8 Percent Not Enough?

Today’s news is all about the vote to set a strike date for September 10, who’s to blame for this sorry state of affairs (Rahm more than Brizard, I’d argue), and what if anything CTU will be able to wring out of CPS beyond the 8 percent that’s already been proposed (and rejected as insufficient) .  What do you think?  Let us know.

Chicago teachers set Sept. 10 strike date; CPS to open half-day schools Sun Times: The Chicago Teachers Union set Sept. 10 as a strike date during a meeting Thursday, three delegates emerging from the meeting said. Meanwhile, CPS outlined a contingency plan for students. “We must be prepared,” CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said.

Chicago teachers set strike date: Sept. 10 WBEZ: September 10. That’s the date the Chicago Teachers Union says it will walk out on strike unless teachers have a contract agreement.The union’s House of Delegates voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to trade their chalk for picket signs a week from Monday if no deal is reached.

CPS to open 145 schools for half-days if teachers strike Sun Times: Chicago Public School officials started reaching out to parents Thursday — through letters, text messages, robo-calls and in a “tele-town hall” meeting — to reassure them that their children will be fed, supervised and occupied in the event of a teachers strike.

Teachers set strike date: Sept. 10 Catalyst: CTU members have complained recently that Brizard has not participated in negotiations. But Jim Franczek, an attorney at labor law firm Franczek Radelet who has represented CPS in numerous negotiation sessions, says that former CEO Arne Duncan never participated in negotiations in 2007 and only stepped in once during 2003 negotiations. “CEOs rarely participate in labor negotiations anywhere,” he notes.

Time for elected school board Sun Times (opinion): Let me get this right, there has not been aChicago Public Schools strike in 25 years; so what’s the common denominator here? Rahm Emanuel and Jean-Claude Brizard. Every day I’m rethinking my mayoral vote.

Hold firm, CPS Chicago Tribune (opinion): The Chicago Teachers Union announced Thursday that it will lead its members off the job Sept. 10 if it does not have a new contract. The teachers could walk off the job and abandon their children in 10 days. And for what? Let’s make no mistake.

With the Chicago Teachers’ Union, I will defend my profession White Rhinoceros: I disagreed and disliked the Chicago Teachers’ Union rhetoric and decisions many times over the last 17 years—I’m honest. Central office has disappointed me many times, too. I still don’t agree with everything.

CPS chief Brizard on his way out? Chicago Tribune:  Education and business leaders have told Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard that he’ll be blamed by the mayor for the city ending up on the brink of a teachers strike and he may be on his way out.


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  • Tribune Buzzard may be on his way out (Today's Tribune)..."Community leaders have told CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard that he'll be blamed by the mayor for the teachers strike and he may be on his way out, a high-ranking education source told the Tribune."

    About da*n time!

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    Now Alex....nice set up for the spike my friend. You know better than setting up an argument that it is about 8%. First of all the last 2% of that is tied to merit pay (a whole other argument that I won't get into.) And it is about getting back the 4% that they said they didn;t have the money for - which I think there is plenty of hard evidence that says they did. And coupled with the rise in benefit costs passed onto the employee I think one can make the case that this 8% "raise" almost nets out to zero.

  • In reply to M Wesoloskie:

    Ultimately the union needs to explain how a hefty pay increases (after hefty increases under the last contract during the worst recession since the 1930s) given to the same people doing the same job is going to help improve education in a cash-strapped district.

    I get teachers want more money. Who doesn't? I don't fault the union for fighting for it. But to convince the public, you need to explain how it helps solve a problem rather than making it worse (by making it more expensive for the district to reduce class size and add specialty teachers).

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Salary costs for classroom teachers, other instructional staff , and administrators compose according to the last budget $2,572,441,322 of the $5,162,280,000 operating budget (see page 15 of CPS FY13 budget book). If we add benefits to the salary line we get $3,460,196,905. This composes 67% of the operating budget. In simple terms you still have 33% of the budget to deal with.

    The public at large has no concept of what the CPS budget looks like and for the CTU attempting to explain its positions in relation to wages and benefits relative to the entire budget is far too complex an issue to convince the public about one way or another.

    In terms of PR, CPS will argue wage and benefit demands encroach on improving education, the CTU will argue better paid teachers will attrach more qualified employees. Its a pointless arguement. Besides as I have pointed out there are contractual issues that are not related to salaries and benefits that maybe are more important to the union and on which CPS has not moved at all according to every report I have seen.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I'm glad someone here brings up the so-called permissive topics that CPS can choose to bargain over. I agree that many of these provisions are far more important to the union's leadership and the rank and file than salary. I would gladly freeze my pay for language about class size, prep-time specifics, staffing, and the many others topics that CPS wants to claim "Employer's Authority" over. Even if I don't trust the CPS budget I'd rather head off the massive school actions that are allegedly on their way than get into a fight over our raises. Unfortunately the only way to do this is to fight for unreasonable salary demands to force CPS to open bargaining on the permissible topics. I guess it's not surprising that most people can't see past the salary demands but it's too bad because I agree with Rod that it's not really what is at the heart of this fight.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The bottom line is that teachers were promised a 4% raise this past year that CPS decided not to pay saying they did not have the money. They broke the contract. The sad thing is that they DID have the money. They were able to bribe some schools to go against the contract and start a longer day without a union agreement( in which they gave money to these schools to do this). So they DID indeed have the money for the 4% promised raises. I myself am not a teacher, but I am married to one. They are pushing alot more responsibility onto the teachers. They want to give 2% each year for the next four years, but they also want to stop paying the teachers their steps and lanes!! So in other words the teachers will be taking a pay reduction in turn for doing way more work! This is not right!

  • In reply to fedup:

    Yes, they had the money. Teachers who planned to retire, signed an irrevocable intent to retire form two years ago and based their plans upon the contractual raises are now screwed. They will get a smaller pension because of this deception and they were not allowed to revoke the retirement but CPS can revoke the contract. I want to sue or will CTU and the Pension Board sue?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree, they should be sued. That is so wrong. But then again, alot of what CPS does is wrong, so no suprise there!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    It is not about the money!!!! We cannot discuss length of day, length of year, class size, and many other things. The only way to push those issues since we are disallowed to negotiate them, is to demand more compensation. We want better learning conditions and working conditions. Your children attend class with near 40 children in them sometimes. Your children do not get gym, music, and art. Would you work 2 extra weeks without getting paid for it? Cash strapped district? They choose to direct money to charters which are no better than the regular schools. They chose to give the police the raise we had negotiated. (The police deserve it, but it was designated for another commitment). The union isn't without its problems and errors too but look at how many people have agreed with the teachers. Our children deserve and need a better learning environment. Teachers need that environment to be effective with your children. Conditions should be better, we should be paid for more work, children need to be insolated from politics. Ugh

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Perhaps you don't understand that it is the BOE and Chicago's Administration who have made the choices in curriculum and instruction as well as determining how money has been spent in the school's for over fifteen years? Teachers have been following the mandates of the BOE and each new Administration blames the teachers for the ineptitude that the BOE has instituted. If I were 100% empowered by the BOE to make instructional and curricular choices for my students 100% of the time, I would accept the blame. And I'm sorry, when was the last time you had to donate your own time and money to make sure that you could get your job done? If a student doesn't have school supplies in my class, where do you think they magically appear from? On top of which, the district is expecting more work and increased contributions from my salary to cover their short-sighted spending. Spend some time talking to a teacher and hear the truth instead of what the BOE and mainstream media are putting out there.

  • In reply to M Wesoloskie:

    My delegate said that CPS has not waivered from 2%. Where did 8% come from? Also, reminder...its not about money. Its conditions for your children and our working conditions. We need a safe resourced place to teach effectively.

  • In reply to UghMG:

    8% is the compilation of the 2% each year for 4 years IF teachers agree to a merit pay system.

  • Open Letter to Mayor Emanuel and CEO Brizard

    The toxic environment that exists between the CPS and the CTU is the fault of Alicia Winckler. She is a Huberman holdover who has singlehandedly destroyed the relationship with the CTU, degraded/belittled teachers and principals, and has NO interest in our children. Her focus is to build her own resume and continue to collect her $200,000+.

    Winckler will sink both of you unless you wake up and figure out that she is the reason that negotiations have disintegrated into chaos. Her liberal use of DNH, displacing teachers without regard to contracts, changing the reassigned teacher pool to limit who can get in, and the revolving door in her department are disgraceful. The "Talent Office" is the biggest joke in CPS. Winckler is a lawsuit magnet--everything she does ends up in some kind of litigation--and she doesn't care with more lawsuits on the way. Ask a principal about sub coverage or hiring--they will give you an earful.

    Winckler is an obstructionist and a loser. Want to settle the issues with the Union and prevent a strike, get Alicia Winckler off the negotiating team and out of CPS today. Everyone will thank you and realize that you actually know what is happening at the table. I can assure you that NO ONE will miss her--just ask her staff!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Totally agree. Not only is Winckler overpaid, she has forced dozen of lawsuits, drained the district of a lot of good talent and can't recruit new people to save her life. Friends that have gone through the CPS hiring process the past few years say it the most disorganized of any district they have worked with. Now that we know JCB has left her to negotiate with the CTU, it is clear she needs to go for incompetence and JCB for judgement. Chicago will be better off without them.

  • THINGS CPS STAKEHOLDERS NEED TO KNOW: 1. CEO JC Brizard will take a leave of absence (fired) after the contract (Agreement) is signed between the CTU and the Board of Education. 2. 100 CPS schools will have school actions taken against them in the 2013-2014 school year (i.e.- closings, consolidations, phase outs and turnarounds). 3. 250 more charter schools (non-union) will open in CPS over the next few years. 4. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his billionaire, millionaire friends want a strike so that Rahm can break the CTU and gain national political clout. 5. 145 CPS schools will be open during the strike to babysit students (non-instructional services). Do you know the names of some of these schools? 6. The unions representing the engineers, lunchroom workers and security guards have a sign contract with the Board, therefore, they CANNOT strike and must cross the picket line. 7. CTU members, if you did not hear it from the CTU, it is not true, P.S.- The CTU didn't start this fight, but the CTU will end this fight.

  • RP,

    You have been right so many times in the past, I assume you are getting most of this right too. If so, we are in for a rough ride in Chicago. You have been alluding to the JCB leave of absence for a few weeks. Any more details you can give? Who do you think steps in as CEO?

  • How would a net gain of 150 school solve an over capacity problem?
    Closing 10-20% of schools seems likely. Adding 25 charters in the next few years is a big undertaking. One advantage Chicago has over some cities is that it hasn't filled itself with new schools little different from the old.

  • anniesullivan

    I have never crossed a picket line, ever! Not in Chicago, not in Vegas, not in my lifetime. No one can make you cross a picket line.
    My father was in Division 241 of the Amalgamated Transit Workers
    and his union pay allowed his children to go to college. What kind of union would tell their workers to cross a picket line? Certainly not the stationary engineers local-or SEIU!

  • Okay, RP, your last two points were things said at Thursday's HOD meeting. Were you a fly on the wall?

    I can give you the name of one school to be open for daycare should there be a strike: Taft HS. I'd be surprised if many Taft students show up, but students from nearby HS may also attend. We were told to plan for 30% of enrollment (which would be over 900 kids), but I'm not sure how CO could offer more than a wild guess.

    Any ideas on how to shut it down? Cooks, engineers (who have been threatened with being moved to "the midnight shift" or even another school if they call in sick), and SPED classroom assistants who have already signed contracts with the Board will be required to report, along with the administrators and CO bureaucrats with enough clout to escape being sent to neighborhoods less genteel than Norwood Park. I doubt any of them will be there by choice, so I'm not sure just how vigorously our pickets should be in discouraging them to honor the picket line.

    We'll do informational picketing next Wednesday, hoping to reach parents (although at HS level, more parents send teens to school than take them). I'm trying to line up retired teachers to help with that, and if any retirees living in the area and reading this are interested, please join us at Bryn Mawr & Natoma at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Dear Danny, I was there! I pay my CTU dues as a retired teacher. I pay my dues to RTAC as a retired teacher. I pay my dues to the CPAA as a retired principal. Remember Danny, I was a CTU delegate for over 15 years, even though I retired as a Chicago high school principal. Yes those things were said at the HOD meeting. Danny, I'm at all of the HOD meetings.

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    I agree with RP that it would be unfair to judge workers who are under contract for not violating that contract.

    I do want to emphasize though, that human beings still have choices. Just because the other unions undermined their own members by settling prematurely doesn't mean that they cannot show solidarity with CTU.

    Unions were founded on illegal strikes that helped integrate workplaces, institutionalize a weekend, stop child labor and win many other cornerstones of American democracy.

  • Crossing a genuine picket line makes one a scab.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    There are engineers I am friends with at my school, and unlike the teachers with 25000 unreplacable members, there are city workers that can replace the engineers in a heartbeat. So will I call a 58 year old engineer worker 2 years from retirement a scab for keeping his job and hard earned pension? Hell no. In fact, after the strike I'll still call him friend.

  • In reply to FrankThompson:

    B.S. If all of the engineers refuse to come in/call in sick there will be no buildings to open. There are 600 principals who can call in sick-time for them to grow some....every time we strike the principals scurry across the picket line like little rats...but they get the same raises we do. Stop letting the teachers do the heavy lifting-we are either together for better schools or .....
    A scab is a scab...no excuses....

  • In reply to district299reader:

    No that's not BS, that is fact. The engineers will be fired and replaced the next day. And I won't call them a scab for their own union leadership selling them out. Maybe you will, but that is your own problem.

  • In reply to FrankThompson:

    If anyone calls my engineers a scab in front of me, "brother" or not, they will get some words from me.

  • In reply to FrankThompson:

    SO ARE YOU SAYING THE ENGINEERS DID NOT GET TO VOTE TO SETTLE WITH CPS? Their leaders did...I am not comprehending this...

  • In reply to FrankThompson:

    Ironically the two groups who will lose the highest percentage of jobs on school closing are engineers and principals.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Principals haven't received a raise in almost four years. In fact they took pay cuts last year with they had to take furlough days.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    There's a time and place for radical union action, e.g. widespread unsafe working conditions, exploitation of workers, and violation of civil rights. But, you've got to ask yourself if this is one of those times and places. Do teachers and other workers in schools in danger, like coal miners without safety equipment? Are they being exploited, like factory workers in China making less than 20 cents an hour, and working 70 hours a week? Are their civil rights being violated, like black sanitation workers in 1960s Tennessee?

  • In reply to Paul:

    I think it is precisely because the district administration has tilted the world of Chicago's youth into dangerous chaos and dehumanizing penury that CPS teachers are so nearly unanimous in pushing the union leadership towards a strike. The fact that some parents, such as yourself, don't see it makes it bittersweet. You will never be grateful for what teachers are doing in risking so much to stop the policy-driven train wreck. But you will reap the benefits.

  • In reply to chicago:

    What's realistically up for negotiation that will "stop the policy-driven train wreck"?

  • In reply to Donn:

    What teachers are hoping for is that our union is not so much negotiating but maneuvering in a way that results in flexibility at the school level. Your question implies that these negotiations should result in rigid policies--things that are "up for negotiation" by important people and then, once committed to paper as policies, are to be applied cheerfully and effectively on down the food chain, finally landing on the students. That's the policy-driven train-wreck.

    The reason why teachers are pushing the union leadership to the brink of a strike is not so much that there are specific policies we would like to to result from the negotiations (although there are some), but there are specific actions that we would like taken in order to make it possible for us to do our jobs.

    There are a number of non-contracted things the Mayor could do in order to defuse enthusiasm for a strike and end up with a more affordable contract. The easy things include replacing Brizard with someone more like Mazany, less divisive and less cynical. More substantially, the longer school day implementation at the high school level is a joke. Schools are forced to spend money they don't have on extra classes for which there is no quality control and which students don't want. There is neither the staff nor the funds to make them worthwhile.

    To take examples of teachers I know, class sizes have been increased in one school by 40%, teacher workloads are now increased by two additional preps, and the result is predictably a watering down of teaching and the virtual elimination of individual instruction.

    A plethora of widely-publicized but half-baked administrative decrees have been issued by people sharing your view of how things get done. None of the initiatives of the current administration should have been rolled out this fast, with this little support or planning. Everything, from the REACH evaluation system (7hours of powerpoints read verbatim = professional development) to the longer day has been done in the most indifferent and incompetent manner.
    Principals are not only faced with increasing and increasingly odious paperwork requirements as central office staff are cut and network decrees are multiplied, but they are now responsible for 100s of hours of instructional leadership connected to REACH. However much there may be helpful stuff in the district's new initiatives, it's wasted.

    As we move to a basically test-prep curriculum that is ill-suited to the needs and learning styles of most of our student population (especially at the high and low ends), school staff are being cut, support services that address the needs of the most challenged students are being eliminated, and there is a sense of chaos at the school level.

    None of this answers your question, and that is exactly the problem. I am guessing that you work in some City capacity that makes you a partisan of the current administration. Your view is a policy view. As someone who has served on a number of boards, I've experienced policy done well and policy done badly. The good type empowers well-intentioned employees to be successful at meeting the organization's goals. The bad type undermines everyone who is subject to the policy and places obstacles in the way of the very policies that are being promulgated.

    The crux of this dispute, at least for those teachers who are most confident in their skills and most committed to the work, is not really the policies in themselves, but the incompetence of the leadership in rolling out and representing the policies. There is, therefore, a widespread conviction among the best teachers that the administration is not serious about school reform. That's the message from the unprecedented extra 50% of teachers who voted to authorize a strike. For now, I'm not exactly sure why, the Mayor has the luxury of not being asked by the media to prove that he's serious. They are happy with the fact that he is demanding things and generally happy to go along with the Mayor's policy of blaming teachers for the failures of Chicago schools. But the teachers are the canary in the political coalmine I think, and eventually bluster and mere policy is not going to be enough to get him off the hook when things really go wrong.

  • In reply to donald:

    amen x 2! We spent the entire week (track R) in PD's that were related to nwea, reach, teacher assessment and criteria for a unsatisfactory rating. Our (interim) Principal will have the school open sat, sun and Labor day because NO one was able to work in their classrooms for the week.
    On top of that, we do not have enough books for the(expected) much larger classrooms on Sept 4th or the computers/bandwidth to complete the nwea in the next 2 weeks.
    This is a very bad joke.

  • In reply to donald:

    The CTU wants to manage the system through contract, which horrifies many people. Look at the complaints about class size, yet look at what the CTU does when CPS tries to close a school. Look at how CTU pays george at substance so that many CTU members can pretend that there really aren't finite resources. That all expeditures are tradeoffs. Many in the CTU have intellectually taken a childs way out of facing extremely serious problems.

    What CPS seems to be doing is implementing phase one of a major restructuring. In the next phase, by "right sizing" the system, resources are freed up to meet more real needs. It's likely the board agrees with many of the specific complaints related to conditions of the schools and management of students.

    The unknown is if CPS has given up on CPS ever being a manageable system. If they have, then they really could have a ten year plan of 250 charters.
    From the inside it's easy to view the issues as a contest of ideas and competencies; managers versus the union. From the outside the system looks like just a really bad way to organize effective schools.
    Many teachers immediately assign the mayor and anyone else who arrives the role of insider managers. But while Rahm is accountable, he's not responsible for the overall poor condition of CPS. Failing to understand the obvious points such as this may cost ultimately CTU thousands of jobs.

  • In reply to donald:

    unknown teacher, now take what you have described and think of how this played out for the Track E schools. OMG it is a mess beyond a mess. We found out our bell schedule two days before school opened. Two days. We now sit with each of our classes for 108 minutes! I have managed to break out my activities into 20 minute increments to try to break up the monotony. My freshmen seem okay with it, but my sophomores are already talking about the day they can quit school. No joke. I am trying my best to show them it can be done, but it has been a nightmare coming up with 5 different activities that are cohesive and meaningful every single day for one subject.

  • In reply to donald:

    Donn: Your message (below?) isn't totally clear to me, and there is a lot of insider jargon and name-dropping that I can't follow, but I think you are either repeating or pointing out a sad truth that has characterized Chicago school reform since our last Mayor first took it up: that is, you can't improve anything if you start from the premise that it is failing. Eventually, you are going to have to kill the thing for the simple reason that you can never transition from the language of failure to the language of success.

    The idea that charters are going to solve the problem is a joke. Charters do not even try to educate the most difficult students in CPS. They don't do special ed, they don't do behavior disorders, they don't do kids with one foot in the grave of gang-banging. Period. Feeble-minded propaganda aside, the hard truth is that the public interest in charters comes down to the property-tax base. If you force middle class minority families to send their kids to neighborhood public schools when they can't get into magnets, you will force them to move to the suburbs. And, from the point of view of these families, the problem with neighborhood schools isn't the teachers; it is the bad kids. Charters ONLY serve the tax base when they exclude the bad kids. Anyone who doesn't acknowledge this isn't a serious participant in this discussion. It's not politically acceptable to say things like this, so we hear "no child left behind" pablum from the Mayor and his people; but that's the reality.

    So, while the city does have an interest in expanding school choice (i.e., selective enrollments, charter schools, and (eventually) virtual (aka home) schools, it has a second problem on its hands. This has to do with the estimated 20-30% (and rising, as the good kids drift away from nbrhd schools) of students ear-marked for, if not actually attending, CPS schools who either need or are beyond the reach of intensive social, medical, economic, law-enforcement, and other services.

    You say "The unknown is if CPS has given up on CPS ever being a manageable system. If they have, then they really could have a ten year plan of 250 charters." The problem is that if CPS has a plan for replacing most public schools with charters, it is from the outset a plan that involves something like massive segregation and incarceration of kids who can't make it in charter schools. That's why nothing galls a real teacher like hearing charter-schools advocates tearfully or righteously invoke "the children" to promote and defend their work. It's the taxes, not the children. Not bad, just different. A little honesty, or at least humility, would be in order on the part of people who are unwilling to get in the same classroom with those young people who present the greatest challenge to schools and educators.

    CTU represents a different viewpoint. This is not the place to go into the whole thing, but suffice it to say that the principle for which CPS teachers stand is the principle, undermined relentlessly by mayorally controlled school reform for two decades now, of integration. I wouldn't say that there are no stains on the union's record; however, those are generally all the result of politicians basically using carrot and stick tactics around money to stop teachers from making noise about problems in schools. Teachers being human and perhaps a little lacking in assertiveness, we have accepted a few rather embarrassingly meager but generally livable raises in exchange for our moral compass as a union. Be that as it may, the policies of city hall are no more likely to solve the problems of education today than they were 20 years ago. And if those policies involve trying to write off a quarter of the young people in this city, I don't frankly see the glory or the promise. Even if I do see the threat. 250 charters is nothing more nor less than the destruction of the teaching profession and its replacement by burn-out mills for cheap college grads. Call it like it is, buddy.

  • In reply to Donn:

    7 wounded in overnight shootings, including 2 near United Center

  • In reply to Paul:

    Paul, yes, there is serious age and race discrimination going on at CPS.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Is that what teachers are threatening a strike for, age and race discrimination? I haven't heard that from the union?

  • In reply to Paul:

    Chicago Shootings: 10 Shot Overnight, Rahm Emanuel Announces Federal Help Coming.

  • In reply to Paul:

    Really? Well have you heard of merit pay? Because that's what that will be, principals playing favorites and discriminating against teachers because of age and/or race!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    If you ask me, principals are the ones that need to be on merit pay! I've worked at three schools, and at all three the principals relinquished all duties to the AP's. Of course the actual principals spent all their time attending meetings, schmoozing with the parents, and going out to long lunches with their favorite staff and/or LSC members during school hours.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I love the idea of merit pay but in the hands of some of the unscrupulous principals in CPS it would be a disaster.

    AREA 5 has a principal who is slowly ridding the staff of anyone who is not a Muslim.

    AREA 5 has a principal who is quickly ridding the staff of any teacher who was there before him.

    HIgh staff turnover rate is a telling indicator of principal abuse but CPS does nothing and sometimes will move these inept principals to higher positions which is very demoralizing to the majority of principals who try to do their best

    These inept principals award monetary items to their favorites (usually the weaker teachers who either don't care enough to complain about issues affecting the students or will not complain because they are doing things they would be written up for in another school)

    Things such as:

    allowing them to leave early/come in late
    allowing them to sit on committees and be paid while other teachers are not paid
    making them mentor teachers/teacher leaders -pay involved
    giving them all of the materials they ask for while other teachers receive nothing
    assigning them the high groups or assigning them groups without SPED or never putting the child with an outspoken parent in their room
    singing their praises at staff meetings
    giving them the prep times they ask for
    The list could go on and on but it does make you wonder if these teachers who go along with unequal staff treatment play favorites with the students.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Merit pay is a BAD IDEA!

    First of all, if you read the literature, there are no studies showing that it has ever worked.

    CPS would never put extra money into a merit pay plan. This means that for each teacher who earned extra money, there would be someone else losing money.

    What incentive would there be for strong teachers to work with the most challenging and needy students or even to collaborate and share ideas and resources with colleagues if everyone is being pitted against each other to compete for money? Instead, there would be a huge incentive created for more even more teaching to the test and also for cheating!

    Yes, principals playing favorites would be a problem too. Not to mention how utterly insulting the whole idea is. I work hard for my students because I want to help them succeed, not because of some carrot that might be dangled in front of me!!

    CTU needs to stay strong and resist the inclusion of merit pay in the new contract!!!!

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    In reply to Paul:

    That's what the recall dispute is over. It's so that when people are fired by this district over and over for being too strong advocates for students, being too non-white, too experience, or just too damn good of a teacher, they can still get a job and feed their families.

    It's an imperfect solution--the real solution would be to immediately fire the bureaucrat who is disrupting the educational process--but it still keeps good teachers in the system, and in front of students of need.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    Speaking of Bureaucrats, here comes Barbara Byrd Bennett: Paid for by Corporate Club

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    Parents of children with disabilities are constantly being told that services for their child are 1. not available, 2. not needed so the IEP will be revised or 3. we don't do that in CPS

    This is in response to SW services, speech-language ( usually dismissed after three years-must be a miracle program) or one to one aides-every child that I had transfer into my program had their services reduced and every child who transferred to the suburbs had their services increased. I argued, pleaded and dissented at the IEP meetings. I brought it up to ISBE and CTU and got nowhere because ONLY the parent can file due process. Actually, I was retaliated against by a money grubbing case manager who was in the principal's pocket. The joke did end up on them when they were exposed by the LSC. SPED is in sad shape and the following article about the new head of specialized services does not inspire confidence.

  • In reply to Paul:

    Jalen Stogner, Chicago Teen, Fatally Shot In Front Of His Mother Outside Laundromat

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You are misinformed about principals: They have NOT received the raises that teachers have received for the last three years. It is unlikely that they will receive any increases that CTU negotiates. There is NOT a union that represents principals. There IS an association with NO negotiating authority. Principals are contractual employees, and have been let go in the past for less significant 'offenses'. They have no choice, but to report to work....Engineers are an altogether different case, however. I hope that the differences are resolved in a good, fair teacher contract.

  • In reply to FrankThompson:

    Dear Frank.
    in January 1980 we faced just such a situation.Some engineers
    were granted waivers by the CTU and their union to cross
    our picket line so the pipes in the schools will not freeze.
    As the strike ended two district engineers who refused to cross the
    line were threatened with punishment.Bob Healy told the board
    if they were we would continue to strike,problem solved.
    the CTU is a recognized union if we strike our picket line
    will be a legal part of our job action.
    Any union member who crosses the line is a scab.
    No matter if they are nfg"s or about to retire.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    For CTU members, sure, but engineers are part of a seperate union that has a contract with CPS. Were Conan O'Brian and David Letterman scabs when they did their late night shows during the writers strike 5 years ago? Nope. Because they were performing their contractual duties.

  • In reply to FrankThompson:

    Bad example.If the carpenters are on strike no other
    trades will cross a legal picket line.Were the actors
    union members or management?
    in the 1980's the Chicago Fire department went on strike.
    They did not picket the schools.But till this day those who
    crossed the line are held in contempt and disgust .
    Even now you will sometimes see a note in a Fireman's
    obituary that reads Brotherhood of the barrel only.
    and that was thirty years ago.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    The performers were part of a seperate union. So if one union is the same as every other union, and we are all union brothers, do I need to call in sick every time a union in the USA goes on strike? And anyone who mentions a person being a scab in an obituary is an a$$hole and deserves a sock in the face.

  • In reply to FrankThompson:


    Please read the explanation for the term "Brotherhood of the Barrel"

  • CPS CHIEF BRIZARD IS ON HIS WAY OUT! Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard days are numbered. Brizard's management style was criticized by the Chicago Board of Education in his annual evaluation. The Board gave Brizard low marks for the way he communicates and runs CPS. "The organizantional effectiveness of CPS could be substantially improved with more coherent and decisive management decision-making process," board President David Vitale wrote in a June 11 letter to Brizard that accompanied Brizard's performance review. In Brizard's performance review, the school board rated Brizard as "inconsistenly meets" expectations for management of human resources and talent and communications and collaboration. "His staff (Brizard's) are not sure what they are doing nor who's responsible to whom in most cases," the assessment reads. central office employees often complain they don't know who runs CPS. Mayor Rahm Emanuel runs CPS! Overall, the Board wrote, Brizard's overall organizational performance has not been optimal." The Board also complained about not being well used. Brizard also has drawn fire for high turnover in both cabinet-level positions and department heads. The chief education officer resigned in April (fired) on the heels of two other cabinet-level departments and many lower level departures. When CPS hired CEO JC Brizard, they gave him a two-year contract at $250,000 a year. The contract expires next May and if Brizard doesn't step down, he will be fired!

  • Headache299
    I would hardly call it a victory. Brizard was hired to do exactly what they are now criticizing him for. He was also hired to be the fall guy. If he is forced to step down, it will be merely symbolic. His replacement will be tasked with completing the damage, and will likely be paid $270,000.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Will the parents you keep from day care be mad at CPS or mad at CTU?

  • Don't be dumb Donn. They'll be mad at CPS, DUH!

    C'mon, Emanuel has misunderstood Chicago at every turn. The neighborhoods and communities understand the deal. They know teachers are not to blame. Parents have come out in support of teachers. All CPS has is astroturf and paid-off pastors.

    Writing is on the wall... and on the blog. Your efforts are for naught.

  • A 15-year-old girl walking home from school was shot in the abdomen Friday morning in the West Garfield Park

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Is this an education blog or a crime blog? And if this is the same person posting all these articles, I sure hope you and single because if you are married with kids you sure spend a lot more time readin and posting articles than you do with your family. Just saying.

  • In reply to FrankThompson:

    Under Emanuel, Education in Chicago IS a crime. If the hemispheres of your brain were even slightly attached, you might have seen the connection

    Mayor Emanuel defends Chicago’s handling of shooting sprees

  • Carlin might have included the names Rahm and Claude

  • Quiet support of the CTU by principals and assistants is the same as a vote of no confidence in CEO Brizard. He and Gerng have made a horrible mess of things--wait until the first child of many is injured with their contingency plan.

  • There's something to a rumor when it leaks out as front page news. Stay tuned. A resignation is cleaner than a firing. It will be interesting what schools will be opened and who will be in front of students. Also, I wonder if picketers will encounter staff entering buildings. It could be ugly.

  • Really. A strike? Emanuel would permit a strike due to CPS management hardline on the eve of this Presidential election? If he does, he's taking his Obama down.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Are you kidding? Best scenario for Obama would be Rahm allowing teachers to strike. Centrist Republicons might switch parties when seeing union busting. Who'd Obama lose leftist votes to??

  • In reply to district299reader:

    As much as I like the idea that Chicago is the center of the universe, a teachers' strike has no national implications. Obama can't lose Illinois, and no one will blame or credit Obama for what happens here.

  • http://www.npr.org/2012/09/01/160401996/whats-a-charter-school-if-not-a-game-changer

    With teachers choosing to be on the sidelines, Sundin says the charter school movement was eventually hijacked by organizations intent on destroying unions, making money — or both.

    "There's been a well-funded attack on public school educators by folks who don't want public education to exist, would rather it be privatized for profit," she says.

    Joe Nathan disagrees that there is such an attack. He's been advising governors and state lawmakers on school-choice legislation since the 1980s. If there was a "right wing" conspiracy, Nathan says, why would President Obama, Bill Clinton and many in the civil rights community support charters?

    "It's far beyond a left or right or a Democrat or Republican idea. It's an American idea ... and I think that's so fundamental to understanding why this idea has taken off," he says. "It strikes people as fair — as reasonable — that groups of parents and teachers be allowed to create new kinds of public schools, open to all kinds of kids."

    Nathan heads the Center for School Change in Minneapolis, which receives millions of dollars from corporations, foundations and advocates of school choice. And yes, he says, the money that has flowed to charter schools has attracted a few bad, greedy people.

    "There flat-out are some crooks — people over the last 20 years who've made terrible, illegal use of money," Nathan says. "We need to do a better job dealing with the crooks and charlatans, of which we certainly in this movement have our share."

  • Schools in Holland, which is one of the most socialist and unionized countries in the world, are about 65% charter schools. All teachers, "neighborhood" or charter belong to unions. All high school education is all "selective enrollment" based on ability level. From the wiki:

    "Education in the Netherlands is characterized by division: education is oriented toward the needs and background of the pupil. Education is divided over schools for different age groups, some of which are divided in streams for different educational levels. Schools are furthermore divided in public, special (religious), and general-special (neutral) schools,[1].....
    The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, ranks the education in the Netherlands as the 9th best in the world as of 2008, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[2]"

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Netherlands

  • Investors Seek to Profit From Privatizing Public Schools

  • Page 102 of the contract

    44-3. “No teacher shall be required to perform such custodial duties as emptying trash, dusting erasers, washing boards, dusting or placing chairs on desks or returning furniture to its proper place.”

    Any teachers out there who had to move thirty student desks and chairs out of one room into another, and then move another set of thirty student desks and chairs from across the hall or three flights of stairs? Any teachers out there who had to wash out filthy boards, chairs, desks, and cabinets?

    Page 20

    4-17. Textbook committees for language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and special education composed of teachers elected by their peers shall be established in each elementary school. The textbook committees shall present written recommendations to the principal concerning the purchase of textbooks and instructional materials in each subject.

    Any teachers out there who had any say whatsoever in textbook selection?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Uh, I have cleaned up vomit and diarrhea more times than I can count.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Only two 1/2 hours allocated to get classrooms in order at my school. Some teachers have three classrooms. Custodians are overworked. No boards or desks were cleaned. 90% moved their own furniture.

    Our principal has so far not allocated any money for textbooks.

  • City Colleges Approved New Contract

    Wow, what a terrible deal!
    - No Raise the 1st year
    - Performance-based pay
    - No Steps
    - No Lanes
    - Increase in Employee Benefit Contributions
    They signed this piece of crap 10 months early?!!
    You know this is going to put public pressure on CTU. With this in his pocket, Emanuel now feels free to go to the DNC.

  • If you think this is coming from principals--you are wrong. (Principals do get fired--look at the monthly Board Report.)
    If principals were allowed to vote without reprisal; it would be one of ‘no confidence' from them and assistant principals regarding CEO Brizard.
    The CEO has taped the mouth of the president of CPAA -she is purposefully ignored. She was not invited to the BIG meeting downtown last week regarding the 140 contingency schools.
    Principals have begged for more time on teacher evaluation, not just for teachers but for principals and assistant principals to learn it right- for REACH and for the entire horrible testing taking place this year. Why not give this time to learn it?—CTU will have plenty to grieve because of the mismanaged way it is being thrown on us now.
    (Just look at all the assessment questions from principals asked of Dr. Cheathum that Substance published online. Did anyone get fired, demoted or removed for this? No!) When CPS documents state: optional, CO comes along and makes it required. When it was stated testing for grades 3-8, they change it to add prek-k-1-2 as well. CO says they ask principals--principals have asked 'name who you ask?' No answer. (Those principals have some explaining to do to their colleagues or they were ignored too.)
    CEO and his upper CO staff are unprepared, unknowing, refuse to listen to reason or facts and too often, send out conflicting information in writing. Key departments do not get along and within themselves, argue with or ignore each other. The CEO has allowed the upper CO to become tea-partyish in their goals and deeds. Either the destruction of the neighborhood schools is by their design, incompetence or both.
    This is why CTU must fight and parents must participate with them. This incompetence effects us ALL.

  • Join the labor rally tomorrow!

    10:30 A.M. at Daley Plaza!

    Be a part of history!

  • Everyone,

    Please take time to read the op-ed piece from Sunday's Tribune (of all places) entitled "Schools chief Brizard, the mayor's human shield."
    It's a great piece that calls out Emmanuel for covering the truth (originally published by the Trib) that he will indeed can JC for ineffective leadership. Can't wait the 2 1/2 years until the voters of this city do the same to Rahm, and for exactly the same reasons.

  • fb_avatar

    Brizard knew what a frontman was when he took the job. He didn't pick his own team. It was handed to him, like his $250,000-a-year contract, which he must have known was payment for what was to come.Still, Brizard could have led. But by most accounts, he hasn't. And it's an open secret in Chicago, among aldermen and on the fifth floor of City Hall, that Emanuel has profound regrets. What made it worse was Brizard's bizarre decision to take a more than two-week vacation in July, at a time when he should have been uniting parents and community groups against the teacher demands. His absence astounded Emanuel. The charade that the mayor still has confidence in Brizard was forced by an excellent, detailed front-page Tribune story. The gist? That Brizard had been told by business and political insiders he may be on his way out for poor performance.

  • Dear Dr. Byrd-Bennett: We are getting a lot of feedback from teachers concerning the overwhelming amount of testing and progress monitoring they are required to do. While each of the assessments may have merit, taken as a whole they leave too little time for instruction. Teachers throughout the district are asking "When do we have time to teach?" In addition to the regular curriculum, students are assessed using the Star Math and Star Reading programs. They work on individualized lessons and assessments through Accelerated Math and Accelerated Reading. Three times per year students take a battery of benchmark assessments including up to five Dibels assessments, Burst, and TRC. Throw in quarterly Q tests that take two class periods per day for four days each quarter, and two to three weeks of MEAP testing, and it's no wonder teachers want more time to teach. In between benchmarks, teachers are asked to print up to 80 pages of Burst lessons every two weeks. These lessons are to be taught to the lowest achieving four to five students in each class for a half hour per day. Some schools don't have enough toner to print these lessons, others don't have enough copiers, and nobody seems to have enough time. One teacher estimates that a quarter of her instructional time is devoted to these assessments and progress monitoring. On a weekly basis, teachers also are asked to do time-consuming progress monitoring for Dibels and TRC. Much if this work is done with one student at a time. While our teachers are doing their best to keep the rest of the class doing meaningful work, it is not possible to p
    Two common themes emerge from discussions with teachers throughout the district. First, these assessments all have some merit individually, but together, they are too much. Second, we as teachers can handle all this, but our students are suffering. One teacher told me that for one day, she ignored Burst, Dibels, TRC, Accelerated Math and Reading, and all she did was teach. It was the best day the class had all year! The saddest thing is, this didn't happen until the third week of October, and she had to ignore directives to make it happen at all. To bring more balance to the classroom, we suggest that the district strongly consider the following changes. 1. Eliminate the Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 benchmark tests. These tests are not aligned with the district's scope and sequence charts. Students are taking tests in November on material that won't be covered until March. As a result, there is no validity to these tests.Our teachers have seen tests designed by and for DPS every few years. From Exit Skills, to ESAT, to MIP, to Q tests, the tests come and go and you would be hard pressed to find a teacher who will claim instruction has improved as a result of any one of these. 2. Allow teachers to use their professional judgment to determine the amount of progress monitoring to do. Progress monitoring in TRC is particularly difficult, since the text in the Palm devices frequently does not match the text in the books students are reading.
    3. Discontinue Burst groups. The lower achieving students can be helped in the regular classroom setting. 4. Provide additional personnel to help with assessments. Whether the district allows literacy coaches to do some of the assessments or provides classroom aides to assist with class management, more help is needed to keep all children learning. We know that standardized testing is here to stay. To improve our scores, we need more instructional time, not more tests. Sincerely, Mark O'Keefe, DFT Executive Vice President

  • Amen! I'm Track E and the first 3 weeks of school have been dominated by REACH, Dibels, TRC, MCLASS, and NWEA/MAP. I can't wait for this madness to end so I can finally start to teach, even if it'll only be for a few months before the next round of testing begins.

  • I agree 100%, the Reach assessments are brutal. The MAP tests had so many glitches the test itself should not be valid for my students. In addItion we have network assessments in reading, then in Math, it goes on and on and on. We take network reading assessments that are so poorly written the kids actually are telling me the exams stink. The answer keys are off, some questions have more than one answer, unbeknownst to those in the network mandating we give this invalid test. Funny thing is RIGOR is the big buzzword, but the tests we were giving our students previously were way more rigorous than what we give now.

    Just like Brizard got a horrible evaluation, and what I said about the level of rigor with my network, it is ironic that this new evaluation system would be so rigid for us educators. If we did that poorly at our jobs we would be gone with this group of adminstrators. Not the same level of accountability now is it? This is what part of this battle is about. The rollout of CCSS has been a disaster yet we are being evaluated on this brand new entity and many jobs will depend on these standards and the MAP test and the REACH assessments, also brand new. Is this in the best interest of the kids? We know the answer to that question.

    We are nothing more than a test prep factory under Rahmbo. Anytime left over for instruction is for test prep for the next assessment. We know what is right for our students, it is high time those at CPS see the light.

  • In reply to katniss:

    I honestly think that this whole new evaluation is a trap. They are making the standards alot harder for the kids and they know alot of the kids are going to bomb on it. That way they can blame the teachers and fire the ones they want ( senior teachers who are paid more for instance). Under this new evaluation which is absolutely ridiculous, not many teachers will reach an excellent mark and will be lucky to get a satisfactory! How the heck can they make a teacher responsible for how EVERY kid does on a test??? What if that kid is having a bad day or did not sleep well the night before? What if there are probelms going on in the home that make it hard for a kid to concentrate on a test?? The teacher is going to take the fall! I think this is all part of the plan that they have with the new evaluation system. It's set up for failure!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to fedup:

    Even if students/teachers make satisfactory levels - CPS will just raise them simply to reduce payroll.

    CPS (ehhhemmm....I mean Rham) will get his way eventually. He will reduce payrolls. That doesn't mean that we shouldn;t go down without a fight. Rham understands that this strike is only the first battle - he will continue to push privatization for many years to come.

  • In reply to fedup:

    dear Fedup

    Your story is accurate as it is written.But there is a lot more
    to the reality, of school politics.
    A few years ago our school got a TFA FNG He was a nice kid
    but he got two AP classes and two IB classes his first
    year without so much as one minute of teaching experience.
    If pay was based on test scores he would make out like a
    In October 1969 I was riffed from CVS to Bowen.My classes
    were two basic level classes,one normal class, and two
    classes made up of students other teachers cast offs.
    I would have starved.Under this new system a principal
    can crush someone just by telling the programmer to screw
    him.That is what I don't like about the new system.

    PS Dist 299 etc.Forgetting to hit the space bar is not
    worth the ink it takes to write about it, please get a life.

  • In reply to rbusch:


    I totally agree with you. This new program certainly does suck and is wrong on so many levels! They need to get a system in place that is fair to the teachers, but I am not holding my breath.....

  • In reply to rbusch:

    No one "forgot" to hit the space bar, not when it's a repeat error. But who am I to argue, as a non-educator, that grammar and spelling are important skills that teachers should be capable of passing on to students!

    But beyond spelling, I'd say that a basic understanding of what value-added evaluations are is probably important if you're going to debate it.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The whole value added technique is ridiculously unreliable! For example: Lets say a class has 100% exceeding on the standards. Well the teacher that has these same kids the following year will have to make sure these kids get higher than 100% exceeding,( which is obviously not possible!). Yet thanks to value added, this teacher will get a score of "0" since his/her students did not show progress!! This has happened already to some teachers. If you look up and research the value added technique, you will find that there has been research on it stating that it was found to be " not reliable" in terms of use for evaluating.

    As far as my spelling mistakes, honestly, if that is your big worry, then you have way too much time on your hands my friend!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Dear Dist 299.

    I thought you wrote you were a teacher?
    My students like to shoot each other,well the boys do,
    the girls like to scalp each other on the CTA.bus.
    that is the reality of the South Side.

    Over and Out

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Ugh... did you ever consider that a retiree may be using adaptive equipment/software? I'm not certain, but I suspect you're bullying someone who is using said technology. The grammatical errors are too consistent.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Thank god gatekeepers can no longer control education.
    Implying people are illiterate in order to cast their ideas
    aside went out with the Edsel,or about 1960.
    As far as bullying you need only to look in the mirror.
    Instead of trying to deflect the comments i wrote.
    Let me restate my question.Have you written that you
    are a teacher?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Seriously, Yeah, I made a spelling error, SO WHAT!! I am not writing an essay for goodness sake!!! I am NOT even a teacher!! You seriously need to get over it! I am sure you yourself have made a ton of spelling error's at some point during your adult life! As a teacher( if you are a teacher), you should know that everyone makes mistakes!!

  • I don't know, I don't think it's so bad. I guess I believe kids deserve teachers who know how to spell "a lot" and understand the concept of averages.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    First off, I am not a teacher, and yes, I did make a mistake with my spelling, forgive me. I guess you have never made a mistake huh???? I do happen to be married to a teacher who works his butt off though as do many other teachers out there, yet they are being walked all over!! I also am a parent and I am not happy with what CPS is doing. They are making a mess of the whole school system! If things keep going the way they are, no doubt our school system will be just like the Detroit school system! All the good teachers are going to leave over the next few years, wait and see. I mean with this new evaluation which sets teachers up to fail, a lot of the good teachers who teach our kids are either going to get unjustly fired or just get fed up and leave. Then where will that leave our kids?? This system is just so corrupt it stinks! I keep reading in the papers that a lot of parents and teachers are pushing for an Elected school board. I think this would be a very good idea. We need to seperate politics and education before it is too late!

  • In reply to fedup:

    How is having an elected school board separating education from politics? Aren't elections political by definition?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I mean, if you want to get politics out of schools, I suppose you could establish mayoral control, create an unelected school board, get rid of unions and collective bargaining rights, and switch over to a charter school model. Politics gone! Oh wait...

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Ok, let me be more clear; we need to have a school board that is not run by the mayor or any other big political figure!! Hopefully a group of people who have knowledge regarding education and teaching!! Wouldn't that be a breath of fresh air for once in Chicago!!!!!!

  • In reply to fedup:

    yes! let's put experts in charge! have a real meritocracy for once! not just the same old corrupt popularity contests that democratic governance demands, what with its mayors and aldermen and interest groups getting in the way! i mean, these elected officials don't even have experience with accounting, teaching, engineering, law enforcement, garbage collection, flying airplanes, and yet we let them run streets and san, finance departments, cps, cpd, buildings, aviation, or cta?!?!? no, we need a board of experts that is insulated from petty interest group demands and knows what it's doing through first-hand experience! and i have the perfect solution for deciding who is qualified enough to serve, at least for the education board: former teachers with the best value-added scores! or, harvard and yale grads from TFA with impeccable college transcripts since they're obviously the cream of the teaching crop. great, it's settled!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Public education is by definition political. Public finds are used. I prefer an appointed board and I'll hold the mayor responsible.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    You are a certified idiot

  • You are right. Teachers will leave and the sharper ones will not even apply. We are already a training ground for special education teachers who leave in droves.

    Three thousand veteran teachers retired this year. This is not mentioned as far as savings to the board. The average teacher salary in Chicago is now lower-not mentioned either.

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