours didn’t.

    *Correction UofC lab school teachers are unionized and can bargain over class size.

  • In reply to jildo:

    Could I have permission to reprint your post elsewhere?

    It does a beautiful job of making a key point that needs to be made in the battle for the soul of public education: The kind of education people buy for their own children when money is no object is so very, very different from what they demand of us, and do to us, as public educators.

  • How does this turn of events inspire anyone "great" teacher to stay in Chicago?

    How does this turn of events inspire future "great" teachers to find employment in Chicago public schools?

    It truly is about the kids. Those who need the MOST attention in the country are getting the least qualified/inspiring teachers in the market.

    As a case manager in CPS, I do the work of an administrator or "Director of Special Education" in the suburbs but the teachers are "greedy" and don't have the kids in mind. Last year, I watched three special education positions go unfilled in my school. This year, two paraprofessionals positions and a special education position are left unfilled.

    I bring it up because the biggest liability to OUR country is uneducated youth growing up. An even greater liability is students in urban areas identified with a disability. In many, many cases, these students are left to a life drawing disability checks when they could have been prepared to be productive members of our society. These students could be trained in fields in which they can excel. But instead, they lack services and opportunity.

    Thank you Rod for your attempts at bringing a voice to those unheard.

  • Our school has been able to choose what teachers we need for our school, even with full school day positions. School leaders want to be able to keep top teachers at their school. REACH, in its present form, does not allow this. CPS will soon make all schools use per-pupil budgeting, which will also force schools to lose great teachers.
    You may say it is about money or jobs, but in the long run, it is about the best schools for our neighborhood school students.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    What?! REACH doesn't allow schools being able to choose which teachers to hire? Or it doesn't allow school leaders to keep top teachers in the school? Neither are true. REACH has nothing to do with hiring. REACH will help teachers become better at their profession and should help identify "top teachers" whereas the former checklist was very subjective and allowed principals to choose their friends and supporters as the top teachers. I find it amazing that the CTU is against REACH. Really?! You'd prefer the checklist which was so unspecific on anything that a principal can give whatever ratings they want to a teacher? Evaluations have been used in the past to target what principals considered to be "bad teachers". With REACH principals will be forced to evaluate all teachers using a specific framework which is, a-hem, more FAIR. And we all know the CTU is all about teachers being treated fairly. The old checklist was not fair. It was downright stupid and unprofessional. So before you sound off on REACH you should understand it first.

    However, your line about per-pupil funding...yeah, that's probably going to happen unless the US decides to finally fund education instead of war, and that is very scary as that will almost definitely result in the teaching profession becoming part of the low-wage and least respected service industry

  • You mis-understand-- I should not think that you read the whole string or prior posts. REACH does NOT help you keep your great teachers. REACH is a punishment by the way it is being thrown on to teachers and principals. Please count every sub-section on the Danielson rubric 'placemat' that CPS has chosen to use. How many individual areas are teachers forced to meet? How many points do you need to be distinguished? Yes, points. Please share one in-depth professional development that was given to teachers or principals by CPS on this process--much less having principals and teachers learn this togther--(now there is a 21C idea.) REACH is being done to us, not with us.
    There is yet to be on CPS network that has all princpals and assistant certified in this process--which was to be done by July, then August and now even past the last date of 9/7. There is a problem here, professors, principals, researchers and probably Danielson herself if she would bother to not just listen to CPS as to how her research is being used as a punishing 'placemat,' would unite in telling CPS/BOE to allow a full-school year of learning , of implementation and understanding and see real examples before ANY formative observations take place. I know of no successful business where employees do not know, dont understand, and are not trained on the evaluation process being used on them. Vitale shold know this.

  • Danielson actually approves of CPS use of her Framework. Your evidence that REACH is flawed is based on the fact principals can't pass an online test? Maybe this suggests many principals aren't prepared to be instructional leaders? Many principals got the job by working their way up the system and knowing the right people, not by being an effective teacher.

    What is your proof REACH doesn't help you keep the great teachers? Repeating the claim doesn't make it true. You don't have any reason backing this claim.

    Your line, "REACH is being done to us, not with us" is why they had to pass SB7. We had the silly checklist for 40 years because the CTU refused to support a more professional evaluation tool. I want to know how many times you develop your rubics with your students? Do you do it before every assignment? Every test? Does EVERY one of your students know the EXACT grading criteria they are being judged on? I doubt it, that would be very time consuming for you to spend so much time developing rubrics for every assessment and walking the kids through it until each understood it perfectly. To expect EVERY principal and teacher to understand REACH before it has even been used is just as silly. Stop believing the hyperbole from Lewis. Start listening to Weingarten. She has admitted Unions have not been as progressive as they should have. She admits Unions have some problems they need to address, one of them being evaluations.

    I do agree CPS has not introduced REACH as much as they should have. This is Rahm's fault of shoving too many changes all at once, but just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it's flawed.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    She did not in the begining--She is completely unaware of how CPS REACH is basterdizing it--and--well money talks. Nuff said.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    So you're suggesting Danielson is putting money over her ethics? her values? Wow. I think Danielson is rich enough by selling her books, speeches, and other gigs. But hey, it's easier to slander her to prove your point, huh? Way to show your solidarity, brother. When you can't win, play dirty.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    There needs to be an investigation by the Danielson Corp. of what CPS is doing with her process.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to district299reader:

    They'll never bite the hand that feeds them.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    " .When states design evaluation systems,
    like New York Is doing at the moment, do you think standardized test scores should factor into evaluations?A

    .My expertise is on defining good teaching. It’s not on how to use test scores. I do think that it’s reasonable for teachers to demonstrate that their kids have learned. I think that does make sense. Beyond that, though, I’m not at all convinced that it can be done fairly for teachers based on what we know now, particularly in a high-stakes environment."

    This means she agrees with cps?


  • Yep!
    Pretty much all CPS systems: PeopleSoft, IMPACT.
    Nothing! But I guess it's OK because logging in and checking would mean scabbing!

  • RP--this is a good thing. Now CPS cannot spy on what teachers are emailing to each other--like 'let's all wear red tomorrow,' or 'can you donate a couple of sweaters for my students that your children do not use anymore?'
    RP-they also knocked-off employees who were NOT CTU members. I wish I could laugh--cannot laugh at incompetance.

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