KY 120 Takes On SB 1

Episode 0118 January 18, 2022 00:32:43
KY 120 Takes On SB 1
Moving Kentucky Forward
KY 120 Takes On SB 1

Show Notes

We talk with Christina Trosper of KY 120 United AFT, to see what the group is up to now, AND to discuss Senate Bill 1 and what is wrong with it. If you care about education, this is an important podcast. (Just want to hear the SB1 discussion? Jump to 15:28.)

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:34 Do you remember all those red hats and red shirts that were in Frankfurt during the pension wars? Of course you do. It was a group called Kentucky one 20 United that started as a Facebook group and grew to become a large impactful presence during all of that work. So what's happened to them since. And what are they working on now? We caught up with Christina Frederick prosper, who is one of the leaders of the group to see what's going on with Kentucky one 20 United. And what bills they're concerned about right now in the legislature. I'm talking today with Christina Frederick transpor, who is with the organization that I used to know as Kentucky one 20 or Kentucky one 20 United or Kentucky United one 20 or one of these names, but they have changed. And I wanted to check in with them not only about how they've changed, but how they see this year's general assembly and what they plan to do about it. So Ms. Frederick prosper, welcome to moving Kentucky forward. Speaker 2 00:01:41 Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it. Speaker 1 00:01:44 So let's right off the bat. Let's clear up the names situation because I know the name has changed. So I just remember a great logo and a lot of red hats and so on and so forth. So tell us what the organization is now and what, how it has changed. Speaker 2 00:02:04 Oh, it kind of a two-prong organization. We started as a grassroots, um, education group, um, just getting information out to people and rallying people behind our pensions. Um, in that time we have grown substantially from March of 2018, really quickly to about 40,000 members about a year ago. Well, over a year ago, um, we started meeting with, um, we wanted a real voice. We wanted a real seat at the table. We wanted to be part of an organization that could really, you know, speak for the needs of public employees, not just teachers, but also social workers and anyone who works for state employees. So we found that, um, type of leadership structure that we wanted and that we felt we needed in AFT a very ground up, um, bottom, you know, bottom up organization to really speak for the rank and file. And we would be more of a legitimate group. And I true union. I'm not just a union in a couple of school districts, but I statewide union and then be able to move into having locals. So we still have our current, um, one 20 United what everybody remembers with the red Kentucky logo. Um, we still have that as our grassroots Facebook organization, but we also are part of a union with AFT and also affiliated with the AFL CIO. We thought this is the best way to give us legitimacy and give a true voice to the rank and file. Speaker 1 00:03:38 And AFT is American Federation of teachers. Is that correct? Correct. Okay. Okay. So your organization is formally part of AFT and AFL CIO, correct. And then there is also a grassroots organization. Speaker 2 00:03:56 Yes. So we're still giving out the information calls to action and things like that to people who aren't a part of the union, because we felt like that, that, that still needed a voice that grass roots. And what we have found is that many of those people, um, within that have came over into the union. Uh, so we usually give our union members, they get emails and updates and we do surveys. We never have, we don't make any decisions without polling. All of our members are given every member a chance to say, whereas in one 20 it was the zone leaders and we would kind of push out that information. We would kind of make decisions. And so we wanted a way that people really felt like they could take action, um, and, and be a part of the, uh, of a true organization that is a true union in every sense of the word and that their voices would be heard, which is something we felt was lacking in current organizations that represent teachers in our state. Speaker 1 00:04:51 Okay. So just wrapping this part up, the Kentucky one 20 is basically a Facebook group with about 40,000 members on the Facebook page. How many people are in the actual union Speaker 2 00:05:07 And the union right now, we started in March and I think we're up to about 800 members full-time members. Okay. Speaker 1 00:05:15 And that's teachers, but it's also other people who wanted to be part of. Speaker 2 00:05:19 Yes. And it's also state employees. And so we have people who work at, um, in different levels of state government as well. Um, right now it is very teacher heavy. Um, just because of that, who that's, those are the people that know us and trust us right now, we are bringing in more and more state employees everyday because we do feel like they need a voice as well. So we're trying to, to still be who people trust us to be, but we also are doing a more of a union organizing as well. And to be honest with you, I know it isn't, I know it sounds like 40,000 versus 800. Um, we have with a pandemic and with everything that's been going on, we are pleased that we are growing every single day, every week we get updates of, of new members across the state. So it's really good. Speaker 1 00:06:04 So when you say union and teachers in Kentucky, you automatically think of, uh, KTA, Kentucky education association. Um, is it possible for somebody I assume it's possible for somebody to be a member of both. They can join KTA and they can join Kentucky one 20 AFT, which is the correct title now, right? Speaker 2 00:06:24 Yes. That is correct. Um, and you can do that. You can be a member of both. Um, there was some pushback, I think, from some people, um, who, you know, what myself were last time, Kea members and, and for us, we felt like it was, uh, another voice for teachers in the state. And if teachers didn't like the bottom down or the top down leadership model that KTA has, that works for some people for us, that just didn't work for us. And so that's why we formed our own union. We talked before Speaker 1 00:06:53 For the interview, started about leadership within Kentucky, one 20 . And the fact that it's really sort of a, not a formal leadership structure, at least not yet. There's not a president, there's not whatever, there's just some people who were sort of the core of which you are. One, have you done any collaboration with Kea or have you talked to them about collaborating on issues? Speaker 2 00:07:18 Um, now we have not. Um, we have been concentrating on growing our numbers, letting people know who we are, what we represent. Um, and there, there have been people who have asked us kind of what the difference is. And basically just kind of goes down to that leadership. And right now, you know, within one 20 AFT, we are, there's about 20 to 25 of us, um, that were, you know, the organizers, the people who were in the beginning of one 20, and we kind of have broke off into committees and we're really concentrating on that. So we haven't really reached out to KTA. Um, they haven't reached out to us. Um, we've been really concentrating on our messaging, who we are, what we represent and kind of hitting those bumps in the road as we go. And, um, you know, I mean, that's just, that's kind of how we are, you know, trying to figure it out, you know, and how do we move from a structure in one 20 where you have zone leaders who were kind of the admins of the groups and them having, you know, like the final say to us, giving all of the information and all of the decision decision-making, you know, when we're making those decisions, we're constantly sending out surveys. Speaker 2 00:08:25 Um, so that's really what we've been looking at right now. I mean, I'm sure in the future, there will be a lot of collaboration between K EA and IFT, um, NEA, nationally and AFT, nationally, both worked together. We saw that in west and that's where we want to go, but right now we're still growing and we're still kind of, you know, going through our growing pains. So I'd say once we get, um, a more steady footing on, and once we get that leadership structure, Ian wants members, um, and people start forming locals. Um, but that could be a year or two down the road. Um, so it's not that we are against KTA at all. It's just that we're trying to grow our sales right now. And I don't know if there's really room for collaboration right now. Speaker 1 00:09:07 Okay. So let's talk about this year's general assembly. Uh, you're already, you're focused on growing. I understand that. Are you planning on taking positions or doing any actions related to bills in this year's assembly? Speaker 2 00:09:28 Um, we have, um, the first thing that we do before we take any action or before we take a stance on any of the Beals, we poll our members. So we send a survey out through email, to all of our members. We put an action alert on our social media saying, Hey, make sure you check your email. We have time sensitive information. So, um, most recently the two things that we've really gotten feedback from our members are the two big things. Um, Senate bill one, um, which we see as very detrimental, um, to education and local, um, control within our education systems in Kentucky. Um, our members overwhelmingly 96% said they had a post it'd be a one. Um, and then we have the same with the governor's budget. We sent out the executive budget, um, and we put the, just the education portion. Um, and we put a comparison between what we knew was in the house budget. Speaker 2 00:10:19 And then what was in the executive budget. And our members overwhelmingly said that they supported, um, the executive budget as far as education was concerned. So it is the voice of our members that are tailing as, and were those members too. So we vote on everything. We do a, we do all of those things. We're analyzing the data. Um, we've been putting out, um, emails to our regular, um, emails to our members. Since I want to say August, we really started picking up in August. Uh, our communications team, um, felt that that was very important and that we made sure that everybody knew what was going on, that decisions weren't being made, you know, behind people's back or that a few people were making those decisions. And then just telling the members, okay, this is what you need to support. That was very important to us. So as of right now, um, our members have overwhelmingly said that they do not support Senate bill one, and that they do support the governor's education portion of his budget. Speaker 1 00:11:17 Have you done, have you encouraged your members or actually led your members to contact any of the legislators about either of these? Speaker 2 00:11:24 Absolutely. Um, we have made sure, you know, sharing the number, um, to the legislative land because we know a lot of our members are very nervous. Um, so we don't know if we're going to have the type of action that we saw with one 20 and 18, 19 and 20, so, or early in 20, um, with the pandemic with people, especially all Macron right now, we had thought when we formed the union official and came out in March of 2021, that we would be able to go out into communities and do more things than local schools, but we've not been able to do that because of the pandemic. So right now we're encouraging emails. We have people that are running postcards, um, people who are seeking out with, you know, within our Facebook groups are emailing back with suggestions and things to do. Um, and so we're doing the same types of things that we saw that were successful in our one 20 grassroots group. Speaker 2 00:12:14 We are doing the same types of calls to action, um, asking people to call, asking people to email, um, doing the same types of things. And we're seeing that people are doing that. So that has been very pleasing to us, but we've also been very careful to, to educate people on exactly why Senate bill one is a bad idea or why the governor's budget, um, is so important. His education portion is so important to us, especially in rural areas. And, and that's been very important to us. And that's very much part of how one 20 was formed. Two was giving information out to people telling them what's happening. Here's the action you need. And that, that seems to have bled over into our union, which we're very, very pleased with. Speaker 1 00:12:57 Are you, I assume then that you're encouraging people to call the comment line at the legislature because that's the best way to get through. Have you had any interactions at all with directly with any of the legislators? Have you had any zoom calls or phone calls or zoom meetings or any, Speaker 2 00:13:17 I think we're, um, we've had a couple phone calls kind of here and there. Um, but it's been pretty much, um, people who already have relationships with legislators have been going in and talking to them and that we kind of keep those confidential. They usually don't tell us exactly who they're speaking to when they're receiving information, if that makes sense. Um, kind of a reporter would kind of, you know, kind of shelter their source. Um, I do have a zoom meeting tomorrow about student B, a one, uh, with Tina about Janesky about, um, from Louisville, um, talking to her, but our reservations are with Senate bill one, she's reached out to us, wanted to know if we could explain it to her, um, while we opposed it. Um, I think a lot of legislators, aren't quite sure, um, what the overall problem is with Senate bill one, but we broke it down pretty well. And our members, I think saw it before anybody else did kind of the problem with Senate bill one. Speaker 1 00:14:09 Well, let's take a moment and talk about it. Uh, what do you as Kentucky AFT and let me stop right here. Is it Kentucky one 20 AFT or just one 20 AFT or Kentucky AFT, which is Speaker 2 00:14:27 Like I said, we argued about this name for weeks and I said it was too much and it would confuse people. It is Kentucky United one 20 AFT. Speaker 1 00:14:37 Okay. So every part of the name is there Kentucky 1 29 at AFT. Speaker 2 00:14:43 Yeah. We wanted to put in, um, because I don't think a lot of people know, um, that, uh, United, but we stay in public employees. Public employees was started by a dear friend of ours, um, who was very much a part of beginning one 20, like a lot of people. And so we wanted to allude to that and we wanted to let people know that we were still one 20 cause people recognize that name, but then we had to slap the AFC on there too. So this nine convention went round and round and round because we wanted, and I kept saying, it's a mouthful. Nobody's going to remember it. And, um, but I think after a while you like, sometimes they'll be like, now what's our nine. Speaker 1 00:15:21 Okay, well, I will, I will remember it for now and I will, I will get it straight. So why don't you take a moment and tell us why your group opposes Senate bill one? Speaker 2 00:15:35 The biggest red flag for us was the idea of taking curriculum and budgetary decisions away from site-based decision making councils, um, Senate bill one, when, when you're talking about curriculum and you're talking to someone who's an educator. And so when you say curriculum, what I hear is how I teach the standards. The state decides my standards, the Kentucky state legislature decided what I was teaching in my curriculum is how I teach it. So we know that there's been a lot of talk amongst our legislature. We have seen the prefab deals coming from the Republican party as it was 14 and 16 house bills, 14 and 16, which specifically dealt with anti CRT. Well, we knew this was coming. And so we got to looking at Senate bill one. I thought it was really odd that even in the testimony, nobody wanted to talk about the curriculum piece that was in there. Speaker 2 00:16:29 Some of it that was spoke about that Sally Sug was completely, um, it was incorrect. Um, it was not at all to what happens in districts. If she's allowed those types of things to happen in her district, then, uh, don't believe she's probably good at her job. Um, um, it, Sally Sug a few years ago, she was, um, part of Katie E Kevin and I was in a failing school. And so I have my own impressions of her. Um, but what I will say is this, that curriculum piece, you're taking the curriculum from the people in the school, the teachers who are teaching it to parents who, um, parent the children in that school, you're taking that decision away from them while on the surface, sounds like, okay, well, that's not a big deal, but it becomes a big deal because our SaaS-based legislation also says that if you have a minority population that it's 8% or higher, you have to have a minority member and apparent election for minority member. Speaker 2 00:17:23 And you have to have a teacher minority neighbor. This, we feel about turning SPDs away from a decision making body into only consultated when it comes to curriculum, you're taking those voices and you're silencing them. And we've seen that over and over again with this legislature, we've seen it for the past four years. It's like constant silencing of the experts. And so, as I really got to dig in deep was Senate bill one. I saw some other things I'm specifically dealing with site-based and how that would look their claim is that they want to take politicization out of our classrooms. But I actually, what they're doing by the way, my only superintendent to decide all the curriculum for an entire district, you are completely politicizing those decisions because you're taking the voice of the people in the school. You're taking the voice away from the experts who teach the subject and know of instance, superintendents, superintendents have gotten their jobs, you know, for whatever reason, they're very good principals. Speaker 2 00:18:21 They were great teachers. They were great educators. The problem is they're only trained in one area. So I'm a social studies, our current superintendent who I, who I really want. We disagree politically, but I, he and I get along fairly well. He's a middle school, social studies teacher by trade. It would be hard for him to understand the nuances of upper level math courses. That's where you rely on your teachers in most districts and the testimony before the Senate struck us all is very odd. All of us are when I say all of us in the group of organizers for one 20 AFT, we are from far west or Kentucky Floyd county. I'm from Knox county. We have people from Fayette. We had people from all over the state. So you're running the gamut of urban and rural districts. And what we've all say collectively is that the curriculum work that we do, we do every year, we get in groups we're, but we do vertical alignment. Speaker 2 00:19:18 We do horizontal alignment, vertical alignment needs. We're looking at, I'm looking at social studies, how it's taught from kindergarten and I teach high school and we make sure everything's lined up the daily learning targets. The pacing guides, these are, this is our craft, and this is what we do. And by taking that away from us, you are taking away our expertise. Now you're going to buy some canned curriculum from some, you know, person who writes curriculum in the United States and says, oh yeah, we addressed Kentucky state standards. And what you're doing is you're giving them somebody who knows nothing about my students, all of the power. So that's one thing. That's the critical piece to us. And we felt like that piece about curriculum was put in there because they think we're teaching the artsy in our classrooms, which is not happening at all. And our argument is if you're teaching CRT concepts, those come in in the, what we're teaching that is in the standards, which the legislature for me, for social studies, which is if you're going to teach CRT, that's where it's going to be. Speaker 2 00:20:20 This thing, legislature passed those standards in 2019. So it's, it seemed odd to us to throw that in there. So far as principal hiring, that was one of the pieces that took away from Sybase. That's not an issue for us, um, as they even issues that I think people thought it would be, um, site-based councils. Yes, they hire principals to superintendents in there, but we know site-based cancels cannot hold those principals. Um, can't hold them accountable for anything that has to come from the superintendent the superintendent is doing. So hiring of the principal in the same way that principals are hiring of teachers in the building, that wasn't an issue. So curriculum was a big issue for us. And that was the biggest issue that we have in the red flag. The other thing that we noticed in there was a bit budgetary concerns. So the way it operates right now is the board of education gives the budget to each school. Speaker 2 00:21:12 And then that school decides on how to spend that money. Now it's earmarked. We can always cut certain things on curriculum or instructional a or things like that, but now you're taking that away from the schools. So if my school needs to put a little bit more money into something and my superintendent doesn't think so, then he's going to decide for my school rather than me being able to decide for my students. So again, it's taking the people who have the day to day contact with these students and know their needs better than anybody else. It's taking those decisions away from us, again, limiting local control. So they said, this is about transparency. This is about local control. If that were the case, then what if it was, if they would have proposed, Hey, any curriculums that you're going to purchase, we would like to see them put on, you know, for the public to see for 30 days and have a public commentary. Speaker 2 00:22:00 That would have been fine because we're not hiding anything. Um, but instead their knee-jerk reaction was taking everything away from the teachers, which again, I feel like it's politically motivated. Also. The other thing that I noticed in there was about non-disclosure agreements. Now I teach in a very small rural district and in a, in a small rural district, your football coach or your head basketball coach rules, the university. And right now, what happens is you have like you through your athletic director, principal, assistant principal, maybe some parents, um, that student on an interview committee, every school kind of does it differently. But what we do a lot of times is some of those interviews can be very contentious. Somebody might come outside that interview and say, well, they never asked me about this, or they never tell me that other people in the interview can tell people in the community, this is what happened. Speaker 2 00:22:51 I was on the interview committee. And I can tell you what happened now with you have to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Now it's not just that you would be subject to penalties of law or whatever civil penalties. No, you can lose your teaching certificate. If you say anything that happens within that interview, that is a complete lack of transparency within the community. I know of many districts that have had very contentious interviews with athletic coaches, with other people, people who, for their, um, you know, different positions in the school that are politically motivated sometimes. And maybe you hire the person that everybody in the town wanted, or maybe you hired somebody else. And you need to be able to communicate that with your community, to ease their fears, to understand what it was. And if we're sign a nondisclosure agreements, that's completely taken transparency out of that process and as a, the local community and a disservice to our students. Speaker 2 00:23:48 So it feels, it feels like they're saying it's about dream state, you're in state, and it's about letting the public have input and what's happening. But actually what's happening is it's creating more of a barrier between the public and the schools. It's creating more of a communication barrier. We have site-based meetings. Site-based councils are not a new thing in Kentucky. We've been doing it for 32 years. Um, they've evolved a little bit with the process of re and we're okay with an evolution of that process. I wouldn't be opposed personally, if you had, you know, more classified people on site base, I would not be opposed if you had more parents on Saturdays, because nothing that we're doing within our schools is secretive is, um, you know, we're trying to fleece the public, but this bill makes it feel like that everything we're doing behind closed doors and privately, and that could be further from the truth. So instead of coming in and fixing, and maybe talking to us and saying, Hey teachers, how would stop these council work data for you? They've just come of gutted it completely. And in doing that, we'll destroy all of the progress that we've made through care in our state. So Speaker 1 00:24:57 You talking about polarization, I assume there've been discussions about the fact that Republicans have said that they are focusing on school boards and getting seats on school boards. So then they would have control over the superintendent who has been given this power from the site-based decision makers. So that's one of the issues that I see is that we're focusing, we're creating a choke point for politicization. Speaker 2 00:25:29 Yes. And right now, and that was one of the points that we put into our members in the email that Senate bill one. And that was kind of the alarming thing for us because I said, you know, if you're in a more conservative district, then they're going to choose more conservative curriculum. If you're in a more liberal district, they're going to choose more liberal curriculums. And we can't have that in our classrooms. Teachers thought very hard to put our own personal biases at the door and give our students that information, allow them to think for themselves. Um, as a social studies teacher, I was excited when our new standards came out, it was lips about memorizing facts. It was all about inquiry was about getting these students, these different points of information and saying, Hey, decide on this, pick a claim, you know, support your claim with evidence. It's all about teaching in the think critically. And when you take away that from a teacher, you are taking our classrooms and turning them into propaganda machines, running them like businesses, which can not be done in a school. Um, and it is a disservice to our students and it goes against everything of who we are as Americans and why we have free public education in this country. We all know why we have it, why it's essential to have it. And just having students only hear one perspective is a disservice to our students. Speaker 1 00:26:50 There is so much more that you and I could talk about in this space, but I want to recognize your time. So I don't want to take all the time. I could take two last questions. One, have you issued any press releases or have you contacted the media about your concerns? Speaker 2 00:27:12 Um, that is our next step. As we got through right now, we were looking at the budget. We have done press releases about, um, the governor's budget for education, which came out last Monday. Um, we held off on really pushing Senate bill one. That's really going to be pushed this week. So we wanted to have people, um, cause it can be overwhelming when you're just shoved all this information. And we wanted to give people time to digest the budget, understood what their thoughts were on the budget. And now we're really beginning to push Senate bill one. As we see that it makes the house, as it's moving into the committees, there, there will be more of a push with our members and uh, more of public statements in dealing with the media. So far, Senate bill one is concerned. We want it to take, take it one step at a time. We know everything moves quickly during legislative session. So we're being very mindful that the majority of our members are teachers and we are hanging by a thread right now. And um, so we're trying to be mindful of that mindful that we need to, we have a sense of urgency, but we also want to take it one issue at a time. And so this week will be more of a push on Senate bill one. Speaker 1 00:28:17 Lastly, is there anything that I didn't ask you that you wanted me to ask you or anything that you wanted to bring up that we haven't discussed? Speaker 2 00:28:26 I think that the, the biggest issue that I think that we're seeing and I think it's getting lost in all of the, he said, she said political gangs and Frankfurt is our students. And putting politics aside for our students is what is best. And if I look at the governor's budget, it's a very student-friendly budget. Um, I personally would be okay with my res being taken out as long as I knew that my students wouldn't have mental health services or transportation would be paid for. And there'll be so many more opportunities for our students personally, do I want a 5% raise? Absolutely. Do I think it deserves one? Absolutely. Um, that's not something we say out loud. A lot of times as teachers we're used to be in poor. Um, when I look at Senate bill one, it is an attack on our students and it is attack on teachers. Speaker 2 00:29:12 And I wholeheartedly believe that the majority is, is very much looking to punish teachers because we elected Andy Bashir, overwhelmingly teachers in the state, elected him, supported him. Um, they may have changed their mind since then. I don't know. Um, but I will say it feels very vindictive. It doesn't feel like I'm, I'm not seeing any ideas proposals to go to move education forward in our state. I don't see anything that's going on. They talk about reading levels. I don't see anything that they've proposed that is going to help our students achieve the reading grade levels that they need to be on. And I'll see anything in there that's to help our students. It feels like it's like punishment against teachers, which in turn punishes our students. And I think that's where we are as a Commonwealth. And I think we need to stop and think about who we're punishing, um, when we're putting in laws and we're putting in policies that are meant to show those teachers that we don't want them to. Speaker 2 00:30:09 I mean, it's just, it feels very personal. It's hard not to take it personal. Um, with everything that's been said about education and Kentucky and especially about teachers. And that's a really, that's a really hard thing for me to swallow when I walk in my classroom and I'll look at my students who have been in 12 different foster care homes. So you have parents who are in jail, who are dealing with horrible cases of abuse that we're trying to mitigate that are dealing with mental health issues and trauma. And they're telling me that I'm not an expert on what those students need. And I, and that, that I think that hurts me more than anything. And I think that that was kind of my argument during the pension crisis too, was who will be the people that will feel my shoes when I'll leave this profession, if we don't have a pension. And I think we're starting to see that now as the teacher shortages, we see all of these things. We see some shortages, people are not willing to go into classrooms for menial pay and the stress and the jobs that are put on us. And it is constantly an attack and we've been fighting for four years. And I think our biggest thing right now is trying to try to let the public, see that this isn't just a teacher issue. It's a community issue. And that's really what we're pushing right now. Speaker 1 00:31:18 Stina Frederick prosper. Thank you so much for your time and keep us, keep us informed on what your groups group is doing. Uh, I look forward to talking to you again, as we move through the session that was Christina, Fredrik prosper of Kentucky, one 20 United AFT. I want to thank her for her time and for her expertise, especially on Senate bill one, I found the discussion informative, and I really appreciate her digging in with us on that bill. I look forward to seeing more stuff from Kentucky, one 20 United AFT and the larger group. As we move into the rest of the session. If you enjoyed this podcast, you need to go subscribe to our moving Kentucky forward podcast. The simplest way to do it is to go to the website, K And up at the top, you will see a menu choice where to follow us. And there are all sorts of ways you can subscribe to the podcast right there. Thank you for listening. And we'll see you in the next episode of moving Kentucky for

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