Listen now (24 mins) | Free State Politics podcast episode 4 examines the lingering struggles facing Maryland public schools as they attempt the transition back to in-person learning this fall. John Rydell speaks with State School Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon about the challenges faced with suddenly shutting down schools and quickly pivoting to virtual and hybrid learning. Dr. Salmon had planned to retire last year but as the Covid crisis escalated, Governor Larry Hogan convinced her to stay on for another year. Salmon, who is retiring this summer, says, “We had never been forced to do this kind of instruction before. We kept thinking the science would change to get back to school, and unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We ultimately had to make sure we had the health and safety of our students and our educators come first.” Rydell also speaks with Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, to get her perspective on the tumultuous time for students and teachers over the past 16 months. When asked whether everything will be back to normal for the upcoming school year, Bost replied, “We really don’t know what normal will be.” Bost says she is still worried about what she calls a growing achievement gap over the past year between students from low-income backgrounds and students from wealthier jurisdictions. Rydell also profiles a well-known perennial candidate who has run for virtually every office in Maryland and is now considering a run for Governor.