Listen now (18 mins) | In Free State Politics episode 8, public education takes center stage as John Rydell speaks to the president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County. Cindy Sexton says the vast majority of students will finally return to in-person learning five days a week. But she adds there is currently not a vaccine mandate. “We hope that people get vaccinated. We know that’s one of the ways to get on the other side of this pandemic,” said Sexton. The return to mask mandates continues to divide parents and students around the country. But Sexton says there will be a mask mandate in Baltimore County Public Schools. Rydell also examines the plight of a Baltimore County businessman who obtained a patent to streamline the process of refinancing mortgages only to have the Supreme Court declare his patent null and void. Larry Porter said, “I borrowed a half-million dollars to develop the technology.” He’s since spent tens of thousands of dollars in a lengthy legal battle with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Porter adds that Congress also plans to examine the complex issue of patent laws. In his closing thoughts, Rydell reflects on the joyous return of the Maryland State Fair and county fairs after last year’s shutdown due to COVID-19.