Letter: David Dickinson, Leesburg

Editor: Del. Dave LaRock’s (R-33) introduction of the “Parental Choice Education Savings Account” bill is the most significant piece of educational legislation since desegregation. It begins to right longsuffering injustices and will demonstrate that the commonwealth is committed to the education of all children and not just some children.

The state mandates compulsory education. Further, it allows a parent to choose the type of school their child will attend: government, private, or home.  The multi-generational injustice has been the majority forcing its will on the minority and dictating that all parents must pay for government run schools first before paying for their own privately or home educated child.

Del. LaRock’s bill would allow parents to create an educational account for every student not in a government school.  The state would provide funds up to 90 percent of the value of the state’s contribution for similar students attending government run schools.

This is no small matter.  In Loudoun County alone, almost 10,000 students do not attend government-run schools.  At an average per pupil cost of about $15,000 per year, this cohort saves LCPS and the county $150M per year.  In return for this enormous annual savings, these parents watch almost 70 percent of their property taxes and a significant portion of their state income taxes go to schools they are not required to use and from which their children derive no benefit.

That injustice is about to end.  Parents will finally see their educational tax monies support their own children’s education and not their neighbors, and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s educational funds will finally become “public” for the first time in history.

David Dickinson, Leesburg

38 thoughts on “Letter: David Dickinson, Leesburg

  • 2016-02-19 at 1:46 am

    So which is it travelers? Is public education about the “social compact” or is it about the “social order?” Is it about educating our children, or is it about keeping the prison population low? Is it about de-educating our children in order to maintain the so-called “social order?”

    I know a few teachers in our LoCo system who would burn down anybody trying to ply those kind of philosophies.

  • 2016-02-18 at 6:40 pm

    At last, we have the motives of my good friend David D. Seeing that he may pay, oh, say, $3,000 in taxes a year to Loudoun County, he sees a way to make it pay to live in Loudoun County: Support a possible new state law that will write him out a check for $9,000 a year, times how many children he may have. What a Deal! I think we all should line up for some deal like that one. Thanks, David D, and those like you, who have shown us the way, to money, money, money in the bank. However, maybe, what we really should do, is try a bit of citizenship for a change, rather than angry feigned conservatism. What ever happened to the saying, All for One and One for All.

  • 2016-02-18 at 4:34 pm

    It’s interesting to see that many of the states that do offer a tax break or voucher do it only for low income families or families with children having disabilities.

    There are benefits to a voucher/school choice/education savings account system, but I continue to believe that all taxpayers should pay into the public education system. I think school choice could be a good thing and have no personal issue with private schools, home schooling, or unschooling, but I think that those choices should be made irrespective of the taxes paid into the public school system. That’s just my personal belief.


  • 2016-02-18 at 4:17 pm

    If Mr. Dickinson lived in Nevada, I don’t think he would qualify for their Education Savings Account system.

    “Students qualify if they attended a Nevada public school for at least 100 days immediately prior to establishing an ESA. Additionally, children of active duty military members and those under 7 years old qualify immediately.”


    “Parent Requirements:
    Must sign an agreement to ensure the student will receive instruction in Nevada from a private school, post-secondary educational institution, a distance learning program, a tutor or tutoring agency, or themselves (although homeschoolers are not eligible for the program)”


  • 2016-02-18 at 3:07 pm

    Lawgh, because I and the parents of the other 10,000 kids in Loudoun (and tens of thousands more across the state) are being forced to pay into the system. Therefore, if the system is giving a cash allotment to students (and it is), it should give the allotment to ALL students and not SOME students. If we are all paying into it, we should all get something out of it. I’d be more than happy (and, actually it is my preference) to have a property and income tax exemption. However, nobody is offering that up. This is the next best thing and I won’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  • 2016-02-18 at 1:57 pm

    Hypocrite: a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs. Gee, David D., I really think you should hit the pause button for a moment, and think about the possibility that you are trumpeting a socialists viewpoint in this. The Government hands out to those you want to help, amounts of money in the tens of thousands of dollars. Whatever happened to the conservative beliefs that I thought you believed in? Does all of that go out the window when a huge government handout comes along? Just ask’n.

  • 2016-02-18 at 1:32 pm

    “Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.”

    It’s not about the kids, but about the “social order?” “Social compacts,” and now “social order.” And here we’ve always been told it’s about the “the kids.” Sorta’ getting creepy around here.

  • 2016-02-18 at 11:14 am

    My, my, David D. Have to admit, your idea of math does not match most thinking people. It really is very simple. Loudoun County has a public school system. Many school buildings, with teachers and staff and students – why, we even have a thing called a Loudoun County School Board. And for that, a resident of Loudoun County, if they own property, for example a house or a car, will pay to the County of Loudoun money each year in taxes. I hope I am not losing you, David D. And for most residents of Loudoun County, that equates to about $3,000 a year. But let’s say, some might pay $4,000 a year. That’s it. No more. And what you want to see happen is for some of these residents, with school aged children, be given by the State $9,000 dollars, per year, per child. Let say there are three children in the family, David D. That makes it a yearly payment of $27,000. Easy math. So, tell me again why this legislation isn’t a rip-off.

  • 2016-02-18 at 10:40 am

    John Green, you are demonstrating Public School Privilege. You are conflating the SYSTEM with EDUCATION. Statistically, both private and home schools are superior to government schools. If you are most interested in the actual education of the child, then you should support this bill. The haters are the ones who are willing to promote the system at the expense of the child. That is unfortunate.

  • 2016-02-18 at 10:38 am

    Lawgh, I don’t know if you are being purposefully deceitful or just don’t understand this bill. I’ll explain in full.

    The bill would provide a mechanism by which parents of non-government school students (i.e. private and home school students) get 90% of the STATE contribution to local schools (i.e. 90% of 25%). Not 90% of the total funding.

    For LCPS, the annual total cost per pupil is about $15,000 (operational and debt payments). Of that $15k, the state contribution is about $3,800 per student per year. 90% of about $3,800 is about $3,500.

    Again, using your 3 student example, 3x$15,000=$45,000. It cost taxpayers $45k/year for those three kids to go to government school. Conversely, 3x$3,500=$10,500. It would cost taxpayers $10,500 for those three kids to not attend government school. A savings of just under $35k/year. Clearly, parents who send their kids to government schools are consuming a great deal more public fiscal resources than those that don’t.

  • 2016-02-18 at 7:52 am

    My thoughts on the subject are this and I believe that everyone should financially contribute to public education because everyone benefits from public education, even those who opt out:

    “Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.

    We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.

    So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.”

    ― John Green

  • 2016-02-17 at 6:51 pm

    There you go again, David D. “Paying dearly”? Really. As I have pointed out, for a parent in Loudoun County who pays at most, say $3,000 a year in taxes (that is total payment in taxes, David) you advocate that person be paid by the State the sum of $9,000.00 a year, per child. For a family with three children, that parent would pay $3,000 that year, and be paid by the State $27,000.00. Easy math, which just shows you how “paying dearly” has a whole new meaning to you. Let’s get real here. No. What you are doing is trying to engineer a form of socialism. Interesting, don’t you think, that you and Bernie Sanders have so much in common.

  • 2016-02-17 at 5:28 pm

    Mr. Dickinson! Have you been giving speeches to Goldman Sachs again?

  • 2016-02-17 at 5:14 pm

    Lawgh, you can join Craig in the remedial program. He for reading, and you for math.

    As discussed in my letter, I’m advocating for the 10,000 students whose parents are paying dearly into a system they don’t use. In Loudoun, we relieve the government of $150M PER YEAR and additionally put tens of millions of dollars into the system. In return for relieving a $15,000/student annual cost, we’d like the $3,500/student that this bill seeks (not the $9k you keep mentioning). That is more than fair.

    Again, SHOW YOUR MATH.

  • 2016-02-17 at 4:20 pm

    I agree. It is about the children and not all children learn the same way. I support school choice because it will strengthen our educational system. It’s about control for the left, but it should be about helping families provide the best education for their children.

  • 2016-02-17 at 3:42 pm

    Quite the comment section, now. But, we really are still where the whole thing started. There is David D, on one hand, trying to convince us that it is “fair” for someone who pays $3,000 a year in taxes here in Loudoun County, to be paid by the State $9,000 a year, per child that that taxpayer may have. What a program, eh! Rolling in the money is always a fun sport. But in this circumstance, hardly noble. So, let’s remember that when republicans, like David, come up with these math solutions that are so much in the favor of their pocket book, and so unfair to mine, watch out and grab your wallet so those kinds of republicans don’t make themselves wealthy at our expense.

  • 2016-02-17 at 2:13 pm

    Mr. Green; the author never said “10,000 home schooled” kids in Loudoun. Rather, he said 10,000 students do not attend government run schools. That’s a rather large “factual” difference. Regardless, one of your assertions caught my eye:

    “The alternative would be an expanding prison population, filled with people who are unable to function in a society to demands well-educated citizens capable of understanding facts, using logic, and communicating well.”

    As you well know, that bridge was crossed many years ago Mr. Green. Please tell us how the “social compact” you speak of failed to prevent the United States from having the largest incarceration rate in the world?

    I doubt you’ll find the Loudoun Times Mirror to be helpful, as the “facts” have often eluded them for the past 20 years.

    • 2016-02-17 at 5:47 pm

      LOL, as the youngsters say.

      I at least provided a source for my data — which no one else has to this point. If we can’t agree on the LTM, I suggest you provide an equally qualified source.

      As for prisons — my president has advocated we roll back the mandatory minimums that lead to our prison population. It could be a lot worse — look at how Australia was basically populated by England as a way to deal with their debtors — a class of people who failed to thrive in a rapidly changing Industrial economy.

      So if we’re now including private-education students in the mythical 10,000, then my response is, again, these people have made a choice to avoid the social compact. I don’t think taxpayers should reward them for that choice. It’s as if a person who commuted by helicopter felt they no longer should pay for roads. These systems only work at scale. My children have been out of the school system for 10 years now, and yet I pay my local share of the burden to put the next generation of children through school. As I said, it’s a lot cheaper and more productive than jailing them.

      Once again, I welcome ill-formed flames, poor logical assertions, and, by all mean, the obligatory ad-hominem attack.

      David D — yes, I ran for the Board of Supervisors. I felt that things needed changing, so I worked to be a part of the solution. I lost, and I learned a lot. I am very proud of the race I ran.

      Craig Green

  • 2016-02-17 at 1:53 pm

    Citizen A, your analogy isn’t correct. If the government required you to drive somewhere and, for instance, you took Rt 7 instead of the Greenway but then they charged you the Greenway toll whether or not you used it, that would be correct.

  • 2016-02-17 at 1:49 pm

    Now I’m scared. Craig Green, you are an elected official and ran (and lost) for Supervisor. Please take a reading class. I said, “..10,000 students do not attend government-run schools. ..” Nowhere did I say there are 10,000 Home School kids in Loudoun.

    10,000 is inclusive of Private School (8,000) and Home School (2,000). That is, the grand total of students that “do not attend government-run schools.”

    Thus, the basis of your post is completely inaccurate.

    Cheer up. If this bill passes, maybe we can get you some remedial reading with the funds.

  • 2016-02-17 at 1:15 pm

    I don’t drive on Route 9 so I shouldn’t have to pay for that road. I’d like a refund, please. And credit my account for the senior centers, too. That makes just as much sense.

  • 2016-02-17 at 11:48 am

    I read this letter, and the claim of 10,000 home-schooled kids caught my eye. If that’s true, then 1 in 8 kids in Loudoun are homeschooled. That’s a pretty big number. So I fact-checked it.

    The facts could not be further from the claims David’s making — statewide there are 32k homeschoolers, with 2,119 in Loudoun — see this article from 2013: http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/home_schooling_on_the_rise_in_virginia543

    So here’s the way I see it — a tiny minority of parents (2.5% of school kids) are creating a law to serve themselves. As others have pointed out, public school is part of the social compact that is good American government — we as citizens feel that the best result for a nation as a whole is for all our children to go to school. The alternative would be an expanding prison population, filled with people who are unable to function in a society to demands well-educated citizens capable of understanding facts, using logic, and communicating well.

    As a parent, you have the choice to exit that social compact. That’s one of the things that makes America great. What you don’t get, however, is the option to then have the other 97.5% of taxpayers pay you for your choice to leave society.

    I can’t even think of a metaphor that brings this down to daily life. It’s too absurd. So flame away, Mr. Dickinson, and continue to prove yourself a self-righteous taker from the rest of us law-abiding, social-compact agreeing, taxpayers.

    Craig Green

  • 2016-02-16 at 4:09 pm

    Why don’t you answer the question Lawgh? Why is it you have no problem with the government spending $15,000/year per student, but then you will begrudge the government paying $3,500/year per student from parents who are contributing the same amounts in taxes?

    There is no rational explanation other than you are a government school bigot.

    Prove me wrong.

  • 2016-02-16 at 1:44 am

    So, David, hate to say it, but I guess you unashamedly will continue to advocate that we, the tax payers, seeing inequity, should just take it, and be quiet. Interesting. Well, I for one, do not see it that way, and I am thinking, that calmer heads will prevail in Richmond, and your hoped for legislation will go no where, as it should. And I certainly hope that those who would think like you do, do not ever see themselves in the seat of a legislative body, except for the few irrationals like Mr. LaRock, who, because he goes way too far in his extremism, will undoubtedly be stopped time and again.

  • 2016-02-15 at 11:41 am

    “why it is fair, and honest, for someone paying, say, $3,000 in taxes per year, to be handed $9,000 in cash? Still waiting for your response to that one.”

    You already got it. Let us level-set for a moment. What LaRock has proposed will roughly equal $3,500/year per student. Are you telling me you have a problem with the $3,500/year but you have no problem with the government paying $15,000/year for the kid to go to the government school? Explain your logic.

    If this bill becomes law and motivates parents to take their kids out of government schools, then taxpayers will save $15,000-$3,500=$11,500/year per child. I’m sure the control freaks in government schools who think they know better than parents will absolutely hate that. The thought of a kid leaving the plantation will make the practically apoplectic. But it is a win-win. Parents gets their tax monies back and governments are relieved of 80% of the costs of educating a child.

    Did you just see the local private school kid that got a perfect score on his AP Calc? One of 12 or so in the world. I’m sure his parents wouldn’t mind some of their tax money back to pay for the outstanding education he is getting.

  • 2016-02-13 at 5:10 pm

    Gee, I guess childishness just found a new name, eh, David. But, aside from you lack of interest in more intelligent responses, maybe you can again revisit your fuzzy math problem, about why it is fair, and honest, for someone paying, say, $3,000 in taxes per year, to be handed $9,000 in cash? Still waiting for your response to that one.

  • 2016-02-13 at 3:44 pm

    @rdj. First, you posts are too long. Regardless, here is a rebuttal:
    1. “assumes that our public schools are funded to the levels required to service all eligible, school-age children…” A moot point. Regarding government school funding, my issue is that they are taking funds that should be given to private/home schools.
    2. “Your assertion that parents cannot “opt out” of paying anything for anyone’s education in the public schools may be true, but the law doesn’t allow that…” Yep. And that is what this bill is going to change. It won’t allow you to “opt-out” of payment, but it will send money back to you.
    3. “The reality is that when parents decide not to send their children to public schools, then their tax burden – along with everyone else’s – to fund the public schools goes down.” Yeah, their “tax burden” goes down but what the parents pay for education goes way up. In reality, if you pull your kid out of LCPS, your tax burden will go down literally 5 cents. And then you have to pay $12,000/year for private school.
    4. Regarding the pool of money (i.e. $200M/$250M example) what should happen is that the state says we are going to annually fund $XXX,XXX,XXX for schools. That number is divided by ALL the school age kids and each kid gets their portion regardless of the kind of school they attend. Right now, they take that number and divide it by all the GOVERNMENT school kids and cut out the private/home school students (but they happily put their parent’s money into that pool).
    5. “you would be pulling money that had already been determined necessary to provide services to that 80%” Yes. I hope that is what happens.
    6. “It doesn’t matter that you’re incorrect on all of these counts: you are outnumbered…” Thank you for further demonstrating Public School Privilege. To quote my own letter, “The multi-generational injustice has been the majority forcing its will on the minority ….”
    7. “but staging end-runs around it like this…” Looks more like a frontal assault to me.
    8. “We are a country not of privilege but of equal opportunity.” Unless we are talking about giving each student in the state an equal portion, then you have to rant here about protecting the system instead of furthering the education of the individual child. Equality is a 1-way street in Liberal-land.

  • 2016-02-13 at 3:20 pm

    @Lawgh. I love your gross demonstration of public school privilege and how you put it on display for all to see, “You did not address why someone who may pay $3,000 in taxes to the County per year, should get back $9,000 a year because that person claims that there is a “public school privilege.” Robbing the bank is not a virtue. ”

    I understand that it is very difficult for the government schoolers like yourself to see how myopic their opinions are but, riddle me this Batman: Why should someone who may pay $3,000 in taxes to the County per year, should get back $45,000 a year (that is how much those same three kids cost the government in public school)? Robbing the bank is not a virtue.


  • 2016-02-13 at 2:26 pm

    “government school,” “government-run school”

    Huh? That sounds like an insincere slur and a post-modern redefinition.

    Most people call them public schools because they are for the public, meaning *all* of the public.

    I guess this is what “taking the country back” means, defunding the commons, and public institutions, and redistributing that value to the private and the privileged.

  • 2016-02-13 at 11:37 am

    @Lawgh, “in general disappear into the basement.” Your parents said that you take up too much room as it is and there is no room for me.

  • 2016-02-12 at 5:11 pm

    Your reasoning, Mr. Dickinson, like the proposed legislation, is fallacious. “…Forced to pay for a system that they can’t opt-out of paying for…” assumes that our public schools are funded to the levels required to service all eligible, school-age children within the jurisdiction – whether their parents send them there or not. That’s not what happens, and you know it.

    The school budget is based on legally-mandated services scaled for an estimated number of enrollees for the coming school year, a number that is calibrated against actual enrollment as measured precisely at the end of September each year. If parents “opt out” of sending their children to the public schools and instead choose either private schooling or homeschooling as required by law, then the school system’s budget is not as high as it would need to be if they had chosen otherwise.

    For example, if the school budget is $1B for 80% of the eligible children in the district, because that’s how many children are enrolled for that year, then increasing the enrollment by the remaining 20% would require increasing the budget. There’s no getting around that. Your assertion that parents cannot “opt out” of paying anything for anyone’s education in the public schools may be true, but the law doesn’t allow that, and it’s also true that the public schools cannot “opt out” of providing mandated services to all the students who show up at their schools.

    The reality is that when parents decide not to send their children to public schools, then their tax burden – along with everyone else’s – to fund the public schools goes down.

    I’m sure taxes wouldn’t go down as much as you would like, because again, the reasoning necessary to support these thinly-veiled vouchers would demand one of two things: either the school budget would have to be reduced by 20% with that $200M turned over to those parents as “vouchers” to pay for private schooling, or if those parents did enroll their children in the public schools, the budget should not be allowed to increase by any more than $250M.

    (I expect you would claim that increase should be at most $200M, because that’s how your “special math” seems to work. But that would be dead wrong: if your budget is $1B for 800 students, and you then add 200 students, $1.2B would be a 20% increase to cover 25% more kids. You would need a 25% increase, or $250M, to cover those additional 200 students.)

    Neither scenario, using defensible math or not, makes reasonable sense. With the reduction, you would be pulling money that had already been determined necessary to provide services to that 80% – and that describes the actual, real-world effect of the proposed legislation. With the increase, you would fail to account for the expansion of the system (“overhead”) necessary to accommodate those additional enrollees at the same level of service quality.

    You can rant and fume as much as you like that you don’t believe the schools are worth the money, or that their justifications for their budgets hold water, or the schools are ineffective, or that people without kids of their own shouldn’t have to pay for anyone else’s education. You can pretend that imposing a reduced budget would do nothing worse than ferreting out inefficiencies and waste.

    It doesn’t matter that you’re incorrect on all of these counts: you are outnumbered in a society of people who can, fortunately, think clearly enough to see through the charade. The law requires children to attend school. State and federal law impose specific requirements that public schools be organized in certain ways; provide education about certain things; provide a wide range of mandated, otherwise unfunded services that extend far beyond direct instruction. Most significantly, the law requires public schools to accept all qualified enrollees – regardless of how cost-effective it may be to do that. Private schools don’t: they can choose students who are easier to educate, require fewer expensive services, and have parents who are more engaged and have more resources.

    The law is not perfect in the public school systems it has built, but staging end-runs around it like this and other proposed legislature seek to accomplish is unwise and foolish. If it is to be changed, then that should be done carefully and thoughtfully, by questioning its foundations rather than indulging in political tricks like these to undermine it. The effects of changes on the real lives of students and educators should be understood rather than resorting to platitudes that betray ignorance.

    For now, the law is what stands between people like you and the fulfilment of our posterity. The real trouble we have is that people like LaRock and Black inhabit our legislature, staging acts that feign compassion, care, productivity, and logic but in truth have exactly the opposite effect. They use the knobs and levers with which they have been entrusted to drain our society of its strengths and dilute its value into more selfish, less noble, and ultimately foolish ends that benefit only those whom they choose. We are a country not of privilege but of equal opportunity.

  • 2016-02-12 at 5:07 pm

    Now, David, Really? Your two most recent posts are truly astounding. Doubling down is not a virtue. You did not address why someone who may pay $3,000 in taxes to the County per year, should get back $9,000 a year because that person claims that there is a “public school privilege.” Robbing the bank is not a virtue. Nor is it a virtue to argue that one can object to this or that government service, and the pay nothing in taxes, because they are somehow able to define that service as “of no importance” to the complainer. Why not just admit that your argument is, I don’t like government, and so I do not want to pay a stinking dime to the government, and then stay in your home, do not drive on our streets, do not call for police or fire protection if in need, do not turn on the water facet, and in general disappear into the basement.

  • 2016-02-12 at 3:05 pm

    “…the most significant piece of educational legislation since desegregation.”

    OK, Satchmo. What educational legislation in the past 50 years do you think is more significant?

    Lawgh, “anything that would harm the public school system” I talked to Dave L. about this bill briefly. What is the difference with this year’s attempt? Representatives of urban blacks are sick of failing schools and want other options. They’ve thrown in the towel waiting for the government schools to change. Locally, the government school system isn’t bad. Across the state, you have some really terrible districts. You have to get past your “Public School Privilege” to see that government schools aren’t as good and deserving as you think they are.

  • 2016-02-12 at 1:00 pm

    The bottom line is that there are 10,000 kids in Loudoun whose parents are forced to pay for a system that they can’t opt-out of paying for. It’s just flat out wrong. Personally, I’d prefer a tax exemption proportional to what goes towards education (and then I can do whatever I like with the funds) but the Education Savings Account is just fine too. And since nobody is pushing for the former, I’ll take that latter. What this does to the government schools is of no importance. They have been pilfering from the private/home school community for far too long.

  • 2016-02-12 at 11:56 am

    “…the most significant piece of educational legislation since desegregation.” ?? Politically motivated hyperbole feigned my interest. Albeit an insightful introduction to the attempted theocratic concept discussed. Doesn’t help that the outlier LaRock dreamed it up.

  • 2016-02-12 at 10:31 am

    David, while I support the concept of vouchers in general, the effect of only refunding the state funding for education is that schools will segregate. The disadvantaged kids’ parents can’t afford the additional $8-10K/year it takes to attend private schools. With the state subsidy, more affluent parents will opt for private school. This will just lead to segregation.

    While I would support a 100% refund bill similar to how charters in some states are entitled, the current bill is just a subsidy to private school parents.

  • 2016-02-11 at 4:15 pm

    Of course, the legislation stinks. And, of course, some will support anything that would harm the public school system. And, of course, hanging out there in the dark are undoubtedly all kinds of “schools” waiting to grab that public money, with now demonstrated ability to actually teach students. The amazing thing is that some don’t seem to care what kind of education a child receives. It really seems all about not wanting to pay taxes for government services. After all, how many people in Loudoun County pay over $9,000 a year in taxes to the County; yet some seem to advocate that they get back way more than they are paying in taxes. Nice, if you can get away with it, and don’t mind looking dishonest.

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