I thought I would take a look at the total number of page views before turning in for the night.

Much to my surprise, it registered 22 million plus a few thousand.

I like to thank you when we hit a million mark.

Just to be clear, page views represents the number of times someone has opened the blog. It could be one reader who opened it 22 million times, or one million readers who opened it 22 times (in three years and a few months). Obviously it is something in between (actually, according to WordPress, the host of this site, there have been 8.558 million unique visitors). On any given day, the blog is opened between 20,000, 25,000, or more page views, depending on whether some issue catches your fancy or outrages you. My best day ever was in November 2014, when more than 141,000 people opened up the blog to read something. (Did I mention that I always wanted my own newspaper?)

I even thank our trolls. They come and go, but they provide discussion and stir the pot. So long as they behave, they are welcome to comment.

Someone complained the other night that there is too much “doom and gloom” on the blog, but I regret to say that this is an accurate reflection of the madness now gripping American education. Anyone who thinks about it should know that teaching is a very tough job, that people don’t go into teaching to get rich, and that we owe our teachers our respect and admiration for their heroic work. Instead the nation’s policymakers–national and state–have spent years berating and belittling the teachers who do what the policymakers could never do. As several of you have pointed out, the biggest critics of teachers would not last a day in a typical classroom. The kids would boot them out in short order. It is especially annoying when billionaires, hedge fund managers, Hollywood titans and script-writers find fault with people who teach our kids. None of them could do what 98% of teachers do every day.

All this derision cast on teaching as a profession is having an inevitable result: veteran teachers are leaving, and the number of people entering teaching is shrinking. State after state faces teacher shortages. Heckuva job, reformers!

Yes, there is reason to be sad; there is reason to be angry. There is reason to organize, mobilize, agitate, and educate the public. Don’t abandon the ship or the children. We need you more than we need the fat cats and politicians who are after your pay check, your benefits, and your job.

This blog, I hope, will remain civil, but it is not neutral. I have strong views in support of students, teachers, parents, educators, and everyone who is fighting for our democracy. That will continue to be the case.

Just a reminder: I consider this blog my living room. You are all invited so long as you don’t use certain four-letter words that offend me as public utterance (say whatever you want in private, not in public). Above all, you may not insult your host (me). I would appreciate it if you refrain from insulting other guests. Let’s try to be a model of civil discourse even as we loudly protest the movement to privatize and monetize our public schools.

Oh, yes, I should mention that several people have asked me how I plan to monetize the blog. Answer: I don’t.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. I may decide to cut back the number of posts every day (someone told me he felt like he was drinking from a fire hydrant when he read the blog). I am revising “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” this summer, so I may need to cut back to make more time for writing and editing.

Onward to 23 million!


Steve Zimmer, a 17-year-veteran teacher in Los Angeles (he began via Teach for America), was recently elected President of the LAUSD school board.

In this speech to the AFT, he describes the many millions spent to defeat him.

I have known Steve for a few years, and I have always thought of him as soft-spoken. He is definitely NOT soft-spoken in this video. He goes after the billionaires who hope to privatize public schools, and he fights back, with a roar.

He unapologetically defends teachers. He is a firebrand fighting for collaboration.

Russ Walsh, a literacy expert, has offered himself as the teacher whose face should be punched.

He writes:

Faced with declining numbers in the polls and with being out bullied by Donald Trump, Christie has decided to come out swinging – at teachers.

Of course the teachers union has no literal face and the leaders of both major teachers unions, Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Lily Eskelson Garcia of the National Education Association are women. I don’t think even a Republican candidate for president could get away with punching a woman in the face. Belittling them, yes. Berating them, yes. Taking away the choice of what they do with their bodies, yes. But not striking a woman, especially with a Hillary running on the Democratic side.

So, taking all this into consideration, I would like to step up and offer Christie my face to punch.

I am well qualified for the job. I have been a public school teacher and administrator for 45 years. I have been the president and the chief negotiator of my local teachers union. I have been sharply critical of Christie’s education policies on my blog. I deserve that punch in the face. I have earned it. Not only that, I live just a stone’s throw from the statehouse in Trenton, so I could meet the Governor there at any time, if he ever happens to get back to New Jersey.

I am sure it would give Christie a boost in the polls and solidify his standing as a violent, bullying looney worthy of Republican voter support. It might even be enough to get him on the stage at one of the primary debates where he could punch Wolf Blitzer in the face and garner even more support.

Sorry, Russ, but the more I think about it, the better I like the idea of Chris Christie swinging at the faces of Randi and Lily. That would not only finish his political career, but probably land him in jail for assault and battery. And knowing Randi and Lily, I have a feeling Christie would come away the worse for the encounter. They are two tough ladies.

Steven Singer was shocked to learn that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to punch teachers who belong to a union in the face. He takes this personally since he is a teacher and belongs to a union, which Christie has called “the most destructive force in American education.”

He writes:

One day historians may look back on Christie’s statement as a new low in electioneering. And this campaign season, that’s really saying something!

A candidate from one of the major political parties actually thinks threatening teachers with physical violence will gain him votes.


Look at it from his point of view. Christie is one of 17 Republicans running against each other for the party’s nomination. The first GOP debate is coming up and they’re only going to let the top 10 Republican candidates participate. And Christie’s popularity is low enough that he might get left out in the cold.

What’s a guy to do? Well the frontrunner, Donald Trump, earned his lead by saying the most outrageous things he could think of – namely that Mexican immigrants are rapists and thieves. And – WOOSH! – up went his poll numbers! Mike Huckabee compared the Iran deal to the Holocaust and watched his poll numbers rise, too.

Heck! If it worked for them, might as well try the same thing, Christie style! Let’s punch teachers!

This is strange for two reasons: (1) the governor of a populous state is actually resorting to the schoolyard rhetoric of an 8-year-old to characterize his presidential policy, and (2) who he’s targeting.

Can you imagine a U.S. President – not a candidate but a duly elected Commander-in-Chief – speaking to the nation this way?

“Today the state of our union is strong because my administration has punched the teachers in the face. We’ve also thrown welfare moms off the top ropes, put illegal immigrants in a sleeper hold and kicked planned parenthood in the groin!”

He wouldn’t talk this way about other public sector workers. Why so much rancor towards teachers?

Singer writes:

Can you imagine him speaking like this about any other public employee? Would he challenge postal workers to a knife fight? Would he threaten to pistol whip firefighters? Would he dare promise to drop kick police officers?

No way! For some reason educators really bug him – always have. He has a reputation for shouting down and bullying teachers in his state.

A psychologist might easily look at Christie and say he’s overcompensating.

A 52-year-old who probably couldn’t beat up an egg with an egg beater continues to talk as if he’s a street tough. A grown man who is still apparently intimidated by people with any kind of learning or book smarts continues to attack education and educators.

Chris Christie was asked on national television by CNN host Jake Tapper who at the national level deserves a punch in the face. Christie replied, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s account,

“Oh, the national teachers union, who has already endorsed Hillary Clinton 16, 17 months before the election.”

Mr. Tapper: “Why?”

Mr. Christie: “Because they’re not for education for our children. They’re for greater membership, greater benefits, greater pay for their members. And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I have been saying that since 2009. I’ve got the scars to show it. But I’m never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.”

Since most teachers are women, and the leaders of both unions are women, Governor Christie relishes the idea of punching a woman in the face. Nice. What a bully.

So here is a thought experiment for Chris Christie:

Which states are the highest performing in the United States?

Answer: Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Question: Do these states have teachers’ unions and collective bargaining?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Governor Christie, can you name a non-union state that is high-performing?

Answer: (silence)

Bottom line:

Teachers’ unions advocate for higher teacher salaries, which is good for teachers and ultimately for students because their schools have happy, experienced teachers; teachers’ unions advocate for reduced class sizes, which is good for teachers and immediately for students; teachers’ unions advocate for better working conditions, because working conditions are also learning conditions; teachers’ unions advocate for greater public investment in public schools, which is good for students, schools, and communities.

Several notable civil society groups have spoken out against the World Bank’s support for privatization of education in Africa, specifically Kenya and Uganda. The privatization movement gains in strength to the extent that governments fail to provide adequate funding for public education.

Private, for-profit schools in Africa funded by the World Bank and U.S. venture capitalists have been criticized by more than 100 organizations who’ve signed a petition opposing the controversial educational venture.

A May statement addressed to Jim Kim, president of the World Bank, expressed deep concern over the global financial institution’s investment in a chain of private primary schools targeting poor families in Kenya and Uganda and called on the institution to support free universal education instead.

The schools project is called Bridge International Academies and 100,000 pupils have enrolled in 412 schools across the two nations. BIA is supported by the World Bank, which has given $10 million to the project, and a number of investors, including U.S. venture capitalists NEA and Learn Capital. Other notable investors include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar and Pearson, a multinational publishing company.

In a speech delivered in April, Kim praised BIA as a means to alleviate poverty in Kenya and Uganda. Critics responded that many Kenyans and Ugandans cannot afford private education, further arguing that this type of investment merely supports Western businesses at the expense of local public services.

A section of the letter addressed to Kim asserts:

“We, civil society organisations and citizens of Kenya and Uganda, are appalled that an organisation whose mandate is supposed to be to lift people out of poverty shows such a profound misunderstanding and disconnect from the lives and rights of poor people in Kenya and Uganda. If the World Bank is serious about improving education in Kenya and Uganda, it should support our governments to expand and improve our public education systems, provide quality education to all children free of charge, and address other financial barriers to access.”

Opposition to educational neocolonialism

The statement reflects a growing global movement questioning Western policies pushing private education in developing countries. It was written and signed by 30 organizations in Uganda and Kenya and supported by 116 organizations around the world, including Global Justice Now and ActionAid. They claim BIA uses highly standardized teaching methods, untrained low-paid teachers, and aggressive marketing strategies targeted at poor households.

As this article in the Independent (UK) explains in detail, there is an exciting business opportunity in poor nations: developing and delivering scripted lessons at a low cost without government schools. The headline asks the central question: Is this “an audacious answer” to the problems of bringing schooling to the poorest children?

American investors think so. They like the idea of creating for-profit, low-cost schools where the lessons are exactly the same in every classroom, and the teacher is guided by technology to speak as he or she is told. This does not require credentialed teachers, and the training is minimal.

Charging $6 a month on average, Bridge InternationalAcademies, a multinational for-profit chain, is offering schooling about as cheaply as it can be done. Its founders hope to roll that out to 10 million children across Africa and Asia, the key to its own longevity and, it hopes, the global educational conundrum that has bedevilled policy-makers.

Bridge International now has some 400 schools across Uganda and Kenya. Investors worry, however, that the corporation “faces a potent threat to its survival in the shape of radical new teacher training proposals that would drive up the cost and put it beyond the reach of those that need it most.” The government of Kenya is considering requiring teachers to have pedagogical training, which would drive up the cost and threaten the entire enterprise. It would also signal to the world, says one investor, that no one should invest in Kenya.

Bridge currently enrolls 126,000 children; the profit begins when it reaches half a million. The market is promising.

Says the article: Bridge is arguably the most audacious answer yet to the question of how to bring education to the masses in countries where schools are plagued by overcrowding and teacher absenteeism. The lesson plans and script are prepared in the U.S., then delivered by technology to classes in Africa. Its teachers are “most school-leavers” trained by Bridge. School-leavers are what we would call dropouts, presumably high-school dropouts.

Step into any classroom at Bridge and the chances are that the teacher will be uttering exactly the same words that are being uttered in every single Bridge school. A handbook instructs the teacher to look up from the e-book every five seconds, to wait eight seconds for children to answer, and instead of asking the teacher to explain a mathematical concept, the lesson plan takes them through it step by step. “All I have to do is deliver,” said Mary Juma, a Bridge teacher.

While the scripted approach has earned Bridge acclaim, it has also attracted criticism. “It looks hi-tech, but it is really just someone following a lesson plan in a top-down way and not stimulating discussion,” says David Archer, head of programme development at UK charity ActionAid. “It is almost Victorian.”

While global studies of low-cost private schools have produced mixed results, Ms May is convinced that Bridge’s model works. It has commissioned independent evaluations that show children enrolled in its schools significantly outperform their state-educated peers in mathematics and English. The real test, though, will come in November, when a cohort of Bridge’s children will be ready to take the final primary school exams for the first time.

But here is the danger to investors:

Even as Bridge gets its chance to prove whether its model works, regulatory hurdles threaten to be its undoing. The Kenyan government is setting out new proposals that would radically recalibrate the financial calculations on which these schools operate. Most sweeping of all is a stipulation that half of all teachers in any one school should have a recognised teaching qualification and be paid accordingly.

As usual, it is those “wicked” teachers’ unions that threaten this bold and possibly financially rewarding experiment.

Angelo Gavrielatos is the executive director of Education International, an association of teachers’ unions from around the world. Previously he led the Australian Teachers Federation.

Gavrielatos writes: The case for a Global Response to the Commercialisation and Privatisation of Education is not only clear, it is urgent. In the context of the many challenges that confront public education systems globally, the increasing commercialisation and privatisation in and of education represent the greatest threat to education as a public good and to equality in education access and outcomes.

It should therefore not be of any surprise to anyone that this issue dominated the proceedings of the 7th World Congress of Education International (EI)[i], which took place between 22-26 July in Ottawa, Canada, Noting the dimension and the threat to students, teachers, education support personnel and quality public education for all posed by the ongoing commercialisation and privatisation of education, the World Congress , consisting of nearly 2,000 delegates, resolved that we need a global response to the rapidly expanding for-profit corporate sector involvement in education. Whilst this carries on from EI’s existing work on privatisation and member organisation national campaigns focused on privatisation, the Global Response to the Commercialisation and Privatisation in and of Education aims to draw these efforts together with a view to delivering a stronger more focused response by harnessing collective energy and influence.

This Global Response aims to focus on the engagement of education corporations[ii] in various aspects of education governance, in particular the sale and provision of for-profit education and education services, such as standardised testing and evaluation tools, and policy formation and implementation. It seeks specifically to advocate against the expansion of profit-making in public education where it undermines the right of all students to free quality education, creates and entrenches inequalities in education, undermines the working conditions and rights of teachers and other education workers, and erodes democratic decision-making and public accountability in relation to education governance. This is informed by an analysis highlighting the rapid growth of education corporations/edu-businesses, the size, reach and influence of which had not been foreseen.

With little, if any regard for national borders, the nation state of national sovereignty, the rapid growth of education corporations/edu-businesses is driven by the desire on the part of global capital to access the relatively untapped education market valued at approximately $4.5 to $5 trillion USD per annum. A figure predicted to grow to $6 to S7 trillion USD per annum in a couple of years. Having identified the lucrative nature of the education market, and in particular how much the limitless, sustainable resource of children, our students, and their education represents, global education corporations/edu-businesses have set about trying to influence and control education in order to satisfy their profit motives. This Global Response will also focus on governments which in too many cases are abrogating their obligations to ensuring that every child, every student has access to a high quality free public education by either allowing or indeed facilitating and encouraging the growth in the commercialisation and privatisation of education.

The danger of governments outsourcing education activities to profit-making corporations is that it makes it possible for these actors to not only ‘reap uncontrolled profit’, but also to assert their influence in policy processes and to steer education agendas in ways that may not align with international agreements and national priorities. This poses a risk not only for public education systems themselves, but also their ability to promote democracy, social cohesion and equity.

Moreover, it raises fundamental questions about whose interests are being served by these developments in education, and with what outcomes. Now more than ever, the global political landscape and the growing influence and dominance of global corporate actors require us all to reach out and build community alliances in a way we have never done so before if we are to resist and, more importantly, reverse current trends. Failure to do so will put at risk that great social enterprise of public education. [i] Education International (EI) is the Global Union Federation which represents more than 32 million teachers and other education workers form more than 170 countries. [ii]

Among the most influential corporations operating in the global education market is the education conglomerate Pearson. Through aggressive lobbying, campaign contributions and PR efforts, Pearson exerts great influence over policymaking and policymakers in many countries. Describing what could be interpreted as giving rise to a potential conflict of interest, new research by Jünemann and Ball, Pearson and PALF: The Mutating Giant http://www.educationincrisis.net/resources/ei-publications highlights why the profit motive has no place in dictating what is taught, how it is taught, how it is assessed nor how schools, colleges and universities are organised. Of Pearson’s modus operandi, Jünemann and Ball note: “as Pearson is contributing to the global education policy debate, it is constructing the education policy problems that will then generate a market for its products and services in the form of the solutions. In effect, part of the more general aim of activities like the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF)…is the creation of more market opportunities for Pearson’s products. More generally, global education reform packages which include the use of information technology and shifts from input-based to output-led policy-making, offer a whole new set of market opportunities to Pearson.

Pearson is involved both in seeking to influence the education policy environment, the way that policy ‘solutions’ are conceived, and, at the same time, creating new market niches that its constantly adapting and transforming business can then address and respond to with new ‘products’. In this sense, the fulfilment of social purpose is directly and indirectly related to the search for and creation of new opportunities for profit…”(p3) Education International Internationale de l’Éducation Internacional de la Educación Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director | Brussels |Belgium Tel.:+32 2 224 06 11 | Fax: +32 2 224 06 06| http://www.ei-ie.org

Here is another citizen-educator, Rob Taylor, a teacher of special education in Tennessee, who researched the Parthenon Group. Here he shares what he learned by speaking to the Knox County Schools Board of Education in February 2014:

“Is Knox County Schools’ vision “Excellence for ALL Children”? Or only the ones who are “more profitable than others”?

“Are OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS places where ALL students have equal access to the opportunities afforded to them by a quality, FREE public education for the purpose of furthering the public good, or are they places “where private investors can PLAY?”

“Those are shocking questions, but ones I was forced to ask myself when researching the Boston-based Parthenon Group, who as you know Knox County Schools is currently paying (with a grant from the Gates Foundation of over a million dollars combined with an additional $360,000 of local money) in order to conduct a “resource analysis” of our school systems assets.

“I have watched representatives from the Parthenon Group give multiple presentations before This Board as recently as this week, a hallmark of which has been exhaustive PowerPoint arrangements outlining various statistical analyses to support their upcoming recommendations. It is my concern that these recommendations will be little more than a justification for a predetermined outcome. Namely: the opening up of our School System’s resources to the interests of for-profit businesses and private investors.

“Members of this board have stated that teachers presenting concerns to The Board provide EVIDENCE that such concerns are valid, and I have provided each of you this evening with a hard copy of a DIFFERENT KIND of PowerPoint, created by Parthenon partner and member of Parthenon’s Education Practice, Robert Lytle, which was created a few years ago for presentation to potential investors.

“I invite you to review this at your leisure but also to notice a number of statements offered in this presentation:

“Page 2: Asks the question: “Where Can Financial Investors Play?”,

“Page 3: Promises “..big, high-profile deals” and “fertile ground for proprietary opportunities”.

“Page 4: States “deals are everywhere”, and describes the 23 Billion dollar per-year revenue streams available to investors from testing, assessment, and outsourced school management.

“And MOST DISTURBINGLY, on p. 13, the quote “All students are not equal; SOME ARE MORE PROFITABLE THAN OTHERS.”

“I wonder, which students are less-than- equal? My Special Education students in my Elementary classroom? Or maybe my own children and their first and fourth-grade classmates?

“I find it alarming that the quality of ANY CHILD would be determined by the amount of PROFIT their public-school education might generate for a third-party investor, and frightening that members of an organization which would make such a statement – in this case the Parthenon Group, would be involved in an advisory capacity or involved with ANY decision-making process at the highest levels of our district.

“Lest my concerns be dismissed on the basis that the PowerPoint I have provided you this evening may have been misconstrued or taken out of context, I would like to inform The Board of the content of the recommendations made by Parthenon in other school districts with which they have contracted.

“In Memphis / Shelby County Schools, the Parthenon Group recommended a reduction in educator salaries , retirement and health benefits, an increase in class sizes, and an expansion of so-called merit pay based upon standardized test scores.

“Similar recommendations were made by Parthenon for the Metro Nashville Public Schools, with the additional recommendation that certain student services, such as Special Education, be incrementally outsourced and privatized. Nashville began outsourcing special education functions in 2010 to the for-profit Spectrum Academy, a division of Educational Services of America.

A reader from Tennessee sent this comment:

“Well, well, Knox County Schools’ old friend The Parthenon group raises its ugly head out of the caves of East TN up to Chicago. In 2014 KCS Board of Education hired The Parthenon Group to do a “resource analysis” to the board about “improving “the school system. Parthenon made the usual recommendations – increase class size, cut librarians, counselors, etc- all about cutting costs. Some of us did a little investigating into Parthenon & presented this info to the school board in 2014. On the Parthenon Group’s website we located 2 presentations they gave to potential investors about money making opportunities in education. One of their prime examples for return on investment $$$ was Corinthian College. You may recall Corinthian’s fraud & its backdoor investor bailout by Duncan’s DoEd.



“Here is my speech to KCS BoEd made in March 2014 about The Parthenon Group.

“When I was much younger my Daddy & I went looking to buy a car. I decided on a car by first picking the one that was painted my favorite color and my Daddy always decided on a car by first looking under the hood. Thank heaven, I didn’t make the final decisions on buying cars for the family. I learned from my Daddy.

“After reading the Parthenon Group’s recommendations, our school community should should under their hood.

“Parthenon’s education group is made up of “entrepreneurial” consultants, mostly newly minted MBAs. It’s ironic that they would recommend disincentivize teachers in obtaining advanced degrees when 10 of them have MBA’s. Teachers are our children’s models for pursuing more education, not less.

“In 2009 & 2012 The Parthenon education group made 2 presentations entitled INVESTING IN EDUCATION. WHERE ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES & HOW CAN YOU CAPTURE THEM? and PARTHENON PERSPECTIVES : BALANCING OPPORTUNITIES & RISK, respectively.

“The target of these OTHER reports are businesspersons or business entities that want to start up a new for-profit school systems. Parthenon is selling potential profiteers happy fairy tales of “creative destruction.”

“Parthenon’s vision for their investors is what they envision for public education, including Knox Co Schools- that is, to kick public schools to the curb and take over via charters. The old public ed system will, like public utilities, be killed. And then–they’ll already be positioned to take over.

“Business types don’t like to be reminded of other unsuccessful “creative destructions” For example, how the death of public utilities spawned Enron.

“The long-term goal presented here is not to keep the public school system –it’s to grow for-profit schools to be much larger than the public system, then reduce public schools enrollment to those “less profitable” students.

“Note the questions slide 5: “How well can you supplement the management teams” and ” what is your experience as an activist owner? Translation: This is about business people taking over schools, and running them.
In the meantime, they can only suck up public funding through very creative “non-traditional” (translation: deceptive) strategies. Also slide 5.
Hence their question: “Will you do non-traditional structures? (non-profits…MINORITY INTERESTS! Getting rich while pretending to be a nonprofit–can you say scam?

“The one story of profitability & success is Corthinian Colleges. The more you read about Corinthian, the more slimy it is. Corithinain is currently under federal investigation in CA for fraud. Their stock price today is $1.55/ That’s a heck of an investment!! Their case here is so speculative and risky that you really would have to be insane or very ideological to do it. As an educator & a taxpayer I oppose hustlers like those in the Parthenon Group, who are eagerly inflating the next speculation bubble with breathless sales pitches

“Now, slide 11 from the 2012 pp points out how growth in the ed industry depends on a guaranteed failure mechanism, like the CC & PARCC- the testing delivery system for generation after generation of public school turnover. :“if Common Core gets teeth the achievement gap will get bigger.” Standardized tests have by design a lowest 5% of test scores every year.

“What kind of a person celebrates humiliating children to peddle investments? Only swindlers at Parthenon can “dispassionately” recommend increasing class sizes for Knox County’s voiceless poor and disabled children.

“Leading up to the wall St crash of 2008 a lot of traders who sold their clients derivatives knew they were selling junk. These Parthenon profiteers are definitely selling time-bomb edu-investments- cash in & leave while OUR children & taxpayers pay the price. We should be skeptical and demand evidence at every turn from these hustlers. Take nothing on faith. Look under the hood.

“Their business priorities are in direct conflict with the priorities of Knox County Schools, e.g. children, parents & education professionals. Cutting costs by Increasing class sizes & disincentivize teachers in obtaining advanced degrees is not an education plan. As an educator & a taxpayer I oppose hustlers like those in the Parthenon Group denying our children the education opportunities they deserve.”


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