Illinois Music Programs

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Contributions to Music Education Vol.37, No. 1, pp. 37-50.

Charles R. Ciorba, Ph.D.
Millikin University
Melanie McLay
Sullivan Public Schools

Describing Illinois Music Programs
Using the Whole School Effectiveness
Guidelines Survey for Music Education:
A Statewide Investigation
The purpose of this study was to describe Illinois music educators’ self-perceptions regarding the demographics, logistics, function, and implementation of their classroom operations
using the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs. The survey
was administered to K-12 music educators (N = 1,251) throughout the state of Illinois.
Participants reported positive self-perceptions in relation to their teaching abilities and
leadership qualities, yet were less positive regarding the communication of goals, expectations, vision, mission, and current research with teachers outside of music, administrators,
and parents.

O

ver the past 40 years, music education has continually struggled to hold a
secure place in the K-12 curriculum (Koza, 2006). In the 1970s, the United
States experienced an economic recession that had a significant impact on public
education. During this period, many music programs that were unable to advocate their reason for existence were vulnerable to being eliminated due to budget
constraints (Mark, 2002). In the 1980s, the National Commission on Excellence
in Education (1983) published A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational
Reform, a government report that addressed the declining quality of the American
educational system. The report received a great deal of publicity, and although it
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Contributions to Music Education

did support arts education, the authors failed to recognize music as part of the
standard curriculum. During the 1990s, the National Standards for Music Education were introduced as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Despite this
achievement, the legislation contained no congressional mandate to adopt the
National Standards. To this day, it remains the choice of individual states and local
school districts to do so voluntarily.
As the United States entered the twenty-first century, political and
economic struggles continued to have an effect on music education. The Center
on Education Policy (2007) released its fifth year report of the No Child Left
Behind Act, in which 491 school districts throughout the United States were
randomly solicited for participation. The report indicated that 349 districts
volunteered, resulting in a 71% response rate. Between 2002 and 2007, 62% of
elementary schools surveyed increased instructional time for English language
arts (ELA) and/or math as follows: (a) 47% for ELA, (b) 37% for math, and
(c) 43% for both subjects combined. Furthermore, 44% of the districts chose
to decrease the time allotted for the following subjects and activities: (a) social
studies, (b) science, (c) art and music, (d) physical education, and (e) lunch and/
or recess. This decrease resulted in a combined time reduction averaging 145
minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day.
The Music for All Foundation (2004) released the results of a five-year study,
which stated that while the K-12 student population increased 5.8%, enrollment
in music classes throughout the state of California declined by 46.5% (513,366
students). Furthermore, participation in elementary general music declined by
85.8% (264,821 students), and the ranks of music teachers decreased by 26.7%
(1,053 teachers). This study claimed that while budgetary (Proposition 13) and
political (No Child Left Behind Act) issues were partly attributable to these
declines, the elimination of the Fine Arts Coordinator position in many California
school districts had silenced the voice of advocacy for music education at the
administrative levels.
Further research indicates that such political and budgetary issues have an
affect on music education at the administrative level throughout the United
States. Abril and Gault (2006) asked a random sample of 350 elementary school
principals to complete a survey, which examined their perspectives regarding
music education in the elementary school. Respondents (N = 214) reported that
the No Child Left Behind Act, financial constraints, and scheduling difficulties
all had a negative impact on music education. Interestingly, the same group of
principals indicated they were satisfied with the learning goals attained by their
school music programs.

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Charles R. Ciorba/Melanie McLay

In addition, overall public attitudes towards music education remain positive.
The Gallup organization (2003) conducted a random telephone survey for the
National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) to examine the American
publics’ attitudes toward instrumental music. In 2003, between February 4 and
March 8, 1,005 telephone interviews were conducted. It was reported that 95% of
the respondents indicated that music should be part of a well-rounded education.
Moreover, 93% of the respondents believed that music should be part of the regular
school curriculum.
While research has shown that economic and political issues can have a
negative effect on music education (Abril & Gault, 2006; Center on Education
Policy, 2007; Music for All Foundation, 2004), additional research has shown
that public (Gallup, 2003) and administrative (Abril & Gault, 2006) support for
music education does exist. According to Boyle (1992), when music programs
are in jeopardy, evaluation has become an essential tool for music educators.
Customarily, the evaluation of most music programs has been based solely on
musical performance. While performance evaluation remains important, this onedimensional approach is no longer appropriate in today’s atmosphere of highstakes testing. Parents and administrators expect more accountability from all
aspects of public education. Ciorba and Rand (2005) responded to this dilemma by
creating the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs
as a means to describe the logistics, function, and implementation of operations
in the high school band room with the intention of expanding the evaluation
practices available to high school music programs.
In order to fully understand the origins of the Whole School Effectiveness
Guidelines Survey for Music Programs, one needs to examine the characteristics
shared by successful schools, as outlined by Edmonds (1982). Edmonds found that
successful schools exhibited a combination of actions by both the school and the
family. Over the next two decades, these characteristics evolved into the Correlates of
Effective Schools. Lezotte (2008), a highly distinguished researcher for the Effective
Schools Movement, outlined the following correlates: (a) instructional leadership,
(b) clear and focused mission, (c) safe and orderly environment, (d) climate of high
expectations, (e) frequent monitoring of student progress, (f ) positive home-school
relations, and (g) opportunity to learn and student time on task.
During the 1999-2000 school year, a countywide school district in west central
Florida adopted the Correlates of Effective Schools in order to develop the Whole
School Effectiveness Model. This model was developed to provide an effective tool
for evaluating the operations of every school in the district. The correlates were
expanded to include the areas of professional development and school culture in

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Contributions to Music Education

hopes to provide a more effective tool for evaluation (Whole School Effectiveness
Model, n.d.). In 2002, the music educators within this district developed their own
framework for assessment based on the Whole School Effectiveness Model. The
nine music specific assessment areas were defined as: (a) music director as leader,
(b) clearly stated vision and mission, (c) safe, caring, and orderly environment,
(d) high expectations, (e) assessment and monitoring, (f ) parent and community
involvement, (g) instructional delivery, (h) professional development, and (i)
music program culture.
Ciorba and Rand (2005) utilized this framework to develop the Whole
School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs. This survey was
created to describe the logistics, function, and implementation of classroom
operations in the high school band classroom. The survey was administered
during a district wide in-service meeting to every high school band director and
one middle school band director (N = 24) from the district that originally adopted
the Whole School Effectiveness Model. Results indicated that the highest rated
self-reported responses addressed the areas of leadership and high achievement,
while the lowest rated self-reported responses addressed the area of interschool
communication. Participants reported that while they were able to communicate
their achievements and success with the parents and community, they were unable
to do so with administrators and fellow staff members.
Given these results, a need exists to expand the research conducted by
Ciorba and Rand (2005) in order to describe the classroom operations of K-12
music programs on a statewide level. The purpose of this study was to describe
Illinois music educators’ self-perceptions regarding the demographics, logistics,
function, and implementation of classroom operations using The Whole School
Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs. The results of this study may
provide an opportunity for participants to examine their strengths and weaknesses
regarding classroom operations, and determine whether specific trends among
Illinois music educators exist regarding operations in the K-12 music classroom.
Research Questions
1. What are the demographics of the sample as reported by the Whole
School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs?
2. How well does the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey
for Music Programs describe the self-perceptions of K-12 music
educators regarding the logistics, function, and implementation of
their classroom operations?

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Charles R. Ciorba/Melanie McLay

Method
Instrument
The survey administered in the present study was based on the original
design created by Ciorba and Rand (2005), although the wording for each survey
statement was changed to represent the entire range of K-12 music educators.
Secondly, three of the original survey statements, which described practices
specific to secondary music programs, were eliminated. Finally, two new survey
items designed to further describe operations in the K-12 music classroom were
included. A four-item Likert-type scale, with an optional N/A response, was
implemented for each statement: (a) not applicable (N/A) (b) never, (c) sometimes,
(d) often, and (e) always. The online survey tool SurveyMonkey was employed
to administer the survey via the Internet. The survey utilized SSL encryption
technology, which insured a secure line of communication, keeping responses
completely private during transmission. Music educators were informed that their
participation was voluntary. Participants’ names, the names of their schools, and
their email addresses were not recorded.
Procedures
During the summer of 2008, a list of music educators’ names and email
addresses was obtained through an Internet search of Illinois school district
websites. The Illinois State Board of Education website provided a complete list of
public school districts in the state of Illinois. From this list, the researchers visited
every school website throughout the state of Illinois and located the names and
email addresses of 2,790 music educators. In the fall of 2008, an initial invitation
was sent to each email address. One week later, an email reminder was sent to
those music educators who had not yet completed the survey. A final email request
was sent at the beginning of the third week. The survey link remained open for
14 weeks. A total of 1,135 participants responded to complete the online survey,
resulting in a 40.7% response rate.
Invitations were then sent first class mail, via the United States Postal Service,
to the 1,014 remaining schools whose teachers’ email addresses were not posted
on their schools’ websites. From this group, 339 schools listed the names of their
music faculty. These letters were addressed directly to each faculty member. Letters
sent to the remaining 675 schools that did not have the names of their music
faculty listed on their website were addressed, “ATTN: Music Specialist.” Each
letter provided a link, which directed participants to a website consisting of the
consent letter and a link to the online survey. From this group, 128 participants

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completed the survey for a 12.6% response rate. The overall statewide sample (N
= 1,251) was comprised of 808 female and 433 male participants. Ten participants
chose not to identify their gender.

Results
In addition to completing the survey items, participants were asked to indicate:
(a) years of teaching experience, (b) school setting (urban, rural, or suburban),
and (c) area(s) of expertise. The category indicating years of teaching experience
was distributed as follows: (a) 194 participants (15.5%) taught 1-4 years, (b) 280
participants (22.4%) taught 5-10 years, (c) 175 participants (14%) taught 1115 years, (d) 155 participants (12.4%) taught 16-20 years, (e) 158 participants
(12.6%) taught 21-25 years, (f ) 147 participants (11.8%) taught 26-30 years, and
(g) 142 participants (11.4%) taught over 30 years.
In the area of school setting: (a) 748 participants (59.8%) reported teaching
in a suburban setting, (b) 292 participants (23.3%) reported teaching in a rural
setting, (c) 185 participants (14.8%) reported teaching in an urban setting, (d) 20
participants (1.6%) reported teaching in a rural/suburban setting, (e) 5 participants
(.4%) reported teaching in an urban/suburban setting, and (f ) 1 participant (.1%)
reported teaching in a suburban/rural/urban setting.
Participants were asked to indicate their area(s) of expertise (see Table 1) by
checking all that applied to the following areas: (a) elementary general music, (b)
elementary orchestra, (c) elementary band, (d) middle school general music, (e)
middle school orchestra, (f ) middle school band, (g) middle school jazz band,
(h) middle school choir, (i) high school orchestra, (j) high school band, (k) high
school jazz band, and (l) high school choir.
Results revealed that: (a) 528 participants (42%) reported teaching in one area
of expertise, (b) 341 participants (27.3%) reported teaching in two areas of expertise,
(c) 371 participants (29.7%) reported teaching in three or more areas of expertise,
and (d) 11 participants (0.9%) did not indicate their area(s) of expertise.
Participants also had the opportunity to specify other areas of expertise not
included in the survey. Interestingly, 225 additional responses were reported,
ranging from preschool music instruction through adult community choirs. Other
areas included, but were not limited to, various levels of music theory, multicultural
music ensembles, percussion ensembles, guitar, recorder, piano, and marching
band auxiliary. One participant reported teaching a rock & roll methods course.
Means and standard deviations were calculated for participants’ responses to
survey items and summarized in Table 2. The six highest mean scores were attributed

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Charles R. Ciorba/Melanie McLay

to the following items: (a) The music educator provides a non-threatening, nonoppressive environment for student learning (M = 3.85), (b) The music educator
strives to provide every student with the opportunity to learn what he or she needs
to know in order to succeed at the next level of learning (M = 3.83), (c) The music
educator models effective leadership for her/his students (M = 3.82), (d) The music
educator believes, demonstrates, and promotes the belief that all students can achieve
at a high level (M = 3.78), (e) The music educator consistently uses effective teaching
practices in essential content and skill areas (M = 3.77), and (f ) The music educator
attends staff meetings as required by the district and participates in activities that
will improve student achievement (M = 3.75).
Table 1
Participants’ Area(s) of Expertise
n

Percentage

278

22.2%

9

0.7%

Elementary Band

26

2.1%

Middle School General Music

12

1.0%

Middle School Orchestra

33

2.6%

Middle School Band

24

1.9%

Middle School Choir

12

1.0%

High School Orchestra

20

1.6%

High School Band

28

2.2%

3

0.2%

Area(s) of Expertise

Elementary General Music
Elementary Orchestra

High School Jazz Band
High School Choir

83

6.6%

Two Areas of Expertise

341

27.3%

Three Areas of Expertise

209

16.7%

Four Areas of Expertise

75

6.0%

Five Areas of Expertise

50

4.0%

Six Areas of Expertise

19

1.5%

Seven Areas of Expertise

15

1.2%

Eight Areas of Expertise

2

0.2%

Nine Areas of Expertise

1

0.1%

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Contributions to Music Education
Table 2
Descriptive Statistics for Survey Response Items
M

SD

3.82

0.43

The music educator leads, manages, and communicates the
total music program to the staff, students, and parents.

3.55

0.70

The music educator stays informed with the curriculum and
instruction of other subject areas in the school.

2.93

0.78

The music educator provides the school staff with information
on the goals of the music program at her/his school.

2.52

0.91

The music educator shares current music research at faculty,
team, and subject area meetings.

2.08

0.87

3.45

1.01

The music program’s vision/mission statement emphasizes
musical achievement.

3.30

0.99

The music program’s vision/mission is clearly understood by
parents and students.

2.88

0.86

Survey Items by Composite Area

Music Educator as Leader
The music educator models effective leadership for her/his
students.

Clearly Stated Vision and Mission
The music program’s vision/mission statement includes the
understanding that all students can learn, although different
teaching, learning, and pacing strategies may be needed.

Music goals are part of the goals for the school.

2.25

1.12

The music program’s vision/mission statement is printed and
posted in the music room, and communicated to parents and
staff at all programs.

2.10

1.17

3.85

0.40

The music educator expresses pride in her/his facility and works
to ensure the room is attractive, effective, and productive.

3.61

0.74

The music room is orderly, caring, purposeful, and businesslike.

3.37

0.80

High Expectations
The music educator believes, demonstrates, and promotes the
belief that all students can achieve at a high level.

3.78

0.47

3.50

0.79

Safe, Caring, and Orderly Environment
The music educator provides a non-threatening, non-oppressive
environment for student learning.

The music educator frequently states a clear expectation for high
quality student performance to students, parents, and the
community.

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Charles R. Ciorba/Melanie McLay
Music goals are posted in the music room.

2.47

1.20

Music goals are placed in the music handbook and reviewed
during parent meetings, as well as reinforced through the year.

2.44

1.46

3.71

0.60

The music educator uses student assessment results to improve
instructional delivery.

3.48

0.74

The music educator monitors student grades, discipline referrals,
and daily attendance.

3.46

0.91

Student music progress is monitored frequently with a variety of
measures.

3.45

0.67

The music educator meets with students who are receiving low
grades and helps them with an improvement plan.

2.71

1.11

2.94

1.04

The views of parents are recognized, valued, and considered when
planning curriculum, events, and programs for students.

2.92

0.86

Parents support the music program’s mission and play an active
role in its achievement.

2.88

0.85

Parents are given an opportunity to read, sign, and return a form
that states their understanding of the music program policies and
procedures.

2.87

1.40

Parent participation/membership is encouraged and solicited on
all music projects.

2.84

1.09

3.83

0.45

The music educator consistently uses effective teaching practices
in essential content and skill areas.

3.77

0.49

The music educator knows the ISAT goals for the school.

3.24

1.02

3.75

0.57

Assessment and Monitoring
The music educator supervises and assesses student
performance.

Parent and Community Involvement
The music educator and parents communicate within the first
weeks of school and at least once during each grading period.

Instructional Delivery
The music educator strives to provide every student with the
opportunity to learn what she/he needs to know in order to
succeed to the next level of learning.

Professional Development
The music educator attends staff meetings as required by the
district and participates in activities that will improve student
achievement.

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Contributions to Music Education
The music educator participates in professional development
meetings that provide best practices in the classroom.

3.30

0.80

The music educator attends state clinics and/or conferences.

3.24

0.89

The music educator devotes the bulk of her/his time and energy
to improving the quality of her/his teaching and learning.

3.23

0.76

The music educator demonstrates the beliefs embedded in the
vision and mission that support the instructional program.

3.60

0.74

The music program’s culture (climate) supports the needs of
the students, parents, and community.

3.47

0.66

The music educator includes the music program’s expectations
in the school handbook for students.

2.19

1.51

Music Program Culture

Note. Survey statements were matched to a four-item Likert-type scale with an optional N/A response: (a)
Not Applicable (N/A), (b) Never, (c) Sometimes, (d) Often, and (e) Always.

Items attributed to the six lowest mean scores were: (a) Music goals are posted
in the music room (M = 2.47), (b) Music goals are placed in the music handbook
and reviewed during parent meetings, as well as reinforced throughout the year
(M = 2.44), (c) Music goals are part of the goals for the school (M = 2.25), (d) The
music educator includes the music program’s expectations in the school handbook
for students (M = 2.19), (e) The music program’s vision/mission statement is
printed and posted in the music room, and communicated to parents and staff at
all programs (M = 2.10), and (f ) The music educator shares current music research
at faculty, team, and subject area meetings (M = 2.08).

Discussion
The purpose of this study was to describe Illinois music educators’ selfperceptions regarding the demographics, logistics, function, and implementation
of their classroom operations using the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines
Survey for Music Programs. An examination of participants’ teaching specialties
revealed that 528 participants (42%) reported teaching in one area of expertise,
while 712 participants (57%) reported teaching in two or more areas of expertise.
These findings are analogous with those reported by Rosenthal (2005), who
acknowledged that many music educators in the state of Illinois are required to
assume multiple teaching responsibilities. With over half the sample reporting
that they teach in two or more areas of expertise, one needs to ask whether
undergraduate music education majors are receiving a variety of general, vocal,
and instrumental teaching methods courses in order to prepare them for today’s

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Charles R. Ciorba/Melanie McLay

job market. It should be noted that while a comparison of the survey responses
from teachers in various subject areas (e.g., general music versus performancebased courses, instrumental music versus vocal music courses, or primary versus
secondary grade levels) could yield enlightening results, the present data could not
support such a comparison. With the majority of participants reporting teaching
in multiple subject areas, it would not be plausible to break down the results based
on these criteria.
Descriptive statistics were calculated to describe the self-perceptions of
K-12 music educators regarding the logistics, function, and implementation of
their classroom operations. A mean score analysis revealed that five of the six
highest rated self-reported responses were attributed to teaching effectiveness and
leadership qualities. The application of effective teaching practices is imperative
in today’s music classroom. According to the results reported from the Center on
Education Policy (2007), many music programs are having their hours cut to make
more instructional time available for English language arts and math. Effective
teaching practices result in improved classroom efficiency. This is extremely
important, as today’s music educators may be required to do more in less time.
The six lowest rated self-reported responses were attributed to participants’
self-perceptions regarding the communication of goals, expectations, vision, and
mission to parents and the rest of the educational community. If music educators
are not communicating their goals, expectations, vision, and mission with parents
and the rest of the educational community, the significance of their programs
run the risk of being overlooked by administrators and teachers outside of music.
Furthermore, if music education is not represented at the administrative levels,
music programs run the risk of being eliminated in an atmosphere where a
strained economy can result in budget cuts (Music for All Foundation, 2004),
and standardized testing issues can result in a decreased time allotment for music
education (Center on Education Policy, 2007).
Edmonds (1982) reported that successful schools share a combination of
actions by both the school and the family. It is recommended that K-12 music
educators in the state of Illinois post their goals, expectations, vision, and mission
statement in the classroom, and review them at all parent meetings and music
programs. Parents are often the strongest advocates for music education (Gallup
Organization, 2003) and it is important for them to be aware of the operations in
the music classroom. Music educators are also encouraged to discuss their goals,
expectations, vision, and mission with students throughout the year. It is further
recommended they be placed in the school handbook and communicated with
administrators and fellow staff members.

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Contributions to Music Education

The results from this study are similar to those reported by Ciorba and
Rand (2005). Participants from both studies reported positive self-perceptions
in relation to their teaching abilities and leadership qualities, yet were less
positive regarding the issue of interschool communication. Due to the nature
of the self-reported responses utilized in both surveys, caution should be taken
when interpreting the results. Even though participants reported being effective
teachers and leaders, this does not necessarily imply that they are. As a result, the
conclusions drawn from both studies can only be attributed to participants’ selfperceptions. With that said, it is interesting to note that the two samples of music
educators, representing two different geographical areas of the United States,
exhibited similar trends when responding to the survey items. Administration of
the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs beyond a
regional level is recommended to determine if similar self-perceptions exist among
music educators in other parts of the United States. With the advent of online
survey applications such as SurveyMonkey, administration of the Whole School
Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs across several regions, or a
nationwide investigation, is indeed possible.
The response rate for participants contacted via first class mail was
significantly lower than the response rate for the participants contacted via email.
These results are similar to those reported by Miksza, Roeder, and Biggs (2010),
although further research regarding the response rates of electronic versus hard
copy versions of surveys has exhibited varied results (Dixon & Turner, 2007;
Mehta & Sivadas, 1995; Miksza, Roeder, & Biggs 2010; Shannon & Bradshaw,
2002). As such, the cause for such discrepancy between response rates for the
electronic versus hard copy surveys in the present study cannot be determined.
Possible factors may have included: (a) the anonymity associated with many of
the first class mail invitations, (b) the inconvenience associated with responding
to a survey invitation sent first class mail, or (c) a lack of music teachers in the
schools contacted via first class mail. It is possible the different contact approaches
(email vs. first class mail) could have affected the representation of the sample
population. Many of the less affluent rural and urban districts may have had web
pages that were not as well maintained as the more affluent suburban districts. It
is recommended that future research include a more thorough approach to data
collection in the urban and rural areas to insure a comprehensive representation of
the entire sample population.
Further recommendations include a follow-up study examining the
expectations from administrators who hire music educators. The results from such
a study may provide a better understanding of the skills required for those who

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Charles R. Ciorba/Melanie McLay

wish to teach music. We further recommend an investigation of university music
education programs to determine if undergraduate music education majors are
receiving a variety of teaching methods courses for the versatile work requirements
expected of them. In addition, future research examining whether undergraduate
methods courses are addressing the creation and application of goals, expectations,
vision, and mission with future music educators may be of value to the field of
music education.
The results drawn from this survey indicate that the Whole School
Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs may provide valuable
information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of classroom operations as
reflected by the self-perceptions of K-12 music educators. It is hoped that this
survey can provide an effective tool for describing the logistics, function, and
implementation of operations within our K-12 public music classrooms, while
further expanding the evaluation practices of music educators.
Received February 14, 2009; Revision received August 6, 2009; Accepted December
24, 2009.

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