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TEXAS: SCHOOL CHOICE…. PAY FOR PLAY

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I have NEVER witnessed so much political corruption and pay to play politics as I have with the School Choice agenda in Texas. This past September, I attended a School Choice Policy Summit hosted by the the not so TEXAS CONSERVATIVE COALITION. This meeting was nothing but a rally cry to promote the agenda of School Choice in Texas through the use of government subsidies titled “Education Savings Accounts” (ESA). Both School Choice and Education Savings Accounts are misnomers. We already have school choice in Texas and Education Savings Accounts (ESA) are government subsidies.

Speakers at the Pro School Choice Policy Summit were Lt Gov Dan Patrick, Senator Larry Taylor, Senator Bettencourt, State Representatives Rick Miller, Dennis Paul, Mike Schofield, and Dwayne Bohac.  Stacy Hock with Texas for Educational Opportunity and Empower Texas Board member, Mayes Middleton their “money buddies” joined them. Middleton also sits on the board of Texas Public Policy Foundation. TPPF is also a huge advocate of School Choice. Texas Public Policy Foundation provided a brochure titled “The Archilles Heel of Texas. Improving College Eligibility Rates through K-12 Education Savings Accounts.”

I could not help but notice on the bottom of the brochure was Mr. Common Core (aka) Jeb Bush’s company “ExcelinEd” listed as one of the sponsors.

 

EXCELINED

 

 

Below you can see a few who fund ExcelinEd.  NOTE: BILL & MELINDA GATES

 

EXcelineddonors

 

Stacy Hock

STACY HOCK

 

DAVID MAYES  MIDDLETON

 

 

I listened for almost 2 hours to the push for School Choice. As the meeting wrapped up they did not welcome questions from those in the audience. I approached Senator Bettencourt afterwards and mentioned to him “I as a homeschool mother am concerned about this due to Government encroachment.  Also I do not like the government in my business knowing what I am doing and where I am”.  When I said this to him  he walked away waving his mobile phone in the air stating “you need to be more concerned about this, (the mobile phone) which always knows where your are”.  I was shocked at his response and lack of professionalism and disturbed that I had paid his company thousands over the years to protest my property taxes. NEVER AGAIN.

After further research into the money. I was shocked at the thousands of dollars that Stacy Hock and Mayes Middleton combined, have contributed to Texas politicians.

**NOTE** Stacy Hock recently returned from New York, She has no education experience. Her experience in Technology. With that said she has made her way up into the helms of the Texas Education Establishment. Governor Abbott, Mr. Pro School Choice advocate, appointed Stacy Hock to the Texas Commission of Next Generation of Assessments and Accountability. Senator Larry Taylor (author of School Choice SB 3)  also sits on this Commission. The Commission just turned over their final report in September asking Gov Abbott to align our State Standards/Accountability with the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

You may wonder how Stacy Hock can arrive out of nowhere and be placed in such a position to make recommendations regarding the education of Thousands of Texas Children. Look no further.

greg abbott stacy

 

 

I will highlight our new Texas Representative Briscoe Cain. Mr. Money man, Mayes Middleton and Briscoe seem to be tied at the hip on the School Choice policy issue. Could it be due to his campaign funding? Mayes Middleton, other Empower Texans board members, and unfortunately school choice advocate Texas Home School Coalition have contributed thousands to Briscoe’s campaign. Despite the fact that this is another government program reigning in Texas Home Schoolers and placing all those under the umbrella of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act,  through campaign donations,  Liberty Caucus member Briscoe Cain is part of School “Choice” elite special interest group.

 

Briscoe money trail

                                          Rep. Briscoe Cain Money Trail

 

Representative Bricoe went on  Twitter calling Texas moms that are busy schooling their children and are genuinely concerned that School Choice legislation will affect their homeschooling freedom Kool-Aid Drinkers. Briscoe Kool=Aid

 

David “Mayes” Middleton funded Konni Burton’s campaign $5000.00.

 

2017-02-17_9-28-07

 

To make matters worse School Choice advocate, Peggy Venable, posts the following photo on her Face Book page cheering their lavish dinner this week hosted by the not so Texas Conservative Coalition.  Are you seeing a pattern here?

Bricoe is holding a sign up titled EDCHOICE. EDCHOICE is a national School Choice policy pusher aligned with none other than Jeb Bush and ExcelinEd funded by Bill Gates.

 

So when our Texas Representatives go to Austin claiming they are conservative. I believe it will be few are far between that truly represent their constituents and adhere to their values. Sad but true.

 

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Oh the tangled web we weave. 

 

Afterwards Peggy posted the following on facebook. Many responded including myself of our concerns and the money ties to this School Choice shenanigan.  Peggy Venable deleted all the post and blocked many of us. Some of the things we posted are below.

PEGGY VENABLE

 

nickii truesdall

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PLAIN UMBRELLA

 

 

 

 

 

Mayes Middleton/Empower Texans  Money Flow Chart Coming soon.

 

If you are interesting in who is funding your state rep or senator check out the following links.

 

This is an easy one. Type in their name and click funding on the right.

https://votesmart.org/education/campaign-finances#.WKdFMX_cDIY

 

If there funding is not listed you  can go to the Texas Ethics Commission and see all their contribution and expenditures. It is just a more time consuming. If you will go to the link on the left titled Search Campaign Finance and Lobbying Reports. You will click Campaign Finance once again and do the simple form. Enter their last/first name and your good to go. If you have trouble navigating your way through their call their office. They have always been more than willing to help.

https://www.ethics.state.tx.us/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PROPOSED A-F ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM

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An editorial opinion by A. Patrick Huff, Ph.D.:

This past week the Texas Education Agency took the school accountability system to a new low, releasing a “what if” letter grade tabulation for each school and school district in the state of Texas.  This report has sent shock waves across virtually every public school district in the state.  The report was a “what if” because the letter grades are not official.  It was only released to let all the public school officials, teachers, parents and students know what their school and school district would receive if the official results were released this year.  The letter grades are based on the 2015-2016 school report card and other factors.  I say other factors because to figure out all the other factors and understand them, you could be eligible to work at mission control in NASA.  Yes, it is that complicated.  I have looked at the formulas and, trust me, I feel pretty stupid right about now.  I’m not going to bore you with the details of how each grade was determined in this article, but I am going to try and make sense of it (or nonsense).

Here is a little background to bring everyone up to speed on what all of this means.  To begin with, Texas did not invent the A-F system.  The first state to use it was Florida, under Governor Jeb Bush.  It is now in at least 15 states.  In early 2016 the Texas Legislature under House Bill 2804, established guidelines for a new state education assessment and accountability system.  The purpose of the new program was to conform to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that had previously been passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama in December of 2015.  HB 2804 also established a commission to review the bill and make recommendations before anything became official.  This review board was called The Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessment and Accountability.  They met in Austin seven times with each meeting dedicated to hearing from “experts” in the field testifying about what the research and practices demonstrate about each phase of the bill’s mandates.  At some of these meetings the Commission allowed public testimony.  I went to Austin and testified in one of these meetings so I got a first hand look at how it operated.  Here is the TEA website where you can read about the Commission and pull up the Commission’s Final Report to the Governor:  http://tea.texas.gov/2804Commission.aspx

In the Commission report is the recommendation to approve what had already been written in HB 2804 regarding using an A-F grading format for schools and school districts.  Consider the language used in the Commission Draft Report under Long Term Vision, item 6, page 10.

6. Align the state accountability system with ESSA requirements.  Align the state    and federal accountability systems to ensure that the results are consistent and      share common goals. When the federal regulations regarding ESSA are released    in fall 2016, Texas will be able to use the guidance provided by the  specific federal regulations as it develops the A–F accountability system. An A–F accountability system to identify underperforming schools in Texas is scheduled to be implemented in the 2017–2018 school year  (Texas Education Agency, Next Generation Assessment Accountability, 2016, p. 10).

To note the importance of the first sentence is to state the obviously ridiculous.  The move to change the accountability system for schools and school districts to an A-F format is a federal requirement.  Once again, as I have stated time and time again, Texas is but a mini-federal U.S. Department of Education.  This is why we cannot seem to get away from doing what the federal government wants us to do when it comes to education policy.  The loss of all sovereignty occurred when each state came under the federal waiver to get out from under impossible mandates of No Child Left Behind.  Texas applied for and received their waiver in 2013.  Here is the link where you can read the entire waiver request if you so desire.  file://localhost/Users/huff_fitness/Downloads/TEA_Final_ESEA_Waiver_091613 (2).pdf

(You may get a warning on this website since it comes from my documents.  Don’t worry, it is safe to open).

If you are interested in how we moved from No Child Left Behind into ESSA and some how fell under Common Core, even though the Texas Legislature passed a law saying we would never come under Common Core, it’s all in this waiver application.  Please note, College and Career Ready Standards are the Common Core Standards.  Also in this application is where schools fell under Priority and Focus categories.  The federal Annual Measureable Objectives (updated Adequate Yearly Progress) is also in this waiver request.

Let me now turn your attention to the most important part of this article.  Superintendents across the state are decrying the issuance of the A-F ratings.  Rightfully so, I might add, they are putting out memorandums and videos that denounce these ratings and point to the unfairness of reducing a schools overall worth to a letter grade.  Yes, it’s true, a school cannot be judged based on the outcomes of a standardized test given once a year.  Here, though, is the issue. Where have the superintendents been on the outcry?  This has been going on since the early 90’s and with more high stakes involved since 2002 with the passage of No Child Left Behind.  Schools cannot be judged as Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable, Met Standard, Unacceptable, or Needs Improvement based upon the yearly given standardized test.  It is a flawed policy and it increasingly affects schools negatively who have high percentages of low socio-economic students.  It discriminates with sanctions and endless shaming of the students, the teachers, the administration, the parents and the community where the school is located.  It is unacceptable that this horrid accountability system continues.  Now with the A-F system the lobbyist controlled congress (both state and federal) implements their latest in a long series of heavy handed tactics to demonstrate their disdain for the education system.  I mention lobbyist because education is an industry that makes billions of dollars every year off the backs of our children, and more specifically, by off the backs of our children in Title One schools.  Everyone knows this, everyone discusses this issue; but nothing gets done.  Our students are but guinea pigs forced to swallow the latest magic bullet curriculum program that the school district purchases for thousands of dollars.  I mention disdain by the legislators because I have been in the committee meetings, and I have testified before both the Texas House and the Texas Senate Education Committees only to be told my time is up and thank you very much.  Senator Larry Taylor did allow me more than the customary three minutes to speak, but my recommendations fell on deaf ears, just as every recommendation that came from a public speaker.  The only recommendations that were followed were those that came from the invited speakers, many of which came from the corporate sector.  The Education Committees in both houses of congress and the State Board of Education in Texas feel as though it is their duty to save public education.  The Lt. Governor and Governor feel the same.  To them, teachers can’t be trusted to teach the students.  Principals can’t be trusted to lead and manage.  Superintendents can’t be trusted to organize and implement the best, most trusted method of instruction.  No, it is the state and federal governments, the lobbyist, and the corporations that must be in charge of teaching our students.  After all, as Senator Taylor said to me when I testified to his committee, before the legislators took control students were graduating that could not read.  There was a crisis in the nation.  The government had to step in and take control.  I told him that students are still graduating that can’t read.  We don’t like it, every teacher is working to keep that from happening, but that is what happens in a free and democratic society.  A student can choose to fail if they so choose.  We don’t like it, but it is always going to be that way in a free and democratic society.  We have been under this system of accountability for going on three decades and what do we have?  We have a failed system where the controllers have their boot on the throat of every teacher, principal and superintendent and the pressure is increasing with each new phase of the accountability system.

So now we have the A-F system of school accountability.  Let me give you some examples of how some school districts did around the state.  The grading system of schools is broken down into four domains.  There will be a fifth added next year, but for now we will just discuss the four.  They are broken down as:

Domain I:    Student Achievement (how all the students performed on the STAAR test)

Domain II:   Student Progress (evaluating student progress in 10 student subgroup         categories, broken down into 7 ethnic groups, Special Education,  and English Language Learners, and their progress from the previous year’s results).

Domain III:  All tests from all grades results in the economically disadvantaged student       population only (These scores are compared with those from the previous  year and judged by improvement or regression).

Domain IV:  Post-Secondary Readiness (Elementary evaluated on absentee rate.

Middle Schools evaluated on absentee rate and dropout rate.

High Schools graded on a number of indicators, including absentee rate,       graduation rate, dropout rate, career and tech programs offered, AP and IB   courses offered, and a few other indicators).

Of course this is a simplified version and no mathematical statistical formulas are given to determine the outcome, so keep that in mind as I run down these results.  Keep in mind, also, that these results in no way indicate the worth or value of the education the students are receiving in these school districts.  Any comparison needs to be made with the understanding that the district with the most challenges have the most difficulty with this very flawed system that needs to be eliminated.

SCHOOL DISTRICT  DOMAIN I  DOMAIN II  DOMAIN III DOMAIN IV
ALDINE ISD D D B C
AMARILLO ISD C C B F
ARLINGTON C B B D
AUSTIN ISD B B C D
BEAUMONT ISD D C D D
BROWNSVILLE ISD C A A C
CONROE ISD B A B C
CY-FAIR B A B C
DALLAS ISD D B B B
EL PASO C B B D
FORT BEND B A C D
HIGHLAND PARK A A C
HOUSTON ISD C B B D
KLEIN ISD B B C C
LEWISVILLE ISD B B D C
MAGNOLIA ISD B C D D
PORT ARTHUR F C D D
ROUND ROCK A A C C
SAN ANTONIO F C D F
SPRING ISD D C D C
SPRING BRANCH B B D C
TOMBALL ISD A A B C

I hope that I have represented each district’s scores accurately.  My apologies if there are any errors.

Of course, this list is very brief and only represents a small portion of the school districts in the state.  They are, however, all large school districts with the exception of Highland Park.  Highland Park was included in this list simply to point out the disparity of the system.  This is not a slam against Highland Park.  They are a very good school district.  They do, however, have zero economically disadvantaged students.  At least none show up on the school report card.  This is why they did not receive a score in Domain III.  Highland Park received a “C” in Domain IV only because they went down in their Post Secondary Readiness Index from 96 in 2015 to 92 in 2016.  The score of 92 in Domain IV is an excellent score, but because Highland Park went down from a score of 96 in 2015 (the target score for Domain IV is 57 for high schools), they were shamed with a grade of “C”.  So, the public assumes Highland Park is just average in Domain IV, yet they had a very high score of 92.

Looking at the list provided in this article, I’m sure, makes you scratch your head and wonder how a district received the grade it did in each of the domains.  Some of the grades you can understand and others you can’t figure out how the grade could be what it is.  Due to the ramifications that go along with a letter grade, and the impressions it makes in the eyes of the public, you can see why the school officials are yelling from the rooftops that this is an unfair system and in no way reflects their districts quality and worth.  Yet it has been this way from the beginning of the Accountability System.  Those of you who have followed my articles and read my book, The Takeover of Public Education in America: The Agenda to Control Information and Knowledge Through the Accountability System, know that the central theme I keep repeating is the unjust nature and discriminatory practice the accountability system is for the entire nation, not just Texas.  But Texas is my state, so I concentrate on Texas, where I live and work.

Superintendents of the great State of Texas, I put this situation in your hands.  I think this is personal to you now.  Before, the old system of “met standards” or “needs improvement” didn’t quite have the sting of a letter grade.  Everyone identifies with a letter grade.  The Congress of Texas thinks this will motivate everyone directly involved with student testing outcomes to improve.  What Congress doesn’t realize is that school officials and teachers have been doing everything in their power to get the scores up, yet with little effect.  This is because no matter what program is brought in, or what guru is provided to help teachers teach better, the same demographic factors are almost impossible to overcome.  This, also, has nothing to do with ethnicity.  Nothing!  The schools success rises or falls with the percentages of students in Eco-Disadvantaged, English Language Learners, and the Mobility Rate for the school and school district.  The Mobility Rate indicates the number of students that arrive after school begins and/or leaves before the school year ends.

Superintendents, I call on you to organize.  Organize not around TASA.  In my opinion, The Texas Association of School Administrators has not served you well.  They have kept you in the status quo.  You must have an independent voice in order to get the attention of the state legislators.  Yes, the federal government wants this A-F system, but they have also said they want states to have more autonomy in determining their accountability systems.  Use this as your leverage point.  Apart from the parents of the state, whom the legislators have already demonstrated they do not listen to, the superintendents of the state are the only hope for reversing the A-F grading system, and the entire accountability system.  The whole system is flawed to its core and needs to be eliminated.  Let’s all come together and speak in one voice to eliminate the A-F grading system first, then the entire accountability system.

Dr. Patrick Huff is the author of “The Takeover of Public Education in America: The Agenda to Control Information and Knowledge Through the Accountability System”, 2015. The book can be found at http://www.aphuff.com.  Dr. Huff is a retired middle and high school principal with 34 years in the public education profession. He currently works as an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.  He lives with his wife, Connie, of 35 years in Tomball, Texas and can be reached at aphuff51@gmail.com

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Texas Legislator are you Complicit?

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LT GOV DAN PATRICK THROWS TX HOME SCHOOLERS UNDER THE BUS!

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caution-under-bus

Unfortunately our “supposedly” conservative Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick and many of our Texas Senators and Representatives are throwing the future generation of Texas Home School families under the bus.  For months now Lt Gov Dan Patrick and other senators and representatives have been making their rounds across the state in hopes of selling their legislative priority of “School Choice” which will ultimately change the landscape of home schooling in Texas.  Though the words “School Choice” sound great please do not be deceived. This “School Choice” initiative should alarm any freedom loving home school family.

 

dan-patrick

Texas Lt Gov Dan Patrick

The proposed Legislation that has yet to be filed intends to set up a State Funded Education Savings Account (ESA) for any student approved. NOTE: This is not you saving your own money like a Health Savings Account. This is the state funding quarterly an undetermined dollar amount to your (ESA) account. This money can be used to attend private school, purchase “STATE APPROVED” curriculum, classes, computers, etc, etc.

 

WHY HOME SCHOOL FAMILIES NEED TO BE CONCERNED

 

  1. With state funds comes govt control and STRINGS with yearly mandated state or norm reference testing. “What if they fail the test are they still eligible for funding”?
  2. ***With testing comes the Data Mining of your child. For those unaware there is a TEXAS STUDENT LONGITUDINAL DATA SYSTEM where public school students personal information is stored and available to 3rd parties. Billions of dollars have been spent from the federal level in collecting student data across the US. Most parents are unaware of this un-nerving fact. Due to a change in the FERPA law there is no longer student privacy.
  3. The funds can only be used to purchase state approved material. Will we able to continue to purchase Christian material in educating our children? If “yes” how long will that last? BELIEVE ME THE LIBERAL ACLU WILL BE ALL OVER THIS!                                                                                                                                                                                                  NOTE:  In 2011 the state passed SB 6 allowing School Districts to purchase any curriculum they wanted being text books, online learning, etc WITHOUT STATE APPROVAL.  With THE SCHOOL CHOICE program you can only purchase  TEACHING MATERIAL FROM STATE APPROVED VENDORS. Who are these approved vendors and who is approving them?
  4. Current home school or private school students will not be eligible to apply for the program. Students would have to enroll and attend public school for and undetermined amount of days prior to being eligible for the funds. Rumor has it would be 100 days. (They have to get you into their student data system first.) Remember this is DATA. DATA DATA DATA!!
  5. ESA accounts will be audited annually (randomly) by a State office to review the “educational expenses” parents pay for with the account in an effort to prevent fraud and abuse. (talk about up front and in your business)

 

Just a few thoughts.

  1. This is just another Socialist liberal wealth redistribution plan under the disguise of “School Choice” More SOCIALISM.
  2. Many of the same state legislators  that have our public schools in shambles today are now pushing school choice. Check out this blog about Senator Larry Taylor who chairs the Texas Senate Education Committee and the role he has played in Texas Education. He did read my blog and left the following comment for me. I did ask hoping he would respond why was my post  considered a conspiracy and that he thought I created in my own mind. I have yet to receive a response. larry-taylor-school-choice
  3. Our legislators have been spending months with paid lobbyist promoting this agenda. Seems to me they are more concerned with funding their pockets and not with their constituents.
  4. You will hear repeatedly the verbiage “This will EMPOWER THE PARENTS to become more involved in their child’s education. I don’t know about you but I was empowered to pull my kids out of the public school without state $$$. Parents who are going to be involved in their child’s education do not need state funds to empower them.

 

 

A MUST SEE… THE REAL GOALS OF SCHOOL CHOICE!!

 

Action Needed

 

  1. Find out who your local Senators and House Reps are and tell them NO to School Choice. Here is a link to find out who they are. http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.asp
  2. Call Lt Governor Dan Patrick’s office @  (512) 463-0001   EMAI: @ LTGConstituent.Affairs@ltgov.state.tx.us
  3. Join this facebook group TEXAS FOR HOMESCHOOL FREEDOM.
  4. I will talk about this more later but I have been very unhappy with the position that Texas Home School Coalition has taken on this initiative. They have come out supporting it and have censored those of us that do not agree by blocking us on their facebook page. I personally left a message for Tim Lambert and have yet to hear from him. I finally called and asked them to refund my membership money which they did. Call and let them know your concerns as well. Ph# (806) 744-4441
  5. Educate your friends and family as to what is taking place.

 

 

UPDATE 1/25/17

I attended the school choice rally in Austin yesterday (Tuesday). I stood there in shock as our Texas Lt.Governor Dan Patrick proclaimed to all these children mostly minorities that “You have to be rich to have school choice” (see video below).  Wow. Did he go to Bernie Sanders Training classes? And we wonder why the younger generation today has the give me mentality that the government owes them everything.

 

 

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Is “School Choice” a Scam?

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Senator Larry Taylor is making his rounds across the great state of Texas promoting
“School Choice”. Sounds terrific doesn’t it? So did the “Affordable Care Act”. What parents would not want choices when it comes to schooling their children.  In reality parents have the choices today to educate their children however they wish, they just do not receive tax dollars for doing so. Can that be good?  Well it depends on how much your want the government entrenched in your daily affairs. To be honest I don’t know of one government handout that if strings are not attached initially they will be eventually.

money-carrot

 

Is this another government trick of hanging out the money carrot to rein in those that are not accountable to the government now? For example those homeschooling or those in private schools?

I will cover the financial aspect of this at another time.

What is confusing is the agenda of supposed”Conservative” school choice advocate,  Texas Senator Taylor. Taylor who sits on the Texas Commission on Next Generation of Assessment of Accountability just called for the State of Texas to align its student accountability standards with that of the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA steers away for academics to implementing, testing and data mining your children on Social Emotional Learning (SEL). What could be his motive. Does he really have the students best interest at heart here? Does he care that our Texas public schools are abusing the children with the social, emotional crap. Has he proposed any legislation to fix any of it? Getting rid of the TEXAS ASSOCIATION of SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS (TASA) and TEXAS ASSOCIATION of SCHOOL BOARDS (TASB) and their progressive, liberal, federal agenda would be a great start.

Senator Taylor and all the other republicans in the Texas Legislation have authored and sponsored bill after bill that have our Texas Public Schools implementing progressive teaching philosophies as well as data mining our children. Now they are looking for a way out. Not so fast guys!  In reality these guys/gals have created a problem and now they are going to create another government bureaucracy to fix it?

Lord help us.

 

More about the true “School Choice” agenda.

http://www.newswithviews.com/iserbyt/iserbyt112.htm

 

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