Video: Fired RI teachers capitulate, can return to work

posted at 2:55 pm on May 17, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

For the background of this story, be sure to read my post from February, but here are the broad parameters. Central Falls High School has been a long-running disaster in its depressed town in Rhode Island, graduating only half of its students. The teachers refused to work an additional 25 minutes per day and committing to additional tutoring, despite earning over $70K per year in a town where the average salary was less than a third of that, at $22K. The union balked at the concessions, and the district decided to fire all of the instructors — an outcome tacitly applauded by none other than Barack Obama himself, as CNN’s report notes.

Now the teachers will come back to work, but only after capitulating to the district:

The two sides said Sunday a so-called transformation plan for Central Falls High School for the coming school year will allow current staff to return to the school without having to reapply for their jobs. Under the plan, teachers will work longer school days, provide more after-school tutoring, and agree to a new evaluation system. They will also have to interview with the school’s new prinicipal.

Education Secretary Deborah Gist praised the transformation plan.

“These are exactly the kinds of reforms we know are necessary to make the dramatic improvements we’re expecting at Central Falls High School,” Gist said Sunday.

In other words, they agreed to abide by the superintendent’s original demands. Furthermore, they have to now submit to an interview process to determine whether they get their jobs back, a consequence of their initial defiance. The only mediation that took place in this process must have involved just how pathetic their retreat would be allowed to look.

Answer: abjectly pathetic, and deservedly so. How anyone could defend a status quo that allowed half of the students at Central Falls High School to fail is beyond comprehension. It looks as though the teachers learned a lesson about accountability and the limits of community patience.


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YES WE CAN!!

Pablo on May 17, 2010 at 2:57 PM

How anyone could defend a status quo that allowed half of the students at Central Falls High School to fail is beyond comprehension.

THEY ARE DEMOCRATS. Look at the schools in any democrat city.

Inanemergencydial on May 17, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Failures leading the failures…..

an A+ in liberalism and stupidity for everyone there. I’m glad they got beeatch slapped around, it’s good for liberals to get a little of that.

ted c on May 17, 2010 at 2:59 PM

When one stands up against union tyranny the results can be very rewarding. If only other government agencies and businesses would do the same.

docdave on May 17, 2010 at 3:01 PM

It would have made more sense to let them stay fired and be replaced by teachers willing to work for less money. An extra 2 hours per week, for $70k, and you know that they will be out the door at EXACTLY the moment the 25 minutes are up?

Bishop on May 17, 2010 at 3:01 PM

If you can beat the teachers’ union in a place so solid blue as Rhode Island, you should be able to do the job just about anywhere. Kudos to the district officials for calling the union’s bluff.

jwolf on May 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM

This is a victory? No pay cuts? No firings?

faraway on May 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM

The Tea Party must add “break up the unions” to its plank.

faraway on May 17, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Interview:

“Sign this undated resignation letter.”

cthulhu on May 17, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Look for a lot of “social promotion” coming out of Central Falls High School in the coming years…

Fuzzlenutter on May 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM

It would be nice if part of the agreement to allow them back would be a massive pay cut. You’re telling me in an economy like this and in a town where the average salary is 22k, the district can’t find tons of applicants willing to work for 35-40k?

Doughboy on May 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM

The following is an observation based my experience, and may not reflect reality in general:

During my college experience, I dated several future teachers. I met quite a few others. It seemed to me that the vast majority of these got into teaching because they didnt want to take advanced classes in subjects such as biology and math – not because they wanted to teach kids.

Obviously, there were some who wanted to teach. Most seemed content not having to take even business courses (my major).

Again, just my observation. I may be talking out my butt again.

Shambhala on May 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Interview:

“Sign this undated resignation letter.”

cthulhu on May 17, 2010 at 3:04 PM

…and, “Meet your replacement”.

Fletch54 on May 17, 2010 at 3:06 PM

I’m sorry these ingrates were rehired. I would have preferred it playing out like Reagan and the air traffic controllers.

cool breeze on May 17, 2010 at 3:06 PM

I wonder if any of the older teachers used to be air traffic controllers back in the early 80s.

Shy Guy on May 17, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Great minds….

Shy Guy on May 17, 2010 at 3:06 PM

I was watching the news this weekend and the news made it sound like the teachers won. In fact they were interviewing teachers saying they won. I guess not being fired and not having to reapply could constitute a “win” but in essence, they are back to where they were when they originally said NO to the new superintendant’s new work schedule and such.

Everyone is right here, we have to drop unions in government jobs. NO good reason to have them.

karenhasfreedom on May 17, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Paying $70k a year to someone who cares about teaching our children is in my realm of acceptability. Paying $70k a year for someone who only cares about how to continue making $70k a year, massive fail.

donkichi on May 17, 2010 at 3:10 PM

The unions are only creating more members. If you are a high school dropout, the chances are your ONLY chance at any standard of living is with unions and government subsidies. In other words, they are creating democrats.

volsense on May 17, 2010 at 3:12 PM

“…despite earning over $70K per year in a town where the average salary was less than a third of that, at $22K.”

Will these teachers also take a cut in their comparatively exorbitant pay to atone for the poor results?

That’s how it works outside the cloistered walls of unionism.

locomotivebreath1901 on May 17, 2010 at 3:12 PM

How anyone could defend a status quo that allowed half of the students at Central Falls High School to fail is beyond comprehension.

Um, really? Haven’t you been paying attention? EVERY SINGLE PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL in my town is a “dropout factory.” That means they have 60% or lower graduation rate.

The school district superintendent defended it. The teacher’s union defended it. Parents who still send their kids there defend it. This is the state of public education in our country.

If any other large business in America had this kind of failure rate they would first be fired by whomever they were working for then sued for wasting money and time then they would be vilified in the press and finally attacked by members of congress and possibly find and/or imprisoned for p*ssing away their investor’s money.

These people aren’t just p*ssing away money though, they’re p*ssing away children’s lives.

29Victor on May 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

See, unions do help…this union apparently did not pay enough into Obama’s campaign.

right2bright on May 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

It looks as though the teachers learned a lesson about accountability and the limits of community patience.

The district gave in too by allowing these a$$clowns back.

If they’d had a real set of Malkins, they’d have started taking applications for an entirely new staff.

BacaDog on May 17, 2010 at 3:18 PM

These people aren’t just p*ssing away money though, they’re p*ssing away children’s lives.

29Victor on May 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Another generation of minorities lost to the greed of the democrats…I honestly feel they have dumbed them down so much that they do not have any understanding of how poorly they are treated, how ignorant they have become under democrat rule.
This will be looked back on as truly the most hideous of all gov. programs.
The irony, schools like Agassi built in Las Vegas, using basically what conservatives want to do to public schools, he is having great success. And because he is liberal he actually think it’s those ideas that are working.
What he is doing, they (unions) would never allow in public schools…but the liberals don’t get it.

right2bright on May 17, 2010 at 3:19 PM

How anyone could defend a status quo that allowed half of the students at Central Falls High School to fail is beyond comprehension

Maybe half of the students are stupid and/or lazy.

I’ve never failed fully half a class, but I’ve had semesters where laziness and stupidity blended into a class where over a third failed.

Lehosh on May 17, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Too bad this is the exception in governmental handling of ineptitude, not the norm.

Meric1837 on May 17, 2010 at 3:22 PM

School Administrator to teachers union: “WHO RUNS BARTERTOWN?”

kalel666 on May 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM

There ya go – call their bluffs! More of this, please!

disa on May 17, 2010 at 3:23 PM

It looks as though the teachers learned a lesson about accountability and the limits of community patience.

Nope
No way
They found out they were good for nothing else and no one would hire them.
They decided that the only way they can get their revenge is by being inside the system
These are not the types who reform

macncheez on May 17, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Too bad this is the exception in governmental handling of ineptitude, not the norm.

Meric1837 on May 17, 2010 at 3:22 PM

We’ll see. Could be coming to a state and municipality near you.

BuckeyeSam on May 17, 2010 at 3:31 PM

thats $70k is for 9 months.

I just picture the Simpson episode where Homer gets his old job back by crawling through a door labled “supplicants” on all fours.

Sweet!

tommer74 on May 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Given all the out-of-work teachers, NONE of the old group should have been re-hired.

GarandFan on May 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

This is a victory? No pay cuts? No firings?

faraway on May 17, 2010 at 3:02 PM

I am trying hard to remain positive. I’ll take this as a small victory, that may lead to much larger victories. People are angry, and rightfully so. That anger is spilling over, and in this lil nook, they saw that anger, and knew people were serious. This will spread.

Remember…they have to work extra time, without extra pay, and they are being subjected to scrutiny. In the interview process, and have agreed to evaluations. Meaning, if their students aren’t performing well,. that will reflect on the teacher, and the teacher may very well find themselves on the unemployment line.

I hope they keep this superintendent. Anyone less, would have caved to the teachers, and nothing would have been accomplished. Nothing positive anyway.

capejasmine on May 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Unless it involves dramatically scaling back their pay, this isn’t adequate.

Midas on May 17, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Look, I don’t begrudge a *good* teacher making $70k+, even with summer breaks.

*This* sorry excuse for a bunch of teachers, however, does not remotely qualify.

Midas on May 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Yeah, they should’ve been publicly whipped instead and then locked in stock and pillory so the Little Einsteins they’ve so miserably failed due to their selfishness could throw mud at them.

/sarc

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 17, 2010 at 3:38 PM

29Victor on May 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Public schools are the only industry I’ve seen where the basic excuse is, “our customers suck” and it’s actually accepted.

Well, maybe they do.

How about trying different solutions, new approaches, etc.?

Not allowed. They’re a monopoly with unions, work rules, entrenched bureaucrats, etc.

Not going to change and what are their customers going to do, get their education elsewhere?

Not if any worthless, corrupt and incompetent Democrat can help it.

Democrats need the funding unions provide and the education of children is far, far down on the list when it comes to Democrat priorities.

Why shouldn’t it be? People are dumb enough to accept the same ol’ tired excuses AND give them more money at the same time, in order to achieve the same crappy results, year after year.

NoDonkey on May 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM

The Education Commissioner trotted out the old tried and true “its all about the children” line. No surprise there. But, if it were really about the kids, the teachers would have stepped up to the plate, committed to the extra tutoring and the 25 minutes extra work day and get on with life. But its not and never is about the children, its about the teachers and the administrators.

This is a heartening development. I hope, but I won’t my breath, that other areas will have the guts to clean house like this.

crusader1145 on May 17, 2010 at 3:40 PM

I grew up in Warwick, RI, graduated HS in 1963. Served in the USN for 4 and graduated URI under the GI Bill. Sister grad’d HS in 1963, graduated URI as a elementary school teacher in 1964. Later got the masters to keep her tenure. Looking back on it, teacher unions weren’t strong back then. I think all this changed when Carter created the Dept. of Ed. and the unions got a chip on their shoulder.

For what it’s worth, my sister thought being a kindergarden teacher was a “racket”. The teacher unions in RI were like the UAW. One group gets a contract in 2 or 3 cities; another group does the same but with a different contract duration. So every year, teachers in some cities were on strike . . . like a rolling blackout annually. The state and city governments always caved. Each group of unions being a little more successful in their pay and benefits; and next year the next group would demand parity but usually nudging pay and benefits up another notch.

Although Superintendent Gist won this round; without a concession on a pay and benefit freeze as well, I don’t think she gained that much. Unions are notorious for dragging out negotiations on removals. “Rubber rooms” in NYC come to mind.

Bob in VA on May 17, 2010 at 3:50 PM

The Central Falls teachers brought this on themselves by allowing the Union to trump what they all, in their hearts, know are measures that are worth trying. Shame on them. They should not have let the Union make their decisions for them.

jeanie on May 17, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Look, I don’t begrudge a *good* teacher making $70k+, even with summer breaks.

*This* sorry excuse for a bunch of teachers, however, does not remotely qualify.

Midas on May 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM

I kinda do, even though I’m considering becoming a teacher myself. I wouldn’t mind it if the top 1% of teachers made that much, but it still seems like a ton of money to spend on just a good teacher, unless the teacher is taking on additional responsibilities.

Still, I’d count this as a win. For one, not all teachers support their unions, so I’m not against them being hired back, especially considering hiring on all new teachers probably wouldn’t have worked out well for anyone, least of all the students. For another, they’ve had to meet the demands they initially scoffed at. Had they do so initially, they never would have been fired.

That said, I hope every single one of them is on some sort of probation. Failing over half is simply unacceptable.

Esthier on May 17, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Let’s not forget they have a paid summer off coming up. That wouldn’t be the case if they were fired. Let’s see if they go back to work in the fall …

neobadger on May 17, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Outstanding.

Don’t want to obey your employer? There’s the door.

badtemper on May 17, 2010 at 4:23 PM

That is great news, the first half of a victory. Now if these wonderful, hard working teachers can actually teach these kids, victory will be complete.

JusDreamin on May 17, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Appears to be a good outcome but I wonder where were the parents in this equation? I can’t imagine knowing my child was failing any class and not being all over it like ugly on an ape. And failing to graduate would have sent me off like a roman candle. The shame of failing as a parent would have been palpable.

SKYFOX on May 17, 2010 at 4:29 PM

sent = set

SKYFOX on May 17, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Looks like the teachers got schooled.

jnelchef on May 17, 2010 at 4:32 PM

So,the teachers are being rehired because they accepted some concessions.Does anone believe that they are going to become good teachers now?
They were fired,they should stay fired.

DDT on May 17, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Bust the Unions.

Wade on May 17, 2010 at 4:45 PM

They were fired,they should stay fired.

DDT on May 17, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Like everyone else would be. You are 100% correct.

Wade on May 17, 2010 at 4:46 PM

The Central Falls teachers brought this on themselves by allowing the Union to trump what they all, in their hearts, know are measures that are worth trying. Shame on them. They should not have let the Union make their decisions for them.

jeanie on May 17, 2010 at 4:03 PM

I’m glad you mentioned that. I don’t think people in non-union jobs can fully understand how trapped an employee can be when they’re part of a union.

I don’t for one second believe that the vast majority of those teachers would have wanted to leave over a few minutes extra a day or some tutoring.

My parents were both teachers and it seemed like they were constantly concerned that their union was going to do something stupid and greedy on “their behalf” when it mostly amounted to gaining more leverage for the union leaders.

Obviously, I don’t know enough about that school in particular, but as I mentioned when the story was first unfolding, this is the part of the danger of unions. Woe be the teacher who is part of that union that said, “Hey, I disagree, I’ll stay a little later and tutor some kids. I”m making good money and don’t want to risk my job.”

Now maybe they were all lazy, shiftless, good for nothing losers…but I doubt it.

The REAL lesson should be the danger of unions, not just for management, and for creating a poor product (in this case education) and not just for their interference, but also in making decisions that you as a union member may disagree with, and have serious consequences you have no choice but to accept.

No wonder the unions don’t want secret ballots to see if busniesses want to unionize.

Not only would education in general, and kids in particular do better without unions, the individual teachers would, too.

DrAllecon on May 17, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Why shouldn’t it be? People are dumb enough to accept the same ol’ tired excuses AND give them more money at the same time, in order to achieve the same crappy results, year after year.

NoDonkey on May 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM

And parents just want their kids babysat and fed for “free” so they can get on with their lives. That’s the only reason I can come up with that they would leave them in these failing schools.

29Victor on May 17, 2010 at 4:53 PM

I encourage everyone to look at the cost differential between private and public education, and the difference in outcome between the two. When comparing numbers, be sure you are looking at the real numbers. The public education folks love to talk about the costs without including any of the overhead, like buildings, maintenance, and depreciation. The real costs will absolutely floor you.
 
The immediate costs are just the beginning of the problems with our public education system. The long term costs to our society of passing on students that are uneducated, unable to think logically for themselves, and are habitually trained that failure is an option is even greater than the initial expense. Acceptance of state welfare is a learned lifestyle.
 
Stop listening to the whining of the left that public schools have to put up with a lot more of societies problems and, hence, it will cost more. Anyone who believes that has never looked at the true costs. We’ve been told for many decades that they just need more money. It isn’t the money! When will people wise up and demand their schools are held accountable? Even better, when will people rise up and demand that schools start firing deadbeat teachers and re-organize themselves to produce better students?
 
Answer: when there is real competition and all parents, not just middle and upper income parents, have real choices. The parents, not unions, should decide how good the education is. The teachers that sided with the union in Rhode Island should be asked to find employment elsewhere.

ClanDerson on May 17, 2010 at 5:03 PM

I kinda do, even though I’m considering becoming a teacher myself. I wouldn’t mind it if the top 1% of teachers made that much, but it still seems like a ton of money to spend on just a good teacher, unless the teacher is taking on additional responsibilities.

Esthier on May 17, 2010 at 4:05 PM

Well most teacher contracts include that famous little line that describes your teaching duties + any additional duties as assigned by the admin.
This could be anything.
In my school in SW ND I make about 36,500/yr & this is my 8th yr as a teacher.
My contract’s for 180 days. Next year it’s 181 & the year after that it’s 182 days/yr.
My district pays 1/2 my retirement, I pay the other half.
But the huge deal is that my district pays abt 93% of a family health insurance policy. And that is why I work here.
I like kids. They’re better to work with than adults.
But many of the the adults I work with (not all of them-but both the suptd AND the principal are incompetent)are idiots.
I will never make 70K/yr out here.
But my school has something like 80 kids in the HS & abt 240 K-12.
It’s great & the community really supports the school.
But it’s thinly veiled support.
What the parents want is an easy A for their kids.
I don’t give those out.
So I am constantly harassed for being ‘too hard’.
You cannot believe (or maybe you do) the inequity & sheer laziness of some of these people.
We have people working here that do nothing but lip service for teaching.
I’m all for being availabe to tutor kids.
In RI I’ll bet $$ it won’t do ANY good, but it’s certainly worth a try.
Really, you get what you pay for.
I don’t really appreciate getting paid the same as the other guy who never worked 1/2 as hard for their BA degree than I did for my BS & now they just sit around watching sports videos in class & on school time when they’re supposed to be doing something else.
There is a shortage of teachers.
But it’s not just bcs of the pay.
It is PEOPLE.
Lazy parents who want us to raise their kids.
Lazy administrators who yell at us when parents come down on them for us not making their kids excel when it is the oparents’ responsibility to enforce real consequences etc.
The job is stressful bcs those who are good teachers are not treated well at all.
In fact, I have noticed that really good teachers get flack bcs they are basically making everyone else look bad.
It happens all the time.
I do love teaching, but honestly, I can do something else & make more $$ with my education.
And I will if I keep getting harassed for no reason.
The gross incompetence is ASTOUNDING.

Badger40 on May 17, 2010 at 5:08 PM

I would say that the huge failure rate in RI has more to do with the families that live there rather than the teachers.
I’m sure a lot of the teachers are bad.
But if you look at some of these countries like India where kids are basically left to learn on the own & the govt teachers are ‘teaching’ you will find that the kids who excel under this awful system still excel despite the inadequacies of the teachers.
If you want to succeed, you will.
I personally make myself constantly available & practically beg for kids to come in for help, counsel them when they’re about to circle the drain grades-wise & these kids will still not do their work or put forth the effort.
This is really a parent issue.
I may not be teacher of the year. I’m still learning.
But I can tell you I am doing a good job.
And I am a reasonable person.
But I don’t give out grades or awards like candy & I have the bar set high.
Any kid who truly makes the effort can excel.
They may not get an A or a B.
They may even get a D, but anyone can pass if they try.
So many kids do not.
And that’s where the parents’ should be coming in.
And they often don’t.

Badger40 on May 17, 2010 at 5:16 PM

BTW-check out the teacher shortages all over the nation.
Ask yourself why no one wants to teach.

Badger40 on May 17, 2010 at 5:17 PM

The gross incompetence is ASTOUNDING.

Badger40 on May 17, 2010 at 5:08 PM

I think that’s what upsets most people, not specifically incompetence with teachers, principles or entire districts, but all of it taken as a whole, and the way mediocre teachers are praised and promoted and great ones completely ignored or worse.

Esthier on May 17, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Funny… FoxNews reporting observed that a teacher drove by the front of the school with fist in air, shouting “VICTORY”.

CLaFarge on May 17, 2010 at 6:26 PM

NoDonkey on May 17, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Been there and done that. I finally left full time education because the system is stuck on stupid. I completely changed how I taught in 2000. The students didn’t like it because they couldn’t hide anymore but most started doing better. Those that went on to college started passing on the thanks for the easiest A I obtained in college comments. I taught chemistry which is not an easy course in college. The administrators didn’t like what I was doing because the evaluation matrix they used was useless. We fought every year over it. The administrations solution for the issue was to reassign me to remedial classes because I wouldn’t toe the traditional methodology line. Then they tried to rif me an action they lost. I got the point and retired. Public education is still stuck on stupid.

chemman on May 17, 2010 at 6:45 PM

Badger40 on May 17, 2010 at 5:16 PM

My sympathies. I know what you are still going through. Engaged parents meant students were engaged in the classes. Without parents involvement you at best are fighting a delaying action.

chemman on May 17, 2010 at 6:48 PM

29Victor on May 17, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Education did it to themselves. They convinced nearly everyone in the early 70′s to leave the children in their hands and the parents could do their own thing. That has really worked out well hasn’t it (sarc)

chemman on May 17, 2010 at 6:54 PM

Answer: when there is real competition and all parents, not just middle and upper income parents, have real choices. The parents, not unions, should decide how good the education is. The teachers that sided with the union in Rhode Island should be asked to find employment elsewhere.

ClanDerson on May 17, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Solution: school vouchers

karenhasfreedom on May 17, 2010 at 7:02 PM

It looks as though the teachers learned a lesson about accountability and the limits of community patience.

Now if the parents and students can somehow learn the same lesson, they might eventually decrease the dropout rate.

xblade on May 17, 2010 at 8:09 PM

During my college experience, I dated several future teachers. I met quite a few others. It seemed to me that the vast majority of these got into teaching because they didnt want to take advanced classes in subjects such as biology and math – not because they wanted to teach kids.

Obviously, there were some who wanted to teach. Most seemed content not having to take even business courses (my major).

Again, just my observation. I may be talking out my butt again.

Shambhala on May 17, 2010 at 3:05 PM

This right here. They typically take Ed classes because they are stupid and can’t handle high end math. I’ve seen a teacher who had a Math Ed Degree who didn’t know much more than basic math, heck I had to remind her the rules of Permutations and that 0!=1.

What bother’s me is that they earn 70K and only work 3/4s of the year. WTH? That’s lawyer territory when adjusted for time off.

I know they don’t work hard, because I was one of a handful of teachers that actually spent time with the kids tutoring. The funniest thing I have seen is teachers who don’t grade. Happens all the time, they only grade tests and let the kid’s peer grade or let the kids “check their own answers.”

Tim Burton on May 17, 2010 at 9:12 PM

I encourage everyone to look at the cost differential between private and public education, and the difference in outcome between the two. When comparing numbers, be sure you are looking at the real numbers. The public education folks love to talk about the costs without including any of the overhead, like buildings, maintenance, and depreciation. The real costs will absolutely floor you.
ClanDerson on May 17, 2010 at 5:03 PM

When I was deployed a few years ago some NPR show was on the radio. The subject was education. It seems in one of the Low Countries in Europe (I cannot remember which one) all of the schools are semi-private. They get their funding from the government based on student enrollment. However, the parents can pick which schools they send their children to. Schools that don’t perform end up with fewer students and less money. The parents stay involved and the schools are forced to deliver a quality product. The issue with private school in this country is a parent has to pay for the public education system they do not use and the private system they choose to use. How come the lefty teaches that always tell us to be more like Europe do not want a system such as this?

cobrakai99 on May 17, 2010 at 10:13 PM