With 136,500 unemployed in CT, Hartford Board of Ed may give TFA $650,940 to recruit out-of-state inexperienced teachers

In an extraordinary statement about the fundamental lack of commitment to Connecticut citizens, the Hartford Board of Education will be meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. to authorize Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to extend the Hartford Board of Education’s contract with Teach for America, costing Connecticut and Hartford taxpayers an additional $650,940.

The taxpayer funds will be used to pay Teach for America a “finders-fee” to recruit up to 210 college graduates, none of whom will have gone through a college level teacher training program, to take teaching position in Hartford classrooms.

As the memo from Superintendent Kishimoto to the Hartford Board of Education explains;

“Teach for America recruits teachers from the top colleges and universities across the country.  Each teacher, corps member, commits to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions across the United States. Teach for America’s mission is to recruit, select, train and support outstanding recent college graduates to serve as highly qualified and effective teachers in urban schools.”

TFA recruits are given five weeks of training, are paid the same rate as Hartford’s fully trained beginning teachers and the federal government will allow the TFA recruits to write-off their federal student loans for each year they teach.

Meanwhile, 136,500 Connecticut residents remain unemployed including many trained teachers who already hold Connecticut teacher certificates.

Furthermore, as a direct result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s policies, there are about 8,200 FEWER jobs in state and local government since he took office.  Those jobs disappeared as a result of targeted budget cuts to various government programs, including education at the state and local level.  Some of those lost jobs were held by teachers with valid Connecticut teaching certificates.

In addition, hundreds of new Connecticut residents have graduated over the past couple of years from the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University and other Connecticut colleges and universities after completing four and five-year teacher preparation programs.

These students and their families have spent tens of thousands of dollars to prepare for a teaching career in Connecticut.

But rather than give unemployed teachers and the fully-trained recent graduates an opportunity to get a job and contribute to the well-being of their home state, the Hartford Board of Education, a committee that includes the Mayor of Hartford, may vote to pay Teach for America another $650,000 to recruit mostly out-of-state kids to move to Connecticut for a couple of years.

The notion that the Hartford Board of Education would even consider such an insult to Connecticut and its taxpayers is disturbing beyond words.

To date, Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport,Windham, New London and other cities have already paid millions of taxpayer funds to Teach for America so that they can recruit and place inexperienced teachers in our state’s urban classrooms.

The fact that Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Prior aren’t stepping in to put Connecticut citizens first is even more outrageous.

Once again, we are left to ask, are there any elected or appointed state or municipal officials who will stand up for Connecticut’s families?

The question is, will Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor or Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra act before it is too late?

Or will they turn their backs on Connecticut citizens yet again?

  • Linda174

    Tonight 8:30 #resist TFA twitter storm:

  • EduMom

    Shame on Superintendent Kishimoto, and shame on the board if they agree.

  • Linda174

    TFA go away:

  • Linda174

    Why we resist TFA:

  • Linda174

    College students fight the recruitment of students for TFA:

  • Jonboy

    Calling TFA temps ‘teachers’ is an insult of the highest order to both the teaching profession and CT’s highly educated and highly trained EDUCATORS.


    • Mary Gallucci

      I don’t see why traditionally-trained teachers and their unions have not come down harder on the TFA nonsense. Also, every state university in CT has a big education school–where are they? Oh, Southern tried to make some money off of TFA by offering bogus “drive by” master’s degrees.
      Maybe the real education profs can come out against this travesty to the professionalism of teaching–not to mention the racism and classicism of a program that places unqualified “missionaries” in the classrooms of poor urban students (and not in Simsbury).
      I suppose many teachers in already-imperiled districts (the ones the state is trying to take over) are fearful. Otherwise they’d be coming out and telling folks about what really goes on in TFA classrooms. In lieu of classroom management, there are grade-bribes (some TFA teach classes/grades that are not tested on the yearly tests, and, look! everyone has an A or B in High School math! Oops, the next year, these “A” students can’t pass the CAPT, or the SATs. But that sure was one popular TFA teacher, who also ran an afterschool club. Or how about the 2nd year TFAers who basically stop teaching with 6 weeks to go on their contract? Hell, they’re off to law school or Wall Street and they never did get the hang of teaching. Some TFA don’t even show up the last few weeks.
      But you won’t be seeing that in the newspaper or in the TFA promotional materials. You won’t see how they try to “scare” kids straight in Middle School–when they don’t even know their students. It is routine for TFAers to enter the classroom with the pre-conceived notion that all the students are several grade levels behind. This gives them license to do anything…
      The arrogance is stunning. I really hope the Hartford BoE does not agree to this–in fact, they should dump TFA (brought to you by Steven Adamowski!) NOW.
      I’ve heard of disgruntled workers destroying records and creating mayhem when they leave a job they’ve been fired from–Kishimoto seems to be doing the equivalent, but she is being aided and abetted by the appointed members of the BoE in Hartford, who are bought and sold by reformers like Sackler and Mandel; Achieve Hartford, etc., who love TFA.

      • Mary Gallucci

        classism, not classicism! my bad.

        • Castles Burning

          You are not bad at all!

          One reason for teacher “apathy” may be the sense that the ADMINISTRATION has spoken in giving obvious priority or preference to TFAs. From the little that I have seen, TFAs are protected and given choice assignments and other perks. It is like there is “buy-in” to them as the “superior” ones who must be “tantalized” to stay in the “profession.”

          The superintendents who hire TFAs protect them. They may meet with them and share policy, etc. that is not “available” to the average teacher.

          There is systemic support for TFAs within the public school systems by those who engage them. The fight against TFAs is all part of the larger fight for the corporatization of education.

          Thank God for blogs like these that allow teachers to wake up and when they do . . . We still seem to be in a David and Goliath battle.

          I hear you, Linda174, Cindy, brutus2011 call for action and I so appreciate that. Keep up the good fight.

        • Mary Gallucci

          Actually, many TFA do get preferential treatment–which they themselves may not acknowledge. If TFA are not placed in grades that are not tested, some are put into subject areas that are not tested.
          However good TFAers are (with or without special “elite” placements and respect accorded to them by the admin, at the expense of traditional teachers, who are stigmatized as the “status quo”), it is impossible for a district to reverse or ameliorate teacher turnover once TFA is in place–and then put on steroids, as in Hartford. The young, hip, “smart,” nice TFA teacher will be gone in 2 years most likely; maybe in 3; and then it’s a crap shoot as to the next intern/recruit. And who needs a revolving door of elite specialists?

        • Castles Burning

          Extremely well said.

        • JMC

          It’s OK to have classics on the brain, Mary!

        • Mary Gallucci

          Guilty as charged!

        • Magister

          Happens to me all the time.

      • Magister

        This is what outrages me the most. There are so many professional CT teachers looking for work as well as aspiring career teachers coming onto the job market, and they are being ignored in favor of these edu-tourists? These dabblers using CT schools and children as resume bullet-points?

  • Fed Up in Hartford

    Shame on the Hartford BOE for letting Kishimoto once again sell them down the river. The sheer audacity of this school district claiming that it’s UNDERFUNDED! Yet they’re willing to throw this kind of money down the drain for NOTHING. If they’re willing to pay such a “finder’s fee” or “placement fee” for these untrained temps, then they ought to be paying CCSU, UConn, and all other CT colleges the same amount for every education grad that’s hired. That’s only fair to us taxpayers!

  • cindy

    Teachers really need to wake up. A few years ago, who would have thought that corporate elitists could re-write standards that define the day to day jobs of teachers in all schools, not just the “failing” ones. Teacher salaries are the biggest line item of most school budgets, and school budgets dwarf town budgets.

    Once the standards are packaged, and the tests are packaged, teachers will be irrelevant. I’m sad to say this – as a former teacher – our teaching certificates will be toilet paper. If TFA teachers can test-prep with the best of them, why will the special ‘art and science” skill of teachers be needed?

    To all those teachers who think, “It will be alright.” please stop and do some critical thinking and soul-searching. If you don’t mobilize and speak up, perhaps it would be worth your time to prepare for your next career.

    • brutus2011

      Cindy hits the nail on the head. We teachers are behaving like idiots and we are being treated accordingly.

      Of course, teachers are not really idiots but we are allowing ourselves to be used and abused not only by our building and district administrators but also by our union administrators–local, state and national.

      Teachers can wake up, consolidate the ranks, and mobilize our more than considerable power.

      Otherwise, we are toast–and we are already getting crispy.

      • cindy

        I would also suggest reaching out to local reps or better, potential candidates for governor. Teachers and parents MUST make Republicans and Democratic candidates understand and address the issues. Charters must be held accountable to parents and communities just like all local schools. This is really the last shot – candidates, regardless of their “platform” can easily change (i.e. anti union/pro-privatization) once they understand the issues better. Put aside political affiliation and hound ALL candidates until they begin acting like they represent the voters.

        This is the best shot we have in CT with elections on the horizon. Be thankful it is crashing and burning in NY because that is our future, and we should learn from it!!

  • Joe Visconti

    As a Republican candidate for Governor I will be attending tomorrows board of education meeting. I attended Noah Webster, M.D. Fox Elementary and Bulkeley High School and want to see first hand the continued handi work of the Education Cartel. Thank you for the article Jon. “Be local, buy local”

    • educationmatters

      Joe – I may not be a Republican, but I sure do appreciate that you are paying attention to the details. It’s refreshing to see a candidate post an opinion and take a stand. Thank you!

    • R.L.

      I taught at Bulkeley High School over the period it was destroyed by Adamowski. I could give you some good insight as to what “reform” did to that school.

    • Magister

      I am a voter with no strong party ties, preferring to base my choice on the merits of the individual.

      I am also a one-issue voter (education) figuring that anyone with a rational, humane view of education is likely to be rational and humane about most other things.

      I appreciate your attention to these critical matters.

  • Linda174

    See pix to clarify, cute kid:

    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA
    NO TFA

  • Linda174

    Monday, February 17, 2014


    12 Reasons To Resist TFA

    1. Five Weeks.

    Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Five weeks of training. My flightiest fifteen-year-old students have longer relationships. The gestation period of a guinea pig is longer. Phileas Fogg could not even get halfway around the world. And even the “five weeks” is overstating it, because as numerous TFA escapees have noted, a large chunk of that five weeks is not actual training, but simply being dumped in front of a faux class to flail away.

    The go-to analogy here is “Would you hire a doctor/lawyer who had only five weeks of training,” but we don’t have to get that fancy. I wouldn’t let a five-week plumber touch my pipes or a five-week mechanic touch my car. When I worked a summer as a catalog order phone sales rep, I was trained for two entire weeks, and closely supervised for another month. The only jobs where five weeks of training are adequate involve either “Do you want fries with that” or “Paper or plastic?”

    2. Stability.

    Schools need it. Schools serving poor and at-risk populations need it even more. Those students need to know that their school is stable, dependable, and there for them every day. Stability is not enhanced by a teaching staff that turns over every single year comprised of teachers who are just passing through. School is where students should meet adults who care enough about the children to stick around for the long haul.

    3. A Solution with No Problem.

    Maybe once upon a time there was a shortage of teachers (and by “once upon a time” I mean 50-60 years ago), but there sure as heck isn’t one now. I find unemployment figures from 6% to 9% for education, and the anecdotal info matches that.

    I can believe that Wendy Kopp’s mission was noble twenty years ago. But twenty years ago I was married to a different woman, and that’s not who I’m going home to tonight. Today’s world does not need the TFA solution from twenty years ago.

    4. TFA (among others) Doesn’t Understand Economics

    There are, to be sure, districts that have trouble recruiting teachers. The entire state of North Carolina is doing its best to drive teachers away. But economics tells us how to fix the issue. Heck, we’re all instructed in this issue every time some criminal CEO gets a raise.

    If you want the right people for a particular job, you have to pay what the invisible hand of the market says you have to pay. If you can’t get anybody to work for you shoveling fertilizer for minimum wage, you have to pay more. At the very least, you have to make the job more attractive.

    People who squawk about attracting and retaining top quality highly effective teachers keep acting as if this is some mystery. It’s not. If you want to get people to do a job, make it worth their while. That doesn’t necessarily mean money– people work for autonomy and a sense of value– but it certainly doesn’t mean you throw up your hands and grab some 22-year-old temp with no training.

    5. So Discover a New Problem, or Else

    Since no teacher shortage exists anywhere, TFA has massaged its message. Because how are they going to stay in business if they simply announce, “You know what? The teacher shortage of two decades ago is over. Problem solved. We can all go home now.” Nope. Instead, TFA has quietly changed its mission to something else entirely.

    In this, TFA reveals itself to be a status-quo loving institution just like any other. Because the number one mission of every hidebound dinosaur of an institution, the ironclad law of the institutional jungle, is Self Preservation. And TFA has arrived at that magical spot where the mission is “Say whatever you need to, but keep our directors employed and the money rolling in.”

    6. Its New Mission Is More Bogus That the Old One

    Teach For America works to eliminate this injustice by finding, training, and supporting individuals who are committed to equality and placing them in high-need classrooms across the country. Through this experience, they become lifelong leaders for a better world.

    Points for honesty– we’re not even pretending that TFA is aiming itself at education, really. Notice that “teach” doesn’t appear anywhere except in their name. And we’re going to find these special snowflakes and place them in a classroom– what they do once they’re placed there is anybody’s guess.

    TFA has repositioned itself as an engine for equality. Twitter is awash in TFA tweetage about getting black teachers in classrooms, and TFA has made “diversity” one of its core values. TFA is hustling like crazy to get black men into the classroom, and of all the ways in which TFA has rewritten/tweaked its mission, this is one of the least objectionable. But its mission remains the same– recruit the elite, the people who are just better than everyone else, and give them some classroom experience. Just by placing these superior humans in a classroom with, well, inferior humans, the inferior humans will be elevated. Why? Well…

    7. TFA Doesn’t Understand Mobility

    The average TFA body’s success story goes something like this.

    “I was born into a rich family and grew up in a rich neighborhood. My family’s connections got me into a top private school, and connections and money made it possible for me to attend a select ivy league college. Now I’m going to go help poor kids get a good education, because the most important factor to getting ahead in this world is education.”

    Or: “I was born on third base, which makes me uniquely qualified to teach people how to hit triples.”

    8. TFA Has An Arrogance Problem

    TFA has built itself around recruiting and retaining people who are Just Better Than Everyone Else. And then it devotes tons of internal communication to reminding its people that they are Just Better Than Everyone Else. Consequently, many TFAers do not play well with others. They enter schools convinced that the professional teachers who already work there are the problem, and should be ignored. The best schools, even the most not-too-bad schools, depend on collegiality and cooperation. When TFA says “team,” they mean their team, not the public school team.

    TFA knows they have a problem. Another core value that they’ve added is “respect & humility.”

    9. TFA Wastes the Good Intentions of Good People

    Many, many TFAers join up for the very best of reasons with the very best of intentions. These are people who really want to help make the world a better place for children who face tough obstacles. Instead, they are made part of a program that sets them up for failure in the classroom and wastes all their good intentions on simply enriching TFA itself. Some of these people actually end up staying in teaching for good, and God bless those people. But how many more of those good people would still be teachers if they had actually gotten involved in, I don’t know– a teaching program.

    10. A Classroom Is Not An “Experience.”

    The classic Onion column said it best. These are real live students with real needs and desires and hopes and dreams and needs. They do not exist simply so that some future Master of the Universe can say, “Hey, I once spent a year in a classroom with some poor people.”

    Here’s one way to understand Being a Professional: when you are doing your job, it’s not about you. At all. When you are a doctor in an operating theater, your personal wants and dreams are the least important thing in the room. When you are a lawyer in court, you leave your personal issues for the day outside. And when you are a teacher in a classroom, the very last thing you should be wondering is “What am I going to get out of this?”

    Students are not there to provide you with an experience. You are there to provide them with an education.

    11. TFA Isn’t Very Interested in Teaching

    In addition to those already listed, TFA’s Core Values are Leadership, Team and Transformational Change. Nothing about teaching. They talk about leadership a great deal, about establishing a culture of excellence, about how it is all challenging. TFA is interested in how the experience will foster your leadership skills and make you a better person when you finally get to your real job.On TFA’s website, the verb “teach” rarely appears. Beyond the official materials, there’s a lot of talk about TFA as a great resume-builder. But not a lot of talk about teaching.

    I had a student teacher once who struggled a great deal. What became clear was that he didn’t really want to be a teacher– he just wanted to be the smartest guy in the classroom. TFA materials remind me of him a great deal. No talk of teaching techniques, pedagogical approaches, breaking down materials into manageable chunks, developmental appropriateness. TFA’s pedadgogical approach appears to be, “Arrive in classroom. Be awesome. Demand excellence. Watch education magically occur. Quit and go to grad school for MBA.”

    12. TFA Diminishes the Profession

    TFA institutionalizes the very idea that teaching is so idiot-simple that anybody can do it. Well, at least anybody from among the elite. That feeds very nicely into the newly-reformed conception of teachers as Content Delivery Units. If the teacher’s job is just to unpack the unit from Pearson’s shipping carton and read the script to the students– well, yes, if teaching were that simple, any idiot COULD do it.

    Or if we decided that the only real job a teacher has is to insure good scores on The Test, well, most idiots could probably do that as well. In the end, TFA has solved its own first problem. If five weeks of training is insufficient to prepare someone to teach, well, then, let’s ramp down the professional requirements of a teacher until it’s something that you CAN be trained for in five weeks.

    Posted by Peter A. Greene at Monday, February 17, 2014

  • Mary Gallucci

    The Hartford BoE should examine this contract very carefully. When the percentage of TFA becomes significant in any one school and in any district, this has a profound effect on everything else.
    In Windham, Adamowski was so eager to get TFA in place, with his stage parent, ConnCAN advocate E. Haynes, that he overshot the mark–he wanted 20 or so per year for the first two years–but Windham did not even have that many openings.
    Once TFA was in place and having a disastrous effect on one school in particular, many teachers started looking for jobs elsewhere. So the teaching staff ends up having a preponderance of novices–many of whom are there for 2 years before moving on to more lucrative work. This Hartford deal really spells disaster for the future of stability and growth. Kishimoto is selling the district out.

    • Castles Burning

      I hear you on the disaster and the selling out. Thank you for including your experience as it broadens my own. Clearly the percentage of TFAs in a school matters greatly.

    • Magister

      I think that’s a feature rather than a flaw, at least for those who stand to profit from the Walmartization of the school for financial gain. In addition, it probably makes for an easy to manipulate staff once you have destroyed institutional memory.

  • Bill Morrison

    I strongly recommend that we each show up and speak against this travesty. TFA must go!

  • jrp1900

    There is a lot in corporate education “reform” that astonishes, but perhaps nothing is so astonishing as the strategic deployment of TFA. It’s counter-intuitive that untrained recent graduates will fare better in the classroom than seasoned teachers. And the reason that this notion feels counter-intuitive is quite simple: its contrary to common sense and cool reason. With rare exceptions, there is no way at all that a person with 5 weeks training can take commanding control of the classroom and lead the students with equanimity.

    I have known young people who went into TFA, and while I thought highly of them as individuals, I did not think that they were prepared to do a better job of teaching than someone with professional training. There is a reason we have EDUCATION PROGRAMS. Yesterday, we took teaching seriously: we saw it as a profession, a vocation, which makes great demands on its practitioners. We understood that it was no small thing to get up in front of children and then ask them to follow you. But today we–meaning “they”!!–have completely trivialized teaching. They have decided that teaching is just like brushing your teeth or driving your car: just about anyone can do it!

    TFA is insidious for a number of reasons. It’s an integral part of the corporate plan to de-professionalize teachers and to bring them under strict management control. Professionalism is anathema to the corporate types because professionals have too much workplace autonomy. We can’t have that in our brave new schools of “accountability.” Professionals typically form unions. And this is the real value of TFA for the “reformers”: it allows management to go around union contracts by using “contract labor”–i.e., the TFA cohort. And it will always be true that people on short term contracts are more vulnerable, more pliable and less invested in their place of employment. In short, TFA gives management a considerable degree of “flexibility.”

    And TFA is not the best option for students. As Jon Pelto says, there are many unemployed teachers in Connecticut. If Hartford BOE has money to spend, it should spend it on real teachers for the benefit of the children. TFA is not only part of union busting, it is also, sad to say, an engine for increasing the ghettoization of the ghetto. When TFA went to New Orleans, thousands of public school teachers were laid off, many of them people of color, whose middle class jobs were crucial for the stability of certain neighborhoods. When these people lost their jobs, the impact on their communities must have been terrible. I’m sure the same thing will happen in Hartford, albeit on a much smaller scale. But Hartford needs every good job that it currently has, as the city’s economy is anything but promising.

    Superintendent Kishimoto (in league with Stefan Pryor) is wreaking havoc on Hartford’s future. She is taking from the needy to give to those who are already glutted. TFA is a rich organization, backed by powerful wealthy people; it does not need a penny of public money. If they want to send “brilliant young people” to the poorest school districts, let them pay for it!

    One hopes that some of the young people recruited to TFA will wake up and see the light. I understand that many have good intentions, but they have to realize that they are being used. I told one person I know who was in TFA that she should immediately disabuse herself of the idea that she was going to “save poor kids in the ghetto.” What could she know as someone who grew up with wealth what it is was like to live in a distressed community like Hartford? TFA encourages their “bright young things” to think of themselves as “game changers.” In my view, this is little else than an incitement to willful innocence or disgusting arrogance. And what is more, when the TFA “teacher” has a hard time of it and is forced to revise her “idealism,” it is easy to see that she might become bitter and cynical–hardly the attitudes you want in a leader of children…

    I always say if TFA is so great then send them to the wealthy districts like Avon and Farmington, and the veteran teachers in those communities can come and teach in places like Hartford and Windham. Of course, I am well aware this would never happen!

    • Mary Gallucci

      I agree on all counts.

      • JMC

        Definitely. And nobody could say it better.

  • rsoxrule

    Where is the outrage by Hartford’s OVERTAXED residents?!?

  • George

    The teachers in my district have taken pay freezes twice in order to help the cause. When I was first hired in New Haven, it was 3 years before I saw a raise and it was a whopping $400 a year. And they will give these pricks 2/3 of a million just to hire these untrained people? This is beyond an insult. I don’t know how this shit flies in any district, never mind one that is so cash-strapped. But this is Corrupticut after all.

    • jonpelto

      Well said

  • newhavenpublic

    The same thing is happening in New Haven. Scroll to the VERY END of the NHPS document below to see the TFA – New Haven contract. Last month they quietly bumped the number of TFAs in New Haven up to 22 from 18. We have fewer than Hartford, but both of our cities should have NONE if we were truly vested in improving our urban classrooms. http://nhps.net/sites/default/files/AF012114_0.pdf

    • jonpelto

      Thanks for the information – going to put together a state-wide list…

      We’ll call it – jobs that should have gone to Connecticut residents!

      • JMC

        Kick the snots outta them, Jon!

  • newhavenpublic

    The New Haven TFA contract is pretty spectacular. Here are my selected highlights. (What reasonable district signs something like this?)

    “Teach For America Teachers
    will be hired for vacancies across the full range of grades and subject matters and not restricted or limited to so-called “critical” or “shortage” subjects or grade level vacancies.”

    “To the extent reasonably practicable, School District will
    employ two or more Teachers per individual Partner School.”

    “…School District will offer alternative employment to any
    teacher who is not employed by the first day of the academic school year.”

    “… School District shall use reasonable efforts not to
    terminate any employed Teacher from his/her teaching position in the event of a reduction in force (RIF), layoffs, “leveling” or other consolidation of teaching positions within School District.”

    “Teach For America shall have no obligation to refund to
    School District any amount paid by School District in respect of any Teacher for any reason whatsoever.”

    • Mary Gallucci

      Looking at this makes me think that suing the TFA organization for breach of contract should be simple.
      Of course, suing the Superintendent and BoE for dereliction of duty for entering into such a farcical contract may be of more pressing necessity.

  • cindy

    Maybe it is time to get official.

    What if we formed a group or groups to create “white papers” on these topics? The efficacy of Charter versus Public? Transparency in Educational Policy and Funding in CT? Representation in Connecticut and their stance on public education? An unbiased evaluation of all schools in CT on more than test scores? Full disclosure on upcoming testing and issues related to present and future privacy?

    Time is running out.

    • shade42morrow

      Cindy, I’m not an educator, just a terrified parent and former BOE member, but I would do whatever I could to help with such a group.

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