There Is No Excusing Racism

This has been a really devastating week for all of us. Racism is a stain on this country. Though it cannot be erased, we can work together to remedy its effects and make a future that reflects the values for which this country stands. We recognize that people of color experience the effects of racism every day, and that it impacts our students.

We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

We cannot let events like Charlottesville drive us apart. We have to work together. This is not the first time that hatred has raised its ugly head, and it won’t be the last time.

What’s happening is not okay today, it wasn’t okay yesterday, and it’s not okay for tomorrow. We stand together to raise our voice unequivocally that we do not tolerate racism and we will not be silent.

The League of Education Voters staff

Chris Korsmo, CEO
Daniel Zavala, Director of Policy and Government Relations
Leann Arend, Chief Operating Officer
Emily Ditty, Development Director
Nancy Hopkins, Senior Administrative and Accounting Assistant
Sandra Jarrard, Regional Field Director, Spokane
Ruvine Jiménez, Community Organizer, Tri-Cities Region
Arik Korman, Communications Director
Kelly Munn, State Field Director
Jessica Nieves, Development Associate
Angela Parker, Policy Analyst
Ashley Rammelsberg, Digital Communications Specialist
Jake Vela, Senior Policy Analyst
Julia Warth, Assistant Director of Policy and Government Relations
Joyce Yee, Community Organizer, South King County Region

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Tukwila GLAD Trains Teachers on English Language Learning

English Language Learners are engaged in an innovative way using methods developed by Project GLAD

Tukwila StudentThe Tukwila School District, one of the most diverse in the country, is in its third year of training elementary school teachers to engage English Language Learner (ELL) students in an innovative way. Project GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) was field tested for nine years by the United States Department of Education and has been deployed across the country for more than 20. It is a professional development model in the area of academic language acquisition and literacy, designed to specifically target and promote language skills, academic achievement, and cross-cultural skills with groundbreaking efficiency.

At Tukwila Elementary School, trainer Jennica Kantak taught 20 fourth-grade students with support from Vice Principal Carla Carrizosa in front of an audience of about 20 elementary teachers from across the district. So far, 72 of Tukwila’s 90 elementary school teachers have taken part in GLAD trainings, which are funded by the state’s Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program (TBIP) and federal Title III money.

GLAD student Tukwila GLAD training

In this particular English Language Arts summer school remedial class, Jennica stressed to her students, whom she addressed as scholars, the importance of 21st-century collaboration skills. The morning began with the mantra of “Show respect, make good decisions, and solve problems.” On a colorful chart, she listed how cooperation looks, highlighting actions such as using a positive tone of voice, keeping voices off, focusing on the speaker, sharing resources, and being brave, patient, kind, flexible and organized.
As tools to manage classroom engagement, Jennica recognized scholars who demonstrated model behavior by designating them as “scouts” to reward other scholars making good choices, she divided the class into color-coded teams, and awarded points to those teams in the spirit of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School.

The class began by practicing parts of speech by reading aloud and then deconstructing The Immigrant Chant (Immigrants Here, There) by Heidi Busk:

Immigrants here, immigrants there
Immigrants, immigrants everywhere!

Curious immigrants scrutinizing resolutely
Industrious immigrants working vigorously
Productive immigrants crating craftily
And new immigrants arriving eagerly

Immigrants in the cities
Immigrants around the orchards
Immigrants within our communities
And immigrants throughout the state

Immigrants here, immigrants there
Immigrants, immigrants everywhere!

Immigrants! Immigrants! Immigrants!

Student at Board with TeacherUsing the noun “immigrants,” groups of scholars formed sentences and then sang their creations to reinforce sentence construction that involved two adjectives, the noun, a verb, an adverb and prepositional phrase. One example earned the green team ten points: “Happy thirsty immigrants build nervously around the world.”

“Region” was the word of the day. Whenever Jennica would say “region,” scholars responded by repeating the word and its definition. Jennica employed a graphic organizer to teach the concept, focusing on the Puget Sound Lowlands. Different characteristics of the region, such as geography, climate, history/people, economy, and interesting facts, were each color-coded by category to aid recall. Tukwila Elementary Vice Principal Carla Carrizosa explained, “It is difficult for ELL students to learn to write, and the colors really help.”

The payoff happened when the teams played writing games. Each team came up with one sentence from the category of their choice, and each scholar took a turn writing. Everyone gathered together on the classroom carpet to read their work aloud and then revise their sentences. Acting in collaboration with facilitation from Jennica, the class composed topic and closing sentences, and together came up with:

“The Puget Sound Lowlands (PSL) is a distinct and unique region in Washington state. It was mostly forest, but now there are mostly towns and cities like Seattle, Olympia, and Tukwila. In this region, it rains 154 days per year. Some people in the PSL are Native Americans because they migrated nervously from Asia to Western Washington. The economy provides manufactured goods from Boeing and Microsoft as well as providing jobs for people. An interesting fact is (that) the Space Needle was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair. That is why the Puget Sound Lowlands is a good place for immigrants to live.”

Tukwila GLAD training GLAD teacher training   

With broad smiles all around, Jennica and her scholars performed a celebration dance to close out the morning. “I really enjoy being a GLAD trainer,” says Jennica, “And I wish GLAD could be in every school across the state.”

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August Education Advocate, our monthly enews

education advocate header



Arik Korman

Arik Korman, Communications Director

I would like to introduce myself – I’m Arik Korman, Communications Director at the League of Education Voters. I’ve been on staff since November 2015, and served on the Board for two years prior. I have a son who is going into third grade in public school, and I believe that education, when done right, is the great equalizer in society. I’ll be sending you the monthly Education Advocate e-news, and am happy to kick things off by sharing our 2017 Legislative Session Scorecard. The 2017 legislative session resulted in plenty of good progress for Washington’s students, but much work remains to be done. Check out our Legislative Scorecard to see how we did on our legislative priorities.

Also, we’d like to thank our generous donors from the second quarter of 2017. We couldn’t do our work without you, so if you haven’t supported us lately, you can still make a gift today.

Read below for more about our work.

Thanks again for all you do for Washington’s kids. We’re all in this together.

Arik Korman signature

WA Capitol Legislative BldgLegislative scorecard

Our legislative scorecard highlights some of our key legislative priorities and the results. We know that the end of a legislative session or the passage of a bill is not the end of our work, but rather a step in a continuing journey to bring every Washington student an excellent public education – from early learning through higher education – that provides the opportunity for success. Read the PDF now


Thank youThank you donors!

We are excited about the progress we are seeing for Washington students in 2017. Thank you to all of our donors – we couldn’t do this work without you! Read more



Girls drawing with pencilTeam Child on special education in Washington

We sat down with Team Child Legal Services Director David Huneryager to discuss the special education landscape in Washington state, this year’s US Supreme Court Endrew ruling and the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and what would happen if we all believe that every child can learn. Listen now


Teacher planner with appleBack to school: teacher resources

As temperatures rise in Washington and August begins, it’s one month until students will be back at their desks ready to learn. Teachers are preparing for the upcoming academic year, and we want to highlight some of our favorite teacher resources that can enhance their classrooms and (hopefully) make their lives easier. Read now


woman on computerWe’re making a new website and we need your help!

Take our short, 9 question survey now to help us build our new website. Thank you! Take the survey now

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Celebrating our 2017 Donors: Second Quarter

April 1–June 30, 2017

Thank youWe are excited about the progress we are seeing for Washington students in 2017. Thank you to all of our donors – we couldn’t do this work without you!

Donations are made to the League of Education Voters and the League of Education Voters Foundation by individuals, groups, and businesses throughout the community. These generous donations from those who believe in high-quality public education allow us to ensure measurable progress toward our vision that every student in Washington state has access to an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

We regret any omissions or errors to the donor list. Please contact our Development team using our contact form with any questions or to correct any information.


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Back to School: Teacher Resources

Back to School: Teacher Resources

Back to school time is almost here!

As temperatures rise in Washington and August begins, it’s one month until students will be back at their desks ready to learn. Teachers are preparing for the upcoming academic year, and we want to highlight some of our favorite teacher resources that can enhance their classrooms and (hopefully) make their lives easier.

Our favorite online teacher resources:


duolingo for schools Duolingo for Schools

Duolingo is one of the largest online academies for language learning, used by many institutions and governments for language instruction, and now teachers can harness their powerful resources too. Duolingo for Schools offers resources for classroom management, allowing teachers to view students progress, assessments, strengths and weaknesses. The feedback is personalized for each student, so each student can focus on the areas they need to focus on.


teacher on computerPBS Teacherline

Summer is a great time to focus on professional development. PBS Teacherline offers a variety of facilitated and self-paced courses that can enhance your teaching methods. Interested in teaching your students digital literacy? Looking for ways to up your STEM focus? PBS Teacherline has a variety of courses focusing on math, science, and technology, as well as language arts and history.


Google EarthGoogle Earth

Enhance your geography lessons with Google Earth. You can take your students on a journey soaring over the Amazon Rain Forest, on a tour of the Eiffel Tower, or explore the Rocky Mountains. Google Earth can add a stunning visual element to your lessons, allowing students to travel around the world and see what they are learning about in their geography lessons.


pbs learningmediaPBS LearningMedia

Another resource from PBS is their LearningMedia site partnered with their Teachers Lounge. PBS LearningMedia offers a wealth of lesson plans and resources, videos, and professional development resources. They offer breakdowns by grade level and subject matter if you’re looking for lessons for your students. The lessons also give information about what learning standards they cover. This website has a wealth of knowledge and resources ready to be tapped into!


smithsonianSmithsonian Education

Want to show your students dinosaur fossils up close? Interested in taking a look at the Star Spangled Banner? Looking to quiz your students on the U.S. Presidents? Smithsonian Education brings the vast resources of the Smithsonian into your classroom. History comes to life with their depth of resources, bringing your students closer to history.


Did we miss a resource you love? Let us know! Leave us a comment and let us know what resources you use in your classroom.

Check out our blog on Summer Learning Loss for even more online resources.

Happy teaching!

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July Education Advocate, the LEV Monthly E-news

education advocate header



Chris Korsmo

Chris Korsmo

Now that the state budget negotiations have finally crossed the goal line, I am happy to report that our legislature has made a huge investment in K-12 education! Thanks to your advocacy and support, schools with historically underserved students will get much-needed additional help. Read more about the legislature’s solution to the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision in this blog by Daniel Zavala, LEV’s director of policy and government relations. Be a part of this landmark moment! Help ensure that the McCleary decision is implemented to benefit every Washington student by making your gift today.

Also, LEV interviewed Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal about his long-term vision for K-12 education. And we’re hosting a free Lunchtime LEVinar July 20 on how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and complex trauma impacts student learning.

Read below for more about our work.

Thanks for all you do for kids. We couldn’t do it without you.

Chris Korsmo

Chris Reykdal OSPIChris Reykdal discusses his six-year K-12 education plan

League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal to discuss his six-year K-12 education plan, how the plan would prepare our kids for what comes after high school, and how we can help make it happen. Listen now



ACEs studentHow ACEs & Complex Trauma Impacts Student Learning

Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on lifelong health and opportunity. Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). David Lewis, Program Manager of Behavioral Health Services at Seattle Public Schools, will describe how trauma impacts a student’s ability to be successful, and will share best assessment and teaching practices. Register now


WA Capitol Legislative BldgWhat You Need To Know About the McCleary School Funding Agreement

In what was quite literally years in the making, the Legislature has at long last presented and passed a K-12 funding solution. And, perhaps surprisingly in today’s political climate, it was passed with strong bipartisan support. Read more


summer learning slide Summer Learning Loss, and What You Can Do To Prevent It

School is out and the sun is shining! While summer is filled with lots of fun, time away from school can have a negative impact on students. Read now



Get Involved

Join us for a LEVinar: How ACEs and Complex Trauma Impact Learning | Register now


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What You Need to Know about the McCleary School Funding Agreement

What You Need to Know about the McCleary School Funding Agreement

By Daniel Zavala, LEV Director of Policy and Government Relations

In what was quite literally years in the making, the Legislature has at long last presented and passed a K-12 funding solution. And, perhaps surprisingly in today’s political climate, it was passed with strong bipartisan support. Before I get into the details of the solution, let me spend some time talking about how we got to where we are… and it starts with a 2007 lawsuit called McCleary. The lawsuit was largely based on the inequities across districts resulting from disproportionate use and allocation of local levy money. Basically, the plaintiffs argued the state was not amply paying for basic education, something that is a paramount duty of the state. Fast forward to 2012… and the Washington Supreme Court agreed. Forward another few years, a couple of court orders, imposed sanctions on the legislature, and we arrive at the 2017 Legislative Session – the last regular session to address the court order to address the McCleary decision. What was left after the last 5 years was the need to continue progress on funding K-3 class size reduction and teacher compensation.

But most of us already know this saga and are frankly ready to hear the solution… or we are wondering what all the commotion around Olympia these days is about. Well, here are the high level details of the K-12 plan:

  • Overall some significant advances were made, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
  • Regarding funding, the legislature made historic increased investments in education.
  • Although the legislature directed some additional funding to programs for historically underserved students, the needs and opportunity gaps are vast. There is some promise with the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) receiving funds to identify key methods to do so using new data collection.
  • The prototypical funding formula (the state’s method of funding schools based on a school design to determine the number of teachers, principals, and other school staff that are needed to provide a basic education) will remain intact. Although a key source of inequity, the staff mix formula (paying districts based on the experience level of their teachers) was eliminated, some steps that might have modernized the funding formula to target funds and address the complex needs of some of the most at-risk student populations (such as special education students) were not adopted.
  • Auditing compliance and enforcement will be key to ensure we don’t get back to where we started – e.g. paying educators much more in property-rich districts. After all, policy is only as good as its implementation.
  • The agreement minimally addresses accountability, but there are other mechanisms under development to ensure our education system produces good results.

Want to know the deeper details of the plan? Take a look at our McCleary Agreement Overview and Analysis.

Okay, so if you are still with me, whether it is actually 5 years later or, after trying to digest all of that information it feels like 5 years, you likely have two questions remaining:

  1. Does this solution pass constitutional muster, i.e. will we have made the court happy?
  2. What does all this mean and what is next?

As to the first question, only the nine justices that sit in that high court can properly answer that question. However, in their order they noted that the K-12 funding had to be regular and dependable in addressing K-3 class size reduction and teacher compensation. There is strong evidence to suggest this plan does that.

As to the second question, that answer is far more complex and probably better suited over another LEVinar or post(s). But in short, it means that our state may be moving on to the next stage of education advocacy in this state — from Does this satisfy McCleary? to What do we need to do to address the growing gaps in our system between historically underserved students and their college-bound peers?

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Summer Learning Loss, and What You Can Do To Prevent It

Summer Learning Loss, and What You Can Do To Prevent It

Summer learning loss, what is it?

School is out and the sun is shining! While summer is filled with lots of fun, time away from school can have a negative impact on students. Summer learning loss occurs when students don’t reinforce what they have learned throughout the school year, leading to a loss in knowledge and the need for teachers to spend the first weeks of school re-teaching skills that students learned the previous year. While there are many factors that come into play, some students lose over 2 months of math and reading knowledge during the summer. Fret not! Despite this, there are ways that parents can help keep their kids engaged in learning all summer long. Here is our guide to free (or nearly free) ideas and resources to help keep your little learners, elementary schoolers, and teenagers engaged in learning all summer long.

Our favorite ideas and resources to combat summer learning loss: Summer Learning Loss

Looking for pre-K resources for your little learner? offers free printable worksheets for students in pre-K all the way to 5th grade. They also offer resources for students and families from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Visit this site for a wealth of resources, tests, worksheets and articles.



Khan Academy Homepage- Summer Learning Loss BlogKhan Academy

One of the hardest subjects to keep up with during the summer can be math. Reading a book can be a treat at bedtime, but keeping up with fractions can be a bit trickier. The Khan Academy is a stellar resource. Their wealth of subject matter ranges from the basics to calculus, with everything in between. They also have coding resources for your the programmer-to-be in your family, as well as a variety of science and engineering resources. Is your teen getting ready to take those college entrance exams? The Khan Academy also offers test prep resources. Oh, and not to mention you can brush up on your macroeconomics and AP US history as well. This overall STEAM knowledge base should not be overlooked.

Postcard- Summer Learning Loss BlogWrite a Postcard

Travelling making it hard to budget studying time for your kids? On your travels have your kids pick out postcards that they would like to send to their friends and family and have them write their own letters. This is a great way to combat summer learning loss by practicing grammar, spelling, and punctuation on the go. It’s also a fun surprise for the recipients. Bring your child into the process by having them pick out the postcards they would like to send, then they will feel more connected and personally invested in the writing process. It’s a win-win for you and them!

Children's Books- Summer Learning LossGrab a book

Just about any will do! Head over to your nearest library, or maybe there is a homemade ‘little library‘ sitting on a corner in your neighborhood. Reading is one of the main subjects that summer learning loss is affected by. There are many reading lists out there:

Try this reading list from the Seattle Public Library for ages 3-5.

Or try this summer reading list from the Spokane Public Library (there is even one for adults too!).

Is your teen college bound? Here are NPR’s summer reading list suggestions.

No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars- Summer Learning Loss BlogCook with your kids

Speaking of fractions, what better way to get some hands on learning than to cook a meal with the kids. Cooking combines math and chemistry to create something special, and getting the kids involved can be a fun learning opportunity. Cooking can also give kids knowledge about healthy nutrition, and reading a recipe can help them work on their reading comprehension skills. PBS Parents offers some tips for getting your kids to join you in the kitchen, as well as recipes that kids are sure to love. We recommend checking out these No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares. Yum!

While you’re at it, why don’t you see if it’s possible to cook a s’more without fire or electricity?

duolingo homepage - summer learning lossDuolingo

Parlez-vous Français? Need to brush up on your German verb conjugations? Summer learning loss can affect students trying to learn a language if they don’t receive consistent practice. Duolingo is a comprehensive, free resource to help your student stay sharp in a variety of languages. They offer lessons in over 20 different languages, including Irish, Norwegian, and Swahili just to name a few. They have iOS and Android apps, so your kids can practice on the go. For the teachers out there, they also have classroom resources too.


HTML CodingCode Academy

Is your student interested in learning how to build websites, web applications, or ready to dive into more complex topics like database management? Code Academy is a great resource to learn responsive web design, HTML and CSS, or even Ruby on Rails. This free resource can help keep your kids and teens engaged in coding all summer long. All languages take consistent practice, including coding languages, and resources like Code Academy or the aforementioned Khan Academy can help prevent summer learning loss for students studying coding and computer programming.

Now get out there and learn!

There are opportunities for educational moments every day, and the internet is full of ideas a resources to help you along the way. Get the whole family involved in these fun math activities, enjoy a free children’s ebook, or make your own postcards to send to love ones. Fostering a spirit of discovery in your child’s life will help them continue to learn, grow, and be better students. Summer learning loss be banished! If you have any other ideas, or if you try out any of our suggestions, please tell us about it in the comments below. Happy summer!

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Schools, Achievement, and Inequality: A Seasonal Perspective

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Korsmo’s Weekly Roundup: All Hail the State Budget

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here!

Chris Korsmo

Chris Korsmo

No, you fickle weather babies, it’s not summer. Which arrives Wednesday of next week and leaves about September 3. It’s not the Sunday Amazon Prime cat food delivery, either. And while it might feel like it to legislators, it’s not Christmas in (almost) July. The “it” in question is the state budget. After a full regular session, three special sessions, a gang of eight, a four-corner agreement and a partridge in a pear tree, we have a proposed budget. With little time to review and a government shut- down looming, legislators will take up the $47B + measure later today. Winner? Well, McCleary, it’s your birthday, get your dance on, it’s your birthday. If you’re not doing the cabbage patch or sprinkler by now, you’re not feeling the gravity of the moment. Yes, the devil’s in the details – and those are several hundred pages long – the legislature is proposing a historic increase in education funding and dedicated funds toward historically underserved student populations – including a new funding stream for high poverty schools that guarantees targeted resources for academically struggling students in those schools.

The historic increases in education funding couldn’t come a moment too soon. Washington isn’t doing so well by its kids – the new Annie E. Casey Kids Count report is out and Washington ranks 14th in overall child well-being. This is a report that could have been written by Justice Bobbi Bridge, who in a recent LEVinar warned that we can pay now or pay later. We’ve advocated for paying it forward, with resources going to kids based on need.

It’s a great day to stream TVW  – today’s budget negotiations are must-see TV.

In other news:

Well kids, it’s about that time. July is upon us and the garden beckons. Have a wonderful summer! And as always, thanks for all you’re doing on behalf of Washington’s students.


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Students Must Be Ready for What Comes Next

Lisa Jiménez - League of Education VotersBy Lisabeth Jiménez
Guest Blogger

I am currently a sophomore at Columbia Basin College, where I major in political science with a minor in education. I attended two separate high schools before graduating in 2015: Delta High School, the first STEM high school in Washington, for 9th through 10th grade, and then I transferred to Pasco Senior High School to participate in Running Start, a program that allows students in the 11th and 12th grade to attend college courses to earn an Associate in Arts degree upon graduation from high school.

In high school I was a C/D average student. A few Bs made an appearance from time to time but not consistently, and it wasn’t from a lack of trying. My friends were A+ students, always making the honor roll, and they didn’t have to try. I would stay up till 4 o’clock in the morning, sometimes pulling all-nighters to finish assignments and group projects because of short deadlines and multiple assignments coming due at the same time. My friends’ teachers gave them small assignments and did not thoroughly check them to see if they were finished. Because of pre-conceived expectations, if their teachers saw writing on the papers turned in, they would give my friends an A for assignments because they were “completed.” My friends did not know how to find the slope of a y-intercept, learn the stages of mitosis, or master writing an analysis essay, but I did.

When it came to state testing, the teachers at Delta were committed to making sure we all passed because they wanted to see us walk across the graduation stage in the spring. I studied night and day for these exams, while some of my friends asked their parents to opt them out of the testing. I graduated with a 2.45 grade point average, passed all my state exams, and earned 24 high school credits and 33 college credits. My friends who did not take the tests graduated with a 4.0 average, 22 high school credits, and opted out of all the state exams because they simply did not want to take them. They had the opportunity to apply to any college they wished because of their grade point average, but my GPA did not provide the same opportunity.

They applied to universities and local colleges, and were accepted. The next step was to take their placement tests to determine which courses they would be eligible to take. Unfortunately, they received low test scores that placed them at the beginning of a long road of remedial college courses. How could a 4.0 student not be college ready? When I took my placement tests for Running Start, I placed right at the English 101/102 level and Math 99. I, a 2.45 GPA graduate and a C/D average student, was able to take college courses while still in high school.

Grades should not be the only thing to determine whether a student is college ready, because they are just a letter that some teachers give if the student behaves well.  State exams were not created only to burden students, as some tend to believe. The exams are there to ensure we are ready for the next step in our lives. After doing the required work in high school, I was able to pass all my state exams. I had to take a year off to work to save money for college, and I’m now more than halfway finished with my Bachelor’s degree.

Posted in: Closing the Gaps

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