An Analogy

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Honest_Teacher, Apr 9, 2014.

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  1. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Apr 9, 2014

    Imagine a professor for a college course grades on a traditional bell curve. Students fall into that pretty standard distribution based on the merit of their work, which is a function of effort, natural ability, efficient use of time, attentiveness, etc. One day early in the semester students did some reflection on what grade they anticipated getting in the class. The students who decided they were most likely to get C’s, D’s, and F’s decided to band together with a very small minority of the B students who were worried that they may not actually be "B students." They went to the professor and told her that, in exchange for minimal effort and attendance, these students would like B-‘s in the class. This should appeal to the professor, they said, because it gets rid of much of the evaluation work necessary for the professor and she doesn’t have to worry about students arguing about grades, competition between students, etc. However, the kicker is that all students in the class would have to receive a B- in the name of fairness, even if they didn’t want to take part in the agreement. A simple majority vote would decide the fate of the whole student population; students who wanted to be judged based on their own merits (A students, B students, and students who actually saw the value in a meritocracy) would not have that option. Also, the students argued, if you don’t allow us to hold this vote, we’re going to the dean to lobby for this being a standard policy, so you won’t have a choice anyway.

    The teacher, at the instruction of the dean, finally relented. Students showed up to class, did the bare minimum required, and left as early as possible. The quality of work obviously declined, as there was no clear incentive to put in the time necessary to master the content. Hard work, with no clear incentives, is almost always shunned for another activity or delayed until a vague “later” time. What did the A and B students do? Some of them kept working hard because of a moral obligation to themselves; more dropped down to the minimum amount of work required because…well, why not? It wasn't going to affect their grade anyway. Still others transferred out of the class because they did not want to be associated with the kind of slothful apathy permeating that particular college course. They wanted to succeed or fail based on their own merit, not receive a grade negotiated and forced upon them by their peers without their best interests at heart. Some of those individuals may have clearly overestimated their ability and received a D or C in the class. However, it would have been a grade they’d earned instead of being gifted.

    Did this agreement “help” the average person in the class? Well, in a traditional bell curve, the average grade would be a C. The “average” grade in this situation is a B-. However, this sacrifice of a merit-based system for the “common good” of all pushed out the very people you’d most want in that course and brought the quality of actual work being done down significantly. You tell me if it helped the average student grow personally and intellectually.

    __________________________________
    If you were one of the bolded students, how would you feel? If you were that teacher, who wanted to maximize the growth of her students for their sake and hers, how would you feel?
     
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  3. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    What is the point being argued here..? Is this happening in colleges? I've never heard of it.

    I think it would go without saying that I'd feel horrible about it if I was any of those people you mentioned, and I would probably drop that class as well. What's the point in even showing up if you don't have the opportunity to really succeed, grow your understanding, and test yourself. I know that this isn't the mentality of every student, but that's why I educate myself.

    On another note, it's a similar reason that I also don't approve of the standard bell curve. If a student who got a lower grade such as a C or a D receives an A because there's a grading curve, then there are a number of problems: 1, my instruction, and 2, the student obviously didn't learn what they were supposed to learn. Yes it's probably not their fault, but they shouldn't receive a grade that's indicative of understanding of the material.
     
  4. mathteachertobe

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    Honest Teacher believes this is what the union system is doing to the teaching profession. I disagree, but beyond that am not interested in engaging in the pro/anti-union threads.
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Well I think the point at where his argument falls apart is where unions would be okay with teachers teaching to minimal work requirements. We're still held to high standards in our district even though we have a great union.

    Unions cannot protect teachers from being removed due to laziness or ineptitude. They can only ensure that the administration follows the due process in removing a teacher rather than allowing teachers to be removed simply due to the whims of who an admin likes or dislikes.

    Also in his example he states that "more dropped down" to the lower standards. This wouldn't reflect what I've seen with any of the teachers I've worked with in any school. Almost every single one has a very high work ethic and is in it not just for a moral obligation to themselves but also to the kids.
     
  6. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Is teaching a meritocracy? It's a simple question. Uncompetitive nations/industries that don't value merit are inefficient and wasteful; they accomplish less than they should and certainly less than those in competitive nations where basic market forces exist.

    If teaching is not a meritocracy, are you arguing that teachers are homogenous goods in the labor market that are interchangeable? If not, there's no way to argue the lack of meritocracy in teaching isn't harmful, as it leads those involved in the education industry to, yes, drop to lower standards. In fact, it also acts as a deterrent t teaching for those "A" students who would have been excellent teachers but have no interest in being paid like an average employee in their field in the name of "fairness."
     
  7. GTB4GT

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    This analogy is perfect for supporting my viewpoint. At the end of the day, all organizations fail from the "top down" and not from the "bottom up". the dean is ultimately responsible for the chaos that ensued...not the students or the teacher. Had the dean supported the teacher, end of story. you cannot allow the inmates to run the asylum.
     
  8. gr3teacher

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    I'm sorry that you teach in such a terrible district that your colleagues can get by without working, or even without being evaluated thoroughly by an administrator.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Teaching is either a meritocracy or they are homogenous goods is a false dilemma.

    Also yes, there is a problem with teacher pay. If we want to increase the amount of teachers taken from a pool of high quality students, a few things need to be done: more respect and compensation for teachers and better teacher preparation. Although I personally believe that A students don't always make the best teachers, as Teach for America has proven.

    If teaching were a pure meritocracy I believe the profession as a whole would suffer, because most teacher are putting their all into it as it is. It's not for lack of effort, and adding the stress of having their paychecks or job tied to small increases or decreases in test scores would probably lead to a lot more rote memorization teaching and lower quality of teaching methods overall which are proven to increase ability on near-goal tests, but reduce retention over time.

    I don't remember where I watched it, but I watched a video that showed multiple studies that stated that employees who work for a set salary and are given more creative freedom accomplished more than those whose pay was based on results.
     
  10. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    The term meritocracy implies that you identify success almost immediately regarding students. IF success is how well they do on a test you could do it. I for one have little belief that tests are an indicator of someone becoming a "success". Children are not quantifiable like tires or sprockets or some industrial product. They may not realize or achieve their "success" or accomplishment till much later. You can continue to try and make teaching like some sort of assembly line endeavor but it fails at all levels. The other definition of meritocracy fails for me also.
    : leadership selected on the basis of intellectual criteria
    I will grant you that teachers need to be aware of many things, have MUCH common sense and know their subject but forget about the brilliant and intellectual probably being "better" as teachers. Teaching what you KNOW takes much more that brains. It is almost an art with all the things you will deal with to impart knowledge to large diverse groups. IQ would probably be a poor indicator of being a good teacher. Some of the best "teachers" I ever saw were aides in the classroom.
     
  11. Pashtun

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    Apr 10, 2014

    This applies to my district as well.
     
  12. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Apr 10, 2014

    Same here.

    So much of this makes no sense when you look at actual data from states of teachers with unions versus teachers without unions. The southern states consistently rank lower than our nothern counterparts in student achievement, school safety, salary... you name it.

    The absence of a union does NOT give you the right to merit pay or the right to negotiate pay. None of this is true in Texas. We have a set salary scale, dependent on our education and years experience... that's it. We can't negotiate, plead, cry... nothing. The vast majority of my collegues work hard at what they do and deserve more than they make, but there is NO voice, anywhere, that will listen to them.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    The analogy to unions would actually be this: The teacher is giving out grades based on which students he likes best. Students who challenge his opinion are given lower grades in an effort to get them to be quieter in class. The teacher doesn't want to have to explain why some students might disagree. The teacher may even want to make space in his class for his friends' children, so he wants to prove that some existing students can't handle the class. The teacher's favorite students get an automatic A despite their performance. The students get together and petition for grades to be based on actual performance in the class. If the teacher gives someone an F, it has to be based on data and assignments that the student submitted. There has to be evidence that the student actually earned an F. In the same way, the teacher has to prove that A students actually produced high quality work and therefore earned the high grade.
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Apr 11, 2014

    :clap:
     
  15. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    The dean in this situation is the politician whose legislative vote was purchased by rent-seeking union leaders who demand that they be the "sole bargainer on behalf of all employers, regardless of employee consent."
     
  16. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Most teachers are not actively engaged when it comes to their jobs; in fact, nearly 70% of them are not.

    "Gallup’s State Of America’s Schools Report, released Wednesday, says nearly 70 percent of K – 12 teachers surveyed in a 2012 poll do not feel engaged in their work. The study said they are likely to spread their negative attitudes to co-workers and devote minimal discretionary effort to their jobs. "

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/...port_n_5119966.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592
     
  17. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Educational outcomes are quantifiable; claiming otherwise shows a distinct ignorance of the efficacy of various branches of the social sciences.

    Test scores correlate well with measurable increases in income when controlling for a myriad of factors like parental income, parental education, worker's education level, etc. That's not debatable; the research has shown it over and over again, most recently in the work of Raj Chetty at Harvard. Is income a perfect corollary for "lifetime success?" Of course not, but studies have shown a correlation between happiness and income level, and I've yet to see a study that can quantify " educational success" in an objective manner that doesn't involve some non-quantifiable measure made up solely to obfuscate the discussion.

    Finally, meritocracy means failure or success based on effectiveness. The following is the definition for meritocracy:

    1.an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth.

    2.a system in which such persons are rewarded and advanced: The dean believes the educational system should be a meritocracy.

    3.leadership by able and talented persons.

    Is intelligence a component? Probably. Is intelligence that's inappropriately utilized in a manner that doesn't achieve the set goals of an organization going to succeed in a meritocracy? Absolutely not; their intelligence didn't yield results.
     
  18. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Stop pretending that correlation = causation, especially in social sciences where multiple variables are interacting simultaneously.

    The absence of a union absolutely gives me the right to negotiate pay. The employer does not have to negotiate with me, but they are free to do so if desired; the rent-seeking behavior of union leadership in which they require that they be the sole representative of all labor within an organization, regardless of the consent of said labor, is preventing me from having the opportunity to negotiate. It's unacceptable.
     
  19. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I work in two schools and all I see are teachers more than "engaged" in their jobs. As for negativity being spread, most are too busy for that. Effort? I see much of that, also. I guess I work in the 30% area. I am being honest.
     
  20. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Explain to me, exactly, how step pay based on years of experience and education (both of which are weak corollaries to teacher efficacy) = performance-based pay.
     
  21. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Go ahead and go to a non-union school with a published salary scale and try to negotiate a higher salary. Let me know how it goes for you.
     
  22. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Anecdotal evidence is the weakest form of evidence, and it's especially weak when empirical data is present.

    I'm happy for you, however, that you feel your peers are engaged. I'm sure that's an enjoyable aspect of your professional life.
     
  23. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Those charter and private schools... do they make more or less than somebody in an equivalent position at your own school?

    Also, I can't help but notice that you've never responded to the fact that there are published salary scales in the five non-union states. Why is that?
     
  24. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    1) That would depend on how good they are at their jobs and the results they produce. That's how labor markets work.

    2) There are recommended salary schedules in nearly every major private corporation as well; however, they're recommended, and managers can move employees up or down those scales as they see fit. They merely have to allocate their resources in what they view as the most efficient manner, which means paying higher performers in highly-demanded positions more, while poor performers in low-demand positions are let go or compensated less. That's how an efficient market works.

    Now, go back to telling me that people don't negotiate salaries "in the real world."
     
  25. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    regardless of the reason, you still make my point above...the problem started at the top. In your scenario, if the politician didn't take a bribe, the problem again disappears.

    Look, there are businesses and sports leagues that deal with unions. some succeed, some don't.The ones that do have figured out how to do so. the ones that fail blame the unions (or foreign competition or the competition or too much regulation or etc.).Quit "blaming" the unions. It's an excuse for lazy mangement. (Disclaimer: I am not endorsing them by the way just saying that successful leaders can succeed despite the unions. using them as an excuse is, again, just lazy or signs of ineffectiveness).

    BTW, I have managed companies with unions and without them. I never looked at a union as a 'barrier' to meeting my objectives.
     
  26. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Oh, it wasn't a "bribe;" it was a political campaign donation...made with teacher funds.

    Are unions the only or even the biggest issue with education? Absolutely not. Are unions/my colleagues immorally bargaining on my behalf without my consent and impairing the ability of labor to allocate itself in the most efficient manner possible? Absolutely.
     
  27. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    This is continued from the same report that you quoted.

    I have to say that I don't think teachers who feel disengaged because they feel their "opinions don't matter" (another quote from the report) would really affect how well they interact with students. Their main problem seems to be with the administration, and probably feeling discouraged from not being backed up.

    Also the ideas that the report specifies are things that probably couldn't be achieved at most districts without a large organized negotiating body like a union. In fact without that negotiating power for teachers, I'm afraid teacher voice would pretty much just collapse in general, and we'd further sink into disengagement "because our opinions don't matter".
     
  28. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    1) The quote doesn't say all teachers who are disengaged are disengaged because "their opinions don't matter;" that was a subset of stress level, not engagement in particular. While they're certainly interrelated, they are not interrelated in the manner or to the degree you seem to be implying.

    2) The research makes the direct connection between teacher and student engagement.

    3) Teachers are more unionized than any profession in the private sector; if the argument is that "administration is causing disengagement and teachers need unions to combat administration," why aren't other professions completely demoralized without collective representation?
     
  29. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I never get into it with internet personalities. Conflict in forums mostly amuses me. My feelings or judgements come from observations and working in the room with teachers. It comes from hearing them discuss their strategies and success. I guess my empirical data is shown by my main school (29 years here). It has made that Fla A score more times than not and this from a Title One School (large majority in poverty). I consider grading schools like this mostly a dog and pony show because the criteria change each year. It is obviously to show how "THE schools are failing". One size does not fit all in the scheme of public schools and the "standardization of schools will fail like they want it to fail.
     
  30. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Did I imagine a reply to this or am I crazy like I sometimes think?
    First teacherman1 says bon voyage and now this vanishing post.
    Friday either way ;).
     
  31. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    :lol:

    ...and I am one of those "useless" anecdotal people. None of the schools I have ever worked at must have been polled.
     
  32. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Okay then. I have a few questions since this study seems kind of vague. What does "teacher disengagement" even mean? If I were to say I were disengaged, it could mean in any manner of ways.

    Also they say "The study said they are likely to spread their negative attitudes to co-workers and devote minimal discretionary effort to their jobs." They say it's likely, but likely based on what data? Did they do a study to see if "disengaged teachers" (whatever that means) did poorly in their jobs? What is the level of correlation here?

    Also yes, there is an obvious direct relationship to teacher and student engagement. Every teacher knows that. But it doesn't say that there's a direct relationship between "disengaged teacher" and lack of student engagement.

    I know some teachers who might label themselves as disengaged based on the stress they feel from the district, admin, or even the position they find themselves in. They want something new. But these same teachers are some of the best I've ever seen. They have years of experience and really inspire kids.

    I think you know that the teaching profession is different from pretty much every other type of profession. We are not a service industry, and we are not a production industry, but we are a little of both. In the course of doing our jobs well it can be expected that our "customers" will not be happy if their student is disciplined or not receiving and easy A.

    In addition, you say why aren't other professions demoralized. Which other professions are you talking about. I can think of grocery store workers. They're unionized. And then I can think of professionals like lawyers and doctors. They don't need a union because they're their own bosses. They have large amounts of freedom of choice, and their salary comes directly from their customers. But again, they are in the service of making their customers happy and well. I can think of few professions where employees work under a large infrastructure such as districts and are either not unionized, or are happy with their position and pay working under a bureaucracy.
     
  33. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    We have performance based pay, and I work in a union district. The union works to make sure the system is fair and not based on the whims of which teachers admin likes best.

    HT, I don't understand why you continue to work at a public school if you dislike it so much. Since you really seem to think that you'll be able to negotiate a higher salary in a non-union environment, why not go to a charter or private school and get a higher salary? On top of your higher salary, you won't have to worry about working with lazy teachers and incompetent administrators who won't do anything about your lazy teachers.
     
  34. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I worked as a teacher in a union, and now I teach where there are no unions. I hear how unions will save education, and I hear how getting rid of unions will save education. I find teachers are way too busy for this nonsense. They are either busy trying to help children and those who don't care much will never be great at teaching nomatter what carrot or stick is thrown at them.

    The solution is to find more caring teachers and create schools that work smarter not harder. I see your point about meritocracy and it might be correct. The only thing is that the impact will be small, as good teachers find it difficult to serve both money and children.
     
  35. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    You mean, your anecdotal evidence. I've not seen any empirical data posted on your behalf.
     
  36. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    What does teacherman leaving have to do with a glitch in the boards?
     
  37. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Because my tax dollars also go to support inefficient schools that don't promote merit; why are you accepting ineffective systems simply based on the tradition fallacy?
     
  38. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    What are you doing about changing the system other than arguing with strangers on an internet forum? Are you lobbying your city/county's political and educational leaders? Are you rallying support from other like-minded people in your area? Are you making your voice heard at your state's capital building?

    Or do you only make your voice heard here, on an internet forum, by arguing with strangers? Maybe you need to do more to help your cause by convincing people that can really make a change in your local district or state. Just saying.

    Also, I wonder if you express these same ideas (with the same level of venom) at work when you talk to your colleagues? Or, at work, do you keep mum, and then come here and vent all your pent up frustrations?
     
  39. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    HT, I thought I had made myself clear about how I regard success in schools and my observations about good teachers and schools. Please excuse my anecdotal evidence as I have never regarded my job and the students and children I deal with each day and have for 35 years as statistical "evidence" or empirical "data". In fact I think letting the bean counters take over public schools has been as much a problem as poverty and the constant attacks on it. I have always worked with younger kids. One year in middle school. The hundred or so elementary teachers I worked with are so far removed from the folks you describe it makes me wonder where you work. We will never see eye to eye because with little kids sometimes success is just convincing a dirty little child with dead eyes that WE really care and will take care of them from 8-2pm. My success is when a child that never seemed to have a chance can now compete successfully with his peers in soccer. My personal success this year is that two of my kids from years ago requested that I be their teacher Rep. at their HS graduation in June. IF you want to get into that long line of passionate anti public school haters and scream for reforms because Public schools suck and teachers are the reason it is your prerogative. Mine do not and I see success all around me. I keep up with lots of my former students and am amazed at how well some of those "special" cases have integrated themselves into society. Yes, all anecdotal but my reality.
    But for you I will agree their all @&#$@# hole schools out there with teachers that are not making a difference but I bet most are from inner city schools that are so far behind the 8 ball Jesus would struggle with it. I figure you are either part of the problem and or part of the answer and I still answer the bell everyday and try to make a difference in children's lives. That is about the best I can do. I think Twain once said there are lies, damned lies and statistics.
     
  40. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Some of us don't do the job just for higher pay or to please our colleagues. I share many of the concerns HT does. That doesn't mean I'm going to abandon the kids who are the pawns in the system and deserve to have the best teachers.
     
  41. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Yet at the same time, you would argue that merit pay works because teachers are motivated by more money? You can't have it both ways.
     
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