No place for a Nazi sign in our community at Columbia, Maryland

No place for a Nazi sign in our community at Columbia, Maryland

By Dr. Chao Wu, Clarksville, MD

November 29, 2016

(I sent this article to Columbia Flier and Baltimore Sun and did not get any response. So I am publishing it here first.)

I was shocked to see a swastika painted at my neighborhood playground over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many residents, including myself, take our kids there to play, socialize and enjoy this beautiful neighborhood. None of us expected this type of vandalism, with its links to Nazism, fascism, and racism, to happen in the community.

Our city of Columbia prides itself in honoring diversity and being civic-minded. I understand the 2016 presidential election was very divisive. In many other places, campaign signs were destroyed, houses were vandalized, and contentious words were exchanged. However, a swastika sign in the neighborhood is still a huge shock to the many people who live here.

Since its inception in the 1960’s, Columbia has been a driving force for promoting mutual respect and building community harmony. The two most recent speakers in Columbia Association’s Community Building Speakers Series, Rob Breymaier, Executive Director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, and Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, UMBC President, discussed Columbia’s founding principles of diversity and inclusiveness. This Saturday, December 3, 2016, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bain 50+ Center in Columbia, County Executive Allan Kittleman will hold the first forum in his #OneHoward Initiative, which is designed to promote community dialogue and reinforce the county’s shared goals of diversity and inclusiveness.

Our community is now at a turning point with more changes to come. Following the County Council’s passage of the Downtown-related legislation several weeks ago, Columbia’s population is expected to increase by additional 20,000 residents. We can expect the area to become more diverse than ever – culturally, racially, educationally, and economically.

From my perspective, respecting and celebrating diversity needs to be practiced. What really matters is how we view ourselves and others with respect, how others view themselves and others with respect, and whether we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We need a common sense solution to create a shared future that is inclusive of everyone. This work needs to occur within our family, within our schools, at the workplace, and in our neighborhoods.

We also need a continuous, open and honest discussion on diversity and inclusion such that all groups should be heard with humility. The conversation should happen not only among people who are likely-minded, already vocal and visible in the community, but also from those who are usually left out by the main media. This requires extra effort to reach out. It also requires a heart with true tolerance especially when other opinions may be quite different, even offensive.

Diverse thoughts, mutual understanding, and truth-seeking are the keys to finding such a solution. There should never be a place for a Nazi swastika in our community. We are not afraid by its occurrence, but we need to be vigilant and continue working to achieve a safe and peaceful community.


Columbia-China Sister City Update meeting on Sunday, 2016-12-04

Dear all,

Mr. Hui Dong, the vice president of the China Sister City Planning Committee (CSCPC) of Columbia, Howard County, went to Liyang, China recently. He reported the progress of the sister city program to Liyang officers, and brought some projects back.  We would like to meet with you all to discuss these projects and see how they can align with CA’s needs.

We are calling this meeting to discuss the following items:

Updates of sister city program.

  1. Co-opt Ms. Jing Xu to CSCPC as vice president.
  2. Cooperation projects – we need your opinions, ideas and connections.
    1. Medical/adult’s care/cancer treatment/therapy center in Liyang
    2. International school in Liyang
  3. Any projects do you have? Are you looking for investment and supports? We can help.

Date:        Sunday, Dec. 4th, 2016

Time:        1:00pm – 2:00pm

Location:   Room N220, Howard County Chinese School at Howard County Community College

Address:   10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044

Refreshments will be served.

Thank you for your time and see you soon!

China Sister City Planning Committee (CSCPC)




  1. 友好城市项目的进展
  2. 增选徐菁女士为CSCPC的副主席
  3. 两个需要讨论的项目
    1. 将在溧阳建设的大型医疗/成人护理/癌症康复治疗/疗养中心
    2. 将在溧阳建设国际学校
  4. 您有任何项目,需要资金和支持,我们可以帮助


时间:: 1:00pm – 2:00pm


地址:: 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044





Start School Late first forum tonight

took my three years old to Marriots Ridge School and joined the Start School Late forum. Please see the votes on the wall. I really wish they present a model such that all schools start after 8:30. Then all sides will be satisfied. Glad to see Robert Miller and Christina Delmont-Small there too. “Keeping current model” gets most votes. Around 100 parents joined it.

I always advocate for later High School Start Time. Whenever I meet a school staff or BOE board members, I talk about this. However, the current four models have the problem: let the most vulnerable kids’ parent fighting with other vulnerable kid’s parents.

  1. How about have a baseline for any future models No school start before 8:30?
  2. How about just moving high school late by not touching elementary school student?
  3. How about HCPSS building up and running their own school bus? For example, starting 10 buses per year, in 10 years, we will have a fleet.  We just need this kind of long term vision to tackle this issue.

Columbia is 50, buy a brick to celebrate

Details can be found at

  • The cost for bricks that will be placed in the Columbia Maryland 50 section are $100 per brick.
  • The cost for bricks placed in other areas of the walkway are $75 per brick.
  • Limit three lines of text. There is a 15-character limit per line of text. Spaces between words count as a character.
  • The cutoff for purchasing bricks that will be placed in the walkway the summer of 2017 is February 24, 2017. No purchases will be accepted after that date.
  • If you purchase multiple bricks, we cannot guarantee that they will be placed next to each other.


Update on World/Chinese language online teaching at RHHS 2016-11-10

Update on the World/Chinese Language Online Teaching at RHHS Thursday, 2016-11-10. I was not able to attend this meeting because of another CA board meeting scheduled at the same time. A parent who attended this meeting shared this meeting summary with me.

Meeting minute of Chinese/World Language Teaching

LocationRiver Hill High School Media Center

TimeNovember 10th, 2016, 7:30pm


  • 10 parents,
  • River Hill High School Principal Kathryn McKinley.
  • HCPSS central office Gina Massella, Administrative Director of High Schools, Robert Cole, Coordinator of Digital Education, Leslie Grahn, Coordinator of World Languages
  • 2 IT technical staff supporting the online learning system


  • Digital education staff did a brief demonstration on how the online system actually looks like to the students, and what students can do through the system, such as recording the teaching session, access to audio and video resources, raise questions to interact with the online teacher.

Q&A session

(I am going to aggregate some of the questions from different parents together based on their similarities on the main topic)

 Q1: Why the Chinese  Language Class was moved to online? It does not seem to be the best way to learn a foreign language, students need immersion. Is it a budget issue?

 A1: This is not a budget issue. It is majorly because of the low enrollment. Class with enrollment under 15 will face either being canceled completely or being move to online. We, in RHHS, can not reach that enrollment criterion even after combining different levels of Chinese classes. This is not a question in debate, you have the choice either go online , or completely lose it.

Q2: Father of a student who works on College Park campus raised the concern that there is never going to be any face to face interaction between the student and the teacher through the entire time of the course. From his personal experience with College Park, online teaching always offers some kind of opportunity for the teacher to physically meet his students, either by a few face  to face sessions at the beginning of the semester followed by online learning, or regular on-site Q & A sessions.

A2: No, there will not be any chance that the students can physically meet the teacher, but students can always ask questions during the online teaching, and email the teacher after the class. Parents can also schedule their annual parents teacher conference to meet the teacher personally.

Q3. More than one parents raised the concern that without the teacher onsite, their students will have less chance getting their pronunciation corrected, writing in a proper way, and will not have enough immersion to learn the language in the right way. Does the school district has data to backup the effectiveness of changing the language class from face to face to online?

A3: The online class are supposed to provide the same level of instruction to the online students ,comparing to the students actually sitting in the classroom. They should get the same attention, and knowledge. Chinese is not the only online course. Students have been taking online courses for other AP subjects all over the county, and that is the direction to go, especially when there is a limited enrollment. (No one from the school or district provided any actual data to back up the claim

Q4: Is there any other support to make sure remote learning students are actually doing what they suppose to do on the computer during class time? Is there any chance for students to interact with native speakers?

A4: Support comes from 3 sources – online teacher,classroom assistant, native speaker visiting campus. Online teacher will be the sole source of academic teaching. Classroom assistant will be in the classroom to make sure the students are actually doing what they supposed to do, and help solving some technical issues, if there is any. But classroom assistant are not trained to answer questions about the subject. All questions should be direct to the teacher. Native speaker will be on campus twice a week Thursday & Friday during lunch time. Students can always take advantage of the opportunity.

Q5: Is there any possibility for the students to meet the teacher in person. Either transport the students or the teacher, may be just once a quarter?

A5: No. Transporting the students involves a lot of coordination, time and liability. The school district  is not ready to do that. And every teacher is under the same contract with the district. Currently the general contract limits the teacher to commute and teach up to 2 schools. We need to take into consideration of their break time, lunch time, commute time etc. We just can not do that.

Q6: My daughter has problem with her homework, but can not get help from the teacher. During the class, she felt it was hard to find an opportunity to ask questions, because the teacher was always helping others.

A6: The students should definitely reach out directly to the teacher.We can try to talk to the teacher, make sure students’ questions get answered promptly. As to ask question during the class, even in a face to face environment, you always have to wait for others to finish in order to ask your own question.

Q7: Without face to face, how can a teacher know the student is writing the Chinese characters strokes in the right order?

A7: We have a place in the online system showing the order of strokes for the Chinese character students are learning. You can always use that as assistance.

Q8: Multiple students told their parents when they got into the online classroom, they usually find other students already started.

A8: Students from different schools should have the same class start time.  We do not know why this happened, but we can check with the teacher.

Q9: My student want to quit after the first class, because the online system seems hard to use. Sometimes, it has technical problems.  Is there a better online conference system you can consider? (from another parent)

A9: Again, we encourage students to keep trying and getting used to the system.We are on your side to address any technique issues as soon as it occurs. We chose the system, because we think it will work the best. So far, we have 8 school using the online system for different courses. If there is a strong reason the current system does not meet the students’ need, we definitely can consider alternatives.

My article on HoCo election with over 3000 readers

I looked at my web stats. One article talking about 2016 Howard County Charter Amendments got over 3000 reader. It is amazing. I was trying to figure it out why. Partially there were not so many other articles talking about these two important ballot initiatives. If you searched online, my article came first.

For Question A, I am for it. There were 74382 Yes and 67408 No. The difference is 6974 votes, around 5% of total votes.

For Question B, I am against it. There were 83992 Yes and 50306 No. The difference is 33686 votes, around 25% of total votes.

The really surprising facts now are the early voting, which is almost close to 50% now.

Question A Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
For Question A 30,559 39,695 4,128 74,382 52.5%
Against Question A 22,699 41,763 2,946 67,408 47.5%
Question B Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
For Question B 33,272 46,397 4,323 83,992 62.5%
Against Question B 17,211 30,753 2,342 50,306 37.5%

Four proposed new school starting time for HCPSS

If you have concerns, please send email to I am sure you will find the new proposals are really troubling. For elementary schools kids, they probably need get up at 6:30AM/6:00AM.  I know it will offend some people, but I still want to say the proposals lack common sense. Many parents (including myself) want to have a later high school time. Whenever I have a chance to meet BOE board members, I talked about a later high school start time.

OK, the thought is now:  let’s flip the coin and switch elementary school and high school. Just think about little ones walking and waiting for the bus in the dark. There should be better ways to get high school later by not sacrificing our little kids.

I will need some time to analyze those earlier reports again and understand how this comes out and provide my own analysis including school bus cost.  If you have good ideas, please share it here or email me at I will put them together and send the feedback to BOE. I won’t believe the BOE will approve this new schedule in Feb. 2017.





The original document is here: 11-17-2016-school-start-and-dismissal-time-br

There is a survey conducted by the HCPSS at : School Start and Dismissal Time – Community Feedback Form

Public hearing will be held soon: