September 8 // Leana Wen: an immigrant's story

In December of 1990, just before my eighth birthday, I left China for the United States. My father was a political dissident, and after he was released from prison, we joined my mother in a little town in the mountains of Utah. It was quite a change from my hometown of Shanghai, a city of 25 million people. Like millions of other immigrants, my parents did everything they could to make a new life for us, saving every penny and working multiple jobs. My mother cleaned hotel rooms and worked in a video store. My father delivered newspapers and washed dishes in restaurants. It was a different life than the one I knew. (Balt. Sun)

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School officials should decide how long summer vacation is — not Larry Hogan

The fiscal impact of Gov. Larry Hogan’s mandate to open Maryland public schools after Labor Day won’t be known until the end of September, when sales-tax receipts are tallied. Even if — as the Republican governor hoped — there was a boon to Ocean City and other tourist areas in Maryland, the question that must be addressed is “At what cost?” Extending the summer caused child-care headaches for many parents, disrupted the operations of local school districts and may well have exacerbated the summer learning loss that is particularly pernicious for low-income students. Maryland should let local officials open schools based on what best serves the needs of their students rather than the dictates of select businesses. (Wash. Post)

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Why not sell beer in Md. grocery stores?

The scene at Comptroller Peter Franchot’s task force on Maryland beer laws this week was disappointing but not surprising. The question of the day was whether beer sales should be allowed in grocery stores, and the discussion was dominated by opponents of the idea. Retailers, who are delighted to maintain their state-sanctioned protections from competition, packed the room and spoke with a unified voice against it. Craft brewers, bloodied after a tussle with the entrenched powers-that-be in Maryland’s alcohol industry during this year’s legislative session, see no point in taking on the fight. (Balt. Sun)

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Jay Steinmetz: Landing a Fortune 500 company in Baltimore

Pardon the sports analogies, but football season is upon us, and now is the time to orchestrate a game plan for a key Baltimore economic victory. Compiled by Fortune magazine, the “Fortune 500” is the definitive list of America’s top revenue generating companies. Baltimore is the nation’s largest city without one; a decisive win would be to land a Fortune 500 corporate headquarters the next time one moves. It won’t be easy. The challenges of Maryland’s largest city are widely known: violent protests surrounding the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, record-high murder rates in subsequent years, a shrinking tax base, urban blight and under-performing public schools, to name a few. (Balt. Sun)

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Mary Hui: What city bus systems can tell us about race, poverty and us

Standing on the sidewalk with her back to the traffic, Shan Wallace took a step backward, off the curb and onto the road, her black Sony A7 camera swinging from her shoulder. She leaned back and gazed down the broad avenue, into the distance. Where was the bus? When was it going to come? The traffic continued to roar by, but the bus was nowhere to be seen. At the bus stop with her were some 15 other people, and together they waited for the bus that would take them down North Avenue, toward the city’s west side. For many in Baltimore, buses are woven deep into daily life. And they also tell an important story about the city and its history, rooted in racial and economic divides that have shaped the course of its development over the decades. (Wash. Post)

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Len Lazarick: Howard County’s interim superintendent puts mark on school system

There’s a reason the local school superintendent is the highest paid local official in Maryland’s counties. It’s the toughest job in the county, heading the institutions where taxpayers spend the most money and that touch the most lives. The fierce competition for the top talent also drives up the salaries, and the average superintendent of large urban and suburban school system lasts only about four years in the job. Howard County’s Michael Martirano has only been hired as interim superintendent for this school year. He’s clearly acting like he plans to stay much longer, and he hopes as much. (Md. Reporter)

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Opportunities and challenges await as schools open

The dawn of a new school year always carries an air of excitement – and plenty of butterflies – before students, parents, teachers and staff settle in to a routine. This year also features a significant change in the top leadership of Howard’s system, one that for years has been able to boast of high-achieving students, engaged parents, talented instructors and a generous financial commitment from county and state taxpayers. The interim superintendent, Michael Martirano, has been overhauling the organizational structure following the abrupt departure of Renee Foose, whose polarizing leadership in her waning months as superintendent distracted attention from the strengths of the schools as well as the challenges it faces. (Ho. Co. Times)

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C. Fraser Smith: Learning from our history

Twenty three years ago, in a less incendiary time, clever leaders in Maryland found an elegant solution to the issue of racism-tinged statuary. Their success may have been more of a one-off than a model for dealing with this vexing issue. (Daily Record)

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