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Boston Latin School losing another administrator

Mulhern

Jonathan Mulhern, associate head of school of Boston Latin School, is leaving to become a middle-school principal in Canton.

Head of School Rachel Skerritt had announced her resignation in March.

Mulhern had been a BLS administrator since 2011, and associate head of school since 2018. Before that, he taught English.

In a statement, Canton Superintendent Derek Folan, said he is thrilled to have Mulhern:

For the last decade, he has proven to be a highly effective leader for middle grades, facilitating best instructional practices to promote strong student achievement, educational equity, and effective social and emotional growth.

In 2016, after then BLS Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta resigned, an assistant headmaster resigned as well.

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Comments

I did know Merriam-Webster had updated their definition of resigned too "pushed off the plank by the Too Stupid To Get Into Latin Crowd".

I spoke with two students who are doing their student teaching at the school a few weeks back. The reports are that the school is tense and the faculty is pissed as hell with the way the academic standards are being messed with by the City.

Nice job BPS. Make sure you burn down the house owing that the forest around it was on fire. That'll show them.

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Voting closed 77

I mean, you might be right, I don't know. But they were saying the same things after Mooney Teta and Flynn resigned in 2016.

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Voting closed 13

You don't leave Latin, especially, if you might be in line to move up to takeover there, to go to a pretty decent school system in the burbs, unless the interference from above is too much to handle.

387 years was a good run.

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Voting closed 60

Ms. Skerritt and. Mr. Mulhearn both LOVE the BLS community. They are both alums, strong supporters of academic excellence and the arts. They love these kids! Unlike previous heads of school, I simply can’t imagine either wanting leave so abruptly… Unless they are being forced out.

Voting has consequences.

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Voting closed 42

And he knew it, which is why he left. Most people in education would take a job as principal in any district.

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Voting closed 19

Yeah looking at his background , he is an English teacher with a start in Catholic Schools. I look at his resume and he seems to be more about getting stuff done then being flashy and I suspect these days that is easier to do in Canton rather than Boston Latin where nobody can even agree on what type of school it should be. If there was a structured format to the craziness it would be exciting but I sure would not hang my professional career on a hook that is not secure. Running Boston Latin right now is a bad career move in my opinion. Once the city is able to move on , regardless of what the decision is, then I would think it would be a safe place to operate again.

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Voting closed 8

The admissions standards were not watered down when Lynn and Mal left. The word from teachers working at BLS is that morale is low. The sixie class is a disaster. Students admitted under the new lottery/no test/"B" GPA system are woefully unprepared for the rigors of the traditional BLS curriculum.

Students are failing at an alarming rate (close to 50%) and no amount of extra tutoring is helping. Many of the new students are not motivated to do the work at BLS. As one teacher recently put it: "They do not have that fire in their bellies that prior classes had. They did not earn their spot, it was handed to them." The school is dealing with discipline problems and fights are breaking out in school - issues that were not prevalent in prior years.

Reports are that many students are struggling with basic elementary school math, and they are not prepared for pre-algebra (the only math class offered at BLS in 7th grade). BLS is not meant for students who need remedial education. Only some students were "selected" to take the National Latin Exam this year, when in prior years all 7th graders took the exam. Students are reading one book in English class in 5 months, when in the past it was a book a month at minimum, and it was the classics, not graphic novels. The curriculum is indeed being watered down - way down!

No wonder the administration is heading out the door.

It is sad to see the destruction of the only decent schools left in BPS!

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Voting closed 25

Too stupid to get in? I have known plenty of folks that have not gotten in with high scores...they didn't cry about their entitlement being taken away...they went to another school.

We are an inequitable city when it comes to BLS (and many other things)...you didn't hit a home run when you were born on 3rd base.

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Voting closed 9

If my immigrant MBTA bus driver dad with an 8th grade education and a GED from the Burke was still alive, I would tell him how we were really rich growing up. Boy won't he be shocked.

We have a class reunion coming up. I will tell all my great classmates who grew up in Dot, the Bury, Mattapan, Charlestown and Chinatown in the 80's that we were all born on 3rd base. We just didn't realize it.

We didn't grow up middle class (unlike some people who post anons and sent their kids to BLS), but go with the fantasy.

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Voting closed 6

Your dad was just a public employee with a steady salary, health care, and a pension? How ever did you survive?

Thanks to your incredible education at BLS, you must have a super career now. Are you sending your kids to BLS too?

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Voting closed 7

You're hearing about the teachers who don't want to adapt their methods to teach a new crop of kids who don't already ace every test put in front of them. I.e., teachers who are comfortable lecturing and assigning chapters and have never been pushed to do more.

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Voting closed 30

really aren't going to learn anything in school anymore, not at any level. Corporate ideology has a different agenda and I really hate to say that, because of how easily one can be accused of being racist of one says something anti-corporate. Let that one sink in. A student in a class cannot allow themselves to question the context that might have made a person represent an idea ironically, precisely because you can only represent certain ideas and not others. I'm not even saying that the world is flat people have a viable point of view; what I am saying is worse: by analogy, you will find that your students or children cannot intellectually critique the world is flat point of view because the idea of that absurdity is banned entirely, even from intellectually appropriate critique.

If you want your children to be able to actually think, imagine, and interpret reality, soon your last option will be to buck the trend of Insta-meaning, and turn them into life long readers. Until there is an obvious corporate junta to burn all the books you still have a shot to transmit skills to your offspring. And no, as repellent as white racist book burnings are, the are not the ENTIRE problem. We are being played, or maybe I should say, paved.

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Voting closed 24

Well at least you've seemingly learned a lot from Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson.

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Voting closed 22

I'm going to send some to your house.

You appear to being just throwing crap at the wall to see if it sticks and then run around screaming because someone disagrees with you.

Hope you get your cage cleaned soon.

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Voting closed 24

cries about the word becoming flesh, and acts like a Marxist sub around older taller, men who represent his ideas about a Western cannon. Ben Shapiro is a parrot.

Who are you taking it for? Sounds to me like the guilt by association people have you in there pretty tight.

Guilt by association we have to be careful with. At least if we want to be responsible.

It is responsible to associate corporations with culpability. I'm sorry nobody ever taught you how to actually think. And it sounds like its really too late.

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Voting closed 4

I think it is pretty fine to call out a nonsense post ranting about how all education is corporate propaganda and how things called out for being racists are just "anti-corporate" in disguise. Or that proper debate is disappearing or any nonsense like arguing the earth is flat won't be possible as the thought police will censor the entire notion of it.

Utter load of nonsense - unless you think BLS is now owned by corporations and not teaching critical thinking skills while burning books? Cause, newsflash: most of the burning of books and banning of them from school curriculum is happening in states like Florida by conservative right-wing Republicans, and not at Boston Latin or by "corporations".

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Voting closed 19

And caring about your child’s education makes you racist and aligned with Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson?

What world is this?

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Voting closed 22

If that is the level of reading comprehension nowadays. They claim education doesn't exist anymore as corporations have taken it over at all levels - including the Latin School, I guess? Also equates accusations of racism aren't racism because people are making anti-corporate commentary - a mind-boggling bizarre stance. The comment had nothing to do with caring about your child's education and is a string of unsubstantiated and at best anecdotal observations about the entirety of all education in the country, none of which applies to BLS, and most of which are essentially right-wing talking points attaching education.

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Voting closed 12

I think that some of the replies to my comment are wicked stupid or willfully naive
For example, it is my responsibility alone, apparently, (as someone who dared to speak) to make my argument about how to accurately levy accusations of racism? Of course racism is a fundamental problem and one that is only served by futile ideas like yours who can't actually question anything.

Also does John Costello have insults that don't derive from his sense that the property he lives in is better than yours?

It's the portfolios, stupid.

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Voting closed 5

For saying a lot without making any sense.

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Voting closed 8

I love it: write something outrageously stupid and idiotic, then complain about people wanting you to actual follow up your rambling conspiracy theory with any type of actual facts on the barely legible rant you posted, and question why it is up to you to back up what you wrote in argument - oh woe is you, Mr. Anon, that no one else is doing your work for you. 0/10 on the attempt.

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Voting closed 4

Or maybe the subject should have been "reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

It's still one of the hardest schools to get into in the state. It is still one of the most selective schools in the state.

According to the graphs and charts and numbers - the racial make up of the school may change some (that's what people are really pissed about), but not really that much.

The grades and test scores needed to get in have changed very little. It will still reflect "the best and brightest" of Boston, whatever that means.

The major change is that parents who pay big money year after year for tutoring and test prep will see that prep yield smaller results than it has in the past. But only slightly.

And of course, if you don't like it, don't send your kids there.

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Voting closed 25

You clearly have no idea what you are talking about!

Admission for the last 2 years has essentially been by lottery - no test. In the past pretty much no one got into BLS with a GPA lower than an "A", in the past two years students who had a "B" GPA could be admitted.

It is sadly no longer the best and brightest.

A test is back this year, so that may help return some rigor to the school.

Maybe you should check your facts before you post!

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Voting closed 20

Would be fascinating to see your source for these claims.

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On how mediocrity is good.

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Voting closed 38

"Best and Brightest" was not meant to be a compliment by the late great David Halberstam.

The Whiz Kids from Harvard in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations were supposed to be the shining stars but they ended up bollixing everything up in Vietnam. Not saying anything disparaging about Harvard but someone, I think it is the person calling the shots in the city, went to Harvard as well. That person's name escapes me currently.

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Voting closed 25

So b/c some folks in the city w/ certain zip codes and privilege have had every advantage given to them & their children you think others that can't get in are "mediocre?"

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Voting closed 10

Right on the head.

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Voting closed 3

"The major change is that parents who pay big money year after year for tutoring and test prep will see that prep yield smaller results than it has in the past. But only slightly."

How times have changed in the several eternities since I took (and passed) the BLS test in the early 70s. There was no "test prep" and no tutoring. I just walked in cold and took it. I had no idea what it would consist of and I assume it was the same with everybody else at that time.

I don't remember much about the test except it was one of those "A is to B as X is to Y" type things. I didn't even think one could prepare in advance for those.

Maybe part of the problem is there is too much "advance preparing" for this kind of thing now. It might improve things to get back to a purer state. But the genie is out of the bottle so its probably not possible.

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Voting closed 23

In the 1970s there wasn't test prep so no one had an advantage because of that. There was school segregation though. And hundreds of other things that gave certain people advantages over others. We can't control for all of them, but we can certainly try to address some of them. I'm sure you deserved to get in, but other people did as well and never even got close to a fair shot.

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Voting closed 14

When I was at BLS in the early, pre-busing 70s, having come from a basically all white Boston grammar school, it seemed to my 12 year old ('sixie") self that there were more African-American and Asian students than I had ever seen in one place (although the terms African-American and Asian were not in common usage then). Of course, coming from my background, that wasn't saying much. But there were enough that it makes me think that it may just have been the one of the most integrated Boston school at that time. Again, not enough, but there you have it. I only recall a small-ish smattering of Latinos though. And in those days the school was all boys.

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Voting closed 9

Boston schools were less segregated in the 70s than they are today.

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Voting closed 21

Busing failed and deserves to be left behind. People should go to their local school regardless of race. Thinking you can dictate people’s lives based on skin color is some outdated, racist garbage. How about holding all schools (and students) to higher standards? Moving or lowering goals and expectations does not help the students become better adept at facing adversity in life.

It makes you wonder, what really are the goals in education?

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Voting closed 21

The lack of neighborhood schools is a patronizing, the-government-knows-best solution to the school issue. We've seen plenty of times in this city where a group of parents gets together and gets involved with the school and build community and create tangible, real improvements - just to have their kids age out and be bussed to a different school and kid #2 and kid #3 going to a different school, the older kids having no reason to ever swing by their previous school since it's miles away across the city, etc.

Meanwhile Boston twiddles its thumbs "well if we can't have all the schools be great, none of them should be". It's like a doctor in an ER running around, spending 15 seconds with every patient there, instead of doing some actual triage.

Building local, involved, motivated communities of parents, kids, neighbors, graduates, and school staff should be a strategy to get some of the middling schools up to snuff. If the city can manage to produce more than three decent schools, families and kids will stay, and keep their money and helicopter stay at home parents involved, and it creates a positive cycle of investment and resources.

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Voting closed 10

You know I love citations.

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Voting closed 4

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/08/04/bosto...

Nearly 60 percent of the city’s schools meet the definition of being intensely segregated — meaning students of color occupy at least 90 percent of the seats. Two decades ago, 42 percent of schools were intensely segregated. Many of these schools are low performing.

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016...

Today, Boston’s schools are even more segregated than they were before busing began: 86 percent of its students are nonwhite and, as of the 2014-15 school year, 78 percent are low income. In Boston and across the country, this trend toward resegregation is compounded by waning teacher diversity: Classrooms filled entirely with black and Latino children often have a white teacher at the blackboard.

https://www.bostonindicators.org/reports/report-we...

In light of the well-documented benefits of school integration, it is sobering that Boston’s public schools are becoming dramatically less racially and socioeconomically integrated. As Figure 17 shows, more than three quarters (77 percent) of Black students and nearly two thirds (64 percent) of Latino students attend schools in which 90 percent or more of all enrolled students are students of color. Such schools are often considered “intensely segregated”—a definition popularized by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA and now used widely in today’s discussions of school segregation in the press.

Overall, fully two thirds (66 percent) of all students of color in 2019 attended intensely segregated schools—a share dramatically higher than even a few decades ago.

If you want a picture of the kind of "segregation" busing was intended to remediate, look at the 1930s class picture from the Ellis School in Roxbury.

IMAGE(https://www.davidellisk5.org/uploads/1/3/3/7/133755390/1930-class-pic-ellis-school_orig.jpg)

Yes, that meets the definition of "segregated," per the Racial Imbalance Act of 1965: "racial imbalance shall be deemed to exist when the percent of nonwhite students in any public school is in excess of fifty percent of the total number of students in such school."

That would be one of the least segregated schools in Boston today. Few kids in BPS get to go to a school that integrated anymore.

If you want a picture of what segregation looks like today, look at any BPS school that is 98+% Black and Hispanic. Like, say, the Ellis.

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Voting closed 13

Those are sobering numbers but what is the percentage of children of color compared to white kids in the city, period? If the city's population of school age kids is 40-60 white-other, then the idea of achieving schools that are 'desegregated' per the definition above is doomed to fail.

And that's not even accounting for a bunch of the school age population not being in BPS period. The article says that 86% of all BPS students across the system are non-white. I don't know how you desegregate that, short of the city going around and forcibly closing all the private schools. You just can't get schools with a 50-50 split from those numbers, regardless of what you do with Latin. It's a mathematical impossibility - so why continue the charade and the bussing and the time and money, give people neighborhood schools back and use 3 million a year to hire librarians and art teachers and install air conditioning.

The real damning number in my mind is the 78% low income. Essentially anyone who can afford something better for their kids (which, in this country, means people who are more likely to be white), is choosing to do so. Poor kids require a lot more resources for a lot less academic return, and people who are otherwise pretty hip and liberal on issues of race and equality and such aren't going to light their own kids on fire to light the way to the future when it means they'll be stuck in a classroom of kids (who through no fault of their own) can't read by the fourth grade. They'll leave. And then the poor kids get screwed even more.

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Voting closed 4

If you listen to Boston politicians, it sounds more like they're inebriating.

They can't stop fighting the same lost fights. They can't stop fronting. They can't win, and they can't stop, and it's forbidden to tell them the war is over.

Boston's population increased from 563K to 696K from 1980 to 2018. In the same time period, the school-aged population decreased from almost 100K to 75K. What Boston is losing fastest is middle income families. From 1980 to 2017, Boston gained 6K low-income families, gained 1K high-income families, and lost 6K middle-income families. Read this report:

https://www.bostonindicators.org/-/media/indicators/boston-indicators-re...

If we look at the racial demographics of Boston, the total population of Boston is around 44% white. How does this happen? Roughly half of our middle-income and high-income families leave Boston when their kids reach school age, and that phenomenon is most marked among white families. This leaves Boston with 45% fewer 5 to 9 year olds than 0 to 4 year olds. The school-age population, thus, is around 18% white, and around 70% Black and Hispanic. As soon as you get past the 15-17 group into the 18-19 group, the white population rebounds from 18% to 50%.

By the definitions that forced busing on Boston, the entire school system exhibits "racial imbalance," and there is absolutely no way to make desegregated schools by busing a segregated population back and forth across the city. There's no magic shell game with buses that will make desegregated schools appear; that pea just isn't under any of them.

We all already knew these things. Will somebody tell our politicians?

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Voting closed 6

Are you directing these comments to the Asian families that these new policies are actively discriminating against?

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Voting closed 37

The demographics of those receiving admission offers to the highly competitive Boston Latin School also changed significantly. The portion going to Black applicants increased to 22 percent compared to 6 percent two years ago, while those sent to Latino applicants rose to 21 percent compared to 12 percent two years ago.

By contrast, the portion of seventh-grade invitations for Latin School going to white applicants dropped by more than half, to 23 percent for next fall compared to 50 percent for fall 2020, while invitations to Asian applicants increased 2 percentage points to 29 percent.

How much do you think the Asian invitation rate would have gone up without these measures?

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Voting closed 9

But administrators were not fleeing then. Losses like these will show up in decades, not next year.

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Voting closed 4

applications for seventh grade admission were down dramatically. The three exam schools received 1,283 for next fall, down from 1,666 last year under the ZIP code plan, and from 2,833 two years ago under the old admission policy.

Less than half the applications of two years ago. Almost all of the kids who applied to the exam schools for this fall got in, 2/3 to their first choice (pro-tip: not all kids put BLS as first choice).

Overall, 67 percent of the 1,283 seventh-grade applicants received an invitation to their first-choice school, 8 percent to their second choice school, and 3 percent to their third-choice school, while 22 percent did not receive an invitation.

If that were a private school, it would be considered non-selective. Harder schools to get into include most private schools in Massachusetts.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/05/11/metro/more-low-income-students-ga...

It is inevitable that accepting kids with lower standardized test scores coming in will result in lower test scores measured later on, so simplistic rating systems based mostly on test scores will see BLS' position decline.

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Voting closed 8

Why haven't the Mayor and City Council decided yet on the elected vs. appointed school committee issue? The vote in November was decisive, so the only remaining question is over how many seats to elect and how many to appoint.

A very simple way to implement it having a 13-member school committee align with the 13-member city council. Elect 9 members representing each council district, while the Mayor appoints 4 members. As a happy coincidence, that ratio of 9:4 closely matches the yes:no votes from the ballot question.

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Voting closed 18

My guess is the mayor doesn't want to give up control. I don't blame her. Menino and Walsh didn't either so why should she? I don't agree, but I understand.

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Voting closed 12

Wu doesn't have to do anything and for political purposes it will be easy for her to slow-walk the process (years of community meetings to discuss exactly how it should be structured) and, ultimately, allow the state to kill it. She's smart enough to know that elections would introduce nothing but chaos into a school system that needs steady leadership.

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Voting closed 13

To keep the parents out of it?

Steady leadership? They have none regardless of elections.

Elections would actually hold those on the school committee accountable. Accountability in schools would be very refreshing.

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Voting closed 13

sinking yet?

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Voting closed 15

Ms. Skerritt graduated two years before me and Mr. Mulhern a year after, back when Mr. C was in charge. I find it surprising that fellow alumni would bail on the school when we are entering our "prime" and should be taking over leadership positions. That seems to imply the job is not what we once thought it was. I don't have an answer for why, but that seems to be the case.

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Voting closed 17

They can't keep teaching like it's 1950, and they can't find a way to move forward.

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Voting closed 14

there should be an elected School Committee. No more forcing people out.

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Voting closed 9

The guy has a good idea of what the MCAS scores look like for this year's sixies and is bailing out before BPS makes him the scapegoat.

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Voting closed 15