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philnotfil
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Lots of stuff worth reading, but this bit was distressing.

salon.com

quote:
School districts across the state of Pennsylvania are financially troubled due to chronic state underfunding – only 36 percent of K-12 revenue comes from the state, way below national averages – and massive budget cuts imposed by Republican Governor Tom Corbett (the state funds education less than it did in 2008).

The state cuts seemed to have been intentionally targeted to hit high-poverty school districts like York City the hardest. After combing through state financial records, a report from the state’s school employee union found, “State funding cuts to the most impoverished school districts averaged more than three times the size of the cuts for districts with the lowest average child poverty.” The unsurprising results of these cuts has been that in school districts serving low income kids, like York, instruction was cut and scores on state student assessments declined.

The York City district was exceptionally strapped, having been hit by $8.4 million in cuts, which prompted class size increases and teacher furloughs. Due to financial difficulties, which the state legislature and Governor Corbett had by-and-large engineered, York was targeted in 2012, along with three other districts, for state takeover by an unelected “recovery official,” eerily similar to New Orleans post-Katrina.

The “recovery” process for York schools also entailed a “transformation model” with challenging financial and academic targets the district had little chance in reaching, and charter school conversion as a consequence of failure. Now the local school board is being forced to pick a charter provider and make their district the first in the state to hand over the education of all its children to a corporation that will call all the shots and give York’s citizens very little say in how their children’s schools are run.

None of this is happening with the negotiated consent of the citizens of York. The voices of York citizens that have been absent from the bargaining tables are being heard in the streets and in school board meetings. According to a local news outlet, at a recent protest before the city’s school board, “a district teacher and father of three students … presented the board with more than 3,700 signatures of people opposed to a possible conversion of district schools to charter schools,” and “a student at the high school also presented the board with a petition signed by more than 260 students opposed to charter conversion.” Yet the state official demanding charter takeover remains completely unaltered in his view that this action is “what’s best for our kids.”


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Grant
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Questions:

1. Just how much money, before the state cuts, was the budget for York City school district? How much money per student were they getting? How does it compare with the national average? How does student achievement compare to other school districts with similar budgets per student?

2. When did cuts begin? When did scores on state student assessments begin to decline?

3. What are the financial difficulties that Governor Corbett and the state legislature engineered? What are the causes?

4. Is there a hypothetical point where the responsibility for education should be taken away from local authority, due to lack of success, and given to some other authority? Like Detroit for example.

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philnotfil
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Did you read the information in any of the nine links in those five paragraphs?
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Grant
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I only saw one link. I did not read the article. Are all the answers there?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Is there a hypothetical point where the responsibility for education should be taken away from local authority, due to lack of success, and given to some other authority?
Never private authority.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Never private authority.

Are the charter schools not answerable to anyone? I imagined that charter schools would be held accountable by the state for their progress or lack of progress. They are under contract, are they not? They are supposedly also under market pressure to perform, though the amount of pressure obviously depends on the quality of choice involved.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Are the charter schools not answerable to anyone?
Not really, no, they're not. In theory they are, but in reality they're just "regular" schools with more private money available for legal defense and bribes. The idea that the private sector is more accountable and more responsive than the public sector is one that's regularly disproved every time some previously public utility or service is privatized.

quote:
They are supposedly also under market pressure to perform, though the amount of pressure obviously depends on the quality of choice involved.
The idea that "market pressure" applies to grade school education is a conservative shibboleth.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
The idea that "market pressure" applies to grade school education is a conservative shibboleth.

As independent public schools, charter schools have the ability to try innovative approaches to teaching and learning in the classroom. This flexibility comes with high standards and accountability. Charter schools must demonstrate that all their students are progressing toward academic excellence. Those that do not measure up can be shut down. And those that are successful can provide effective approaches for the broader public education system.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
This flexibility comes with high standards and accountability.
No. This flexibility comes with the assertion of high standards and accountability. When was the last time you saw a charter school being held accountable for anything?
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PSRT
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What does it mean to hold a schhol accountable? How does this benefit the students enrolled at that school?
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
No. This flexibility comes with the assertion of high standards and accountability. When was the last time you saw a charter school being held accountable for anything?

Sorry, was just quoting the President:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/02/presidential-proclamation-national-charter-schools-week-2014

quote:
This flexibility comes with high standards and accountability; charter schools must demonstrate that all their students are progressing toward academic excellence. Those that do not measure up can be shut down.
That's from whomever writes for President Obama. Chief conservative.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/03/arne-duncan-praises-slaps-charter-schools/

From the lips of Sec Arne Duncan, another conservative.

quote:
In the last two decades, charter schools have had some extraordinary accomplishments. Topping the list of those extraordinary accomplishments is that high-performing charters have irrefutably demonstrated that low-income children can and do achieve at high levels. In rigorous, randomized studies, high-performing charters have shown that great schools close both opportunity and achievement gaps.

Compared to similar peers in traditional public schools, low-income black students at charter schools gain an additional 29 days of learning in reading and 36 days in math per year. Hispanic ELL students make even bigger gains—50 days of learning, or 10 weeks, in reading, and 43 days of learning in math.

In Rhode Island, charter students gain 86 extra days of learning in reading compared to their traditional public school counterparts, and a staggering 108 extra days of learning in math. In D.C., students in charter schools gain about 70 to 100 extra days of learning a year—and charter students in Tennessee and Louisiana also had huge gains.

We know that state policy and authorizing policies matter — and they matter a great deal to charter quality for children. States that were not careful about authorizing charters and let weak operators remain open year after year have a lot of low-quality charters. There are too many charters where students actually learn less than their counterparts in traditional public schools.

On average, charter students in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, and Ohio lose a month to two months in learning each school year. Nevada is even worse — charter students lose more than 100 days of learning a year.

If there is a silver lining in the poor record of these states and authorizers, it is that lawmakers are now reforming state regulation and laws to improve charter quality and make charters more accountable.

And charter authorizers nationwide are moving more rapidly to close bad schools. This spring, Nevada and Texas passed strong laws on authorizing charter schools for the first time — including an automatic closure provision for failing charters. Ohio implemented a similar law starting in 2008, and tightened its accountability and default closure provisions in 2011.

Nationwide, the charter school closure rate among the largest authorizers doubled from June 2011 to June 2012, going from about 6 percent to 13 percent.

My favorite part:

quote:
In many cities, including right here in Washington, charters are substantially more likely to suspend and expel students than other public schools.

In the 2011-12 school year, a total of 230 students were expelled from school in the District. Charters expelled 227 of those 230 students, or 99 percent.

Just 11 charter schools — and that list included some high-performing charters — accounted for 75 percent of those expulsions citywide.

And it goes on and on. I left much out.

So it appears that Sec Duncan, who risks being tommy gunned down for not being able to say "lollapalooza" at the Democratic National Convention, believes that Charter schools can and have been held accountable for success or failure by the state.

[ October 03, 2014, 01:22 PM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Are the charter schools not answerable to anyone?
Not really, no, they're not. In theory they are, but in reality they're just "regular" schools with more private money available for legal defense and bribes. The idea that the private sector is more accountable and more responsive than the public sector is one that's regularly disproved every time some previously public utility or service is privatized.

quote:
They are supposedly also under market pressure to perform, though the amount of pressure obviously depends on the quality of choice involved.
The idea that "market pressure" applies to grade school education is a conservative shibboleth.

Privatization works very well with private goods. It doesn't work very well with public goods. Applying it to everything is just as bad as applying to nothing.
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PSRT
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quote:
Privatization works very well with private goods.
Can you give me some examples of private industries in this country that operate efficiently, have good customer service, provide products that aren't over priced compared to international industry, and don't require public funding to clean up their messes?

I can't think of any that meet those criteria off the top of my head, but maybe I'm just jaded.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
Can you give me some examples of private industries in this country that operate efficiently, have good customer service, provide products that aren't over priced compared to international industry, and don't require public funding to clean up their messes?

The Mustang Ranch Resort. Reno, NV.
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
quote:
Privatization works very well with private goods.
Can you give me some examples of private industries in this country that operate efficiently, have good customer service, provide products that aren't over priced compared to international industry, and don't require public funding to clean up their messes?

I can't think of any that meet those criteria off the top of my head, but maybe I'm just jaded.

Maui Teriyaki, Gainesville, FL

MECLABS, Jacksonville, FL

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TomDavidson
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I think he was speaking of industries, not specific small businesses. [Smile]

That said, I believe there are many private industries that work well until they become excessively financed. (Indoor plumbing, for example, is generally a decent private-sector industry, because it's never particularly appealed to large investors.)

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I think he was speaking of industries, not specific small businesses. [Smile]

That said, I believe there are many private industries that work well until they become excessively financed. (Indoor plumbing, for example, is generally a decent private-sector industry, because it's never particularly appealed to large investors.)

Ah, industries, most of the location specific ones. You already got plumbing, but AC repair, electrical, all that kind of stuff. Restaurants, cleaning and other service stuff.
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Seneca
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The idea that charter schools are less accountable than public schools is laughable at best. The NEA and its local manifestations have total control over the education system in many states. They strike even when its illegal for them to strike. They control hirings and firings, they get teachers who are known to have sex with students put on paid administrative leave and sometimes manage to save their jobs and retirement.

Even if a teacher has a lengthy disciplinary record, in my very liberal state, principals cannot refuse a transfer of a teacher from one school to another, so the really bad teachers just get shuffled around to hide their problems. This is referred to as the "dance of the lemons."

What is the dance of the lemons?
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-dance-of-the-lemons.htm
quote:
The “dance of the lemons” is a term used to refer to the practice of reassigning bad teachers to new schools or districts, rather than firing them. By “bad” teachers, this means people who have been convicted of crimes or who have done other ethically questionable things. Many people in the education community and beyond are understandably upset with this practice, and a number of reforms have been proposed to end the practice.


You may also hear the dance of the lemons called “passing the trash” or “the turkey trot.” It stems from the very simple fact that it is extremely difficult to get rid of bad teachers, especially after they achieve tenure. One of the main reasons for this is the strength of the teacher's union; unions are designed to protect teachers, negotiating good contracts for them and ensuring that they are not fired without cause, but many unions will go to bat for every terminated teacher, including teachers terminated for very good reasons. Once a teacher achieves tenure, which can take as little as two years, he or she becomes virtually unassailable, thanks to the strength of the union.

In a classic example, a school responds to reports that a teacher is abusing his or her students with an investigation and a suspension, and the teacher threatens to litigate, backed by the union. Rather than dealing with the legal costs, the school might make arrangements with another school to simply transfer the teacher, in return for the teacher's agreement to drop the case.

Schools engage in the dance of the lemons for a variety of reasons. Getting rid of bad teachers isn't just difficult, it's also extremely expensive. While a teacher is on suspension or undergoing dismissal proceedings, he or she is entitled to pay and benefits, even if the teacher is in prison, which can be a drain on a poorly funded district. While poor teacher quality is an obvious concern for educational administrators, they may also find their hands tied by the tenure system, and sometimes administrators will find bad teachers shunted upon them; in many schools, hiring and firing choices are not up to the school's administrators, but rather dictated by the school board.

Several proposals have been made to end the practice, including laws that would ban people convicted of certain crimes from teaching, or reorganization of districts that would give administrators more power to decide which teachers to hire. At the very least, this would prevent egregious offenders from continuing to teach, and give administrators more autonomy. However, negotiating ways to end the dance of the lemons is tricky, as people do not want to undermine the strength of the teacher's union, which can be a powerful tool for good teachers.

The economist has a decent article on this phenomenon. http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21599005-reformers-want-make-it-easier-sack-bad-teachers-dance-lemons

quote:
Firing bad ones is nightmarishly hard, partly because teachers may appeal to a three-person panel on which two other teachers sit; one teacher accused of sexually abusing 23 students was paid $40,000 to leave because he could not be sacked immediately. Bad teachers often simply perform the “dance of the lemons”, being moved from district to district.


[ October 04, 2014, 01:12 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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TomDavidson
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You are confusing teacher accountability with school accountability, Seneca.
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Seneca
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There is no difference. Schools are there to be vehicles for teachers to use to teach. They don't serve any other primary purpose.
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PSRT
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Hey look... another example of big money using its money to control the terms of the debate in order to destroy the middle class, without worrying about whether the debate is grounded in reality or not.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Schools are there to be vehicles for teachers to use to teach.
I know many teachers who'd object to this -- which is funny, because they should be flattered by it.
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PSRT
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Its broadly true, in theory. Not in practice.
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Seneca
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What are schools for if not for teachers to teach?

Is their primary purpose athletics?

Is their primary purpose band?

After-school clubs?

Lunch?

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NobleHunter
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Indoctrination, acculturation, and socialization.
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philnotfil
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Child care.
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Seneca
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So I take it there isn't a child care industry that is different from schooling apart from schools then right?
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PSRT
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Why would you post that? It shuts down conversation because it is a post that deliberately ignores what people mean.
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philnotfil
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Seriously, have you heard the outcry when schools talk about cutting hours, or adding a teacher work day.

What am I going to do with my kid all day? In a hundred different variations.

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
Why would you post that? It shuts down conversation because it is a post that deliberately ignores what people mean.

No, it points out the absurdity of attempting to claim the primary purpose of schools is childcare and not teaching.

If it were merely childcare then the government could save a lot of money on the staff it hires as well as the curriculum and supply costs and certification costs.

quote:
Seriously, have you heard the outcry when schools talk about cutting hours, or adding a teacher work day.

What am I going to do with my kid all day? In a hundred different variations.

It's an annoyance but only a logistical one because people planned their schedules on their kids being there. That doesn't for a second make childcare the primary purpose of schools, otherwise schools would look more like daycares than classrooms.
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TomDavidson
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I'm curious: anyone have any anecdote about someone being fired from a charter school for being a bad teacher (as opposed to, say, an outright criminal or abuser)?
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Seneca
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https://www.edreform.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/CER_2009_AR_Charter_Schools.pdf

quote:
Nearly 18 years since the first charter school opened, individual state data indicates that
charter schools are outpacing their conventional public school peers with fewer resources and
tremendous obstacles. The data also proves charter schools are being held accountable for
these results. 4
Looking at results of student achievement and data on closed charter schools simultaneously
in the 40 charter states and the District of Columbia, we are able to determine whether charter
schools are reforming public education. What is clear from this analysis is that in states with
strong charter school laws and where good data is available to all parties, charter schools are
making notable gains. Those schools that have not performed, especially in states whose laws
ensure objective oversight from independent authorizers, have been closed.


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TomDavidson
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quote:
Those schools that have not performed, especially in states whose laws
ensure objective oversight from independent authorizers, have been closed.

I don't actually see that in the data. Rather, those schools that don't perform seem to expel the lowest-performing students until their numbers improve, which is an option not available to public schools.
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philnotfil
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Charter schools have been closing down the bad ones, and are still only showing the same overall achievement as public schools? That doesn't seem like a point in favor of charter schools.
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AI Wessex
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Michigan has a high proportion of under-performing charter schools. Several CS accreditation sponsors have been separated from the program because of that.
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PSRT
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Charter schools also have a very high proportion of involved parents, which is one of the greatest indicators of student success.
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
Charter schools also have a very high proportion of involved parents, which is one of the greatest indicators of student success.

And a low proportion of ELL students. And a low proportion of special ed students. Also good indicators of student success.

And still only work as well as regular public schools.

I had great hope for the charter school movement, but it has been monetized and charter schools are now money-makers rather than education centers. Instead of getting innovative new ideas about how to educate, we get "have students who are more likely to succeed in your schools and your school is more likely to succeed". Brilliant insight!

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AI Wessex
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As with pretty much every other industry, a well-paid staff, good facilities and motivated students are the keys to educational success. Profits leach money from the staff and facilities, and socio-economic status is the key determinant for student motivation. The only way to alter that formula is to have inspired and creative programs. We see those in private schools far more than in charter schools, but there, too, socio-economic status of the student's family is the key to their success.
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PSRT
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quote:
I had great hope for the charter school movement, but it has been monetized and charter schools are now money-makers rather than education centers.
Meh. I never did. Maybe that's a product of where I grew up, with some of the best schools in the world around. (THey are traditional public schools). In my state, the charter school movement was NEVER anything other than a money or power grab. Yeah, there are schools out there that do things differently, but in my area, they weren't getting better results... they were just catering to kids who really didn't fit into public school. Which is a niche that needs to be filled, but its completely doable within the framework of public schooling.

Unfortunately, with the way funding works, the charter schools have ended up doing damage to the traditional schools, without providing any real benefit. Which, given the source of the money that supported charter schools in my state, was probably the point.

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