Baltimore to Steal Public Schools Chief from Milwaukee

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Photo by Mark Hoffman, via Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Greg Thornton. Photo by Mark Hoffman, via Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Baltimore City Public Schools’ search for a new CEO ends today with their decision to hire Greg Thornton, the current superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, according to WBAL’s sources.

On the face of it, Thornton is well equipped to take over the position. Milwaukee’s school district is about the same size as Baltimore’s, with 78,000 students (to our 84,000 students) and a budget of a little over $1 billion (same here). Not only that, but Thornton oversaw enactment of a “major school facility plan” in Milwaukee, something we’re staring down the $1-billion barrel of, ourselves!

A Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article — written after he took over managment of Milwaukee Public Schools in 2010 — describes Thornton as “an optimistic sort who exudes energy and enthusiasm.” A WTMJ article from eight months later details his “losing battle” with “a micromanaging, fickle school board” that was preventing him from making changes necessary to raise up Milwaukee’s underperforming district.

Just yesterday, the Journal-Sentinel — in relating the news that he would likely be heading to Baltimore — praised the superintendent for “reformulat[ing] the instruction of literacy, math and science” as well as making “significant changes to the structure of employee benefits that righted some of the district’s financial woes.” At the same time, the paper acknowledged that his tenure saw “mass retirements of teachers and administrators” — due to Wisconsin’s lawmakers weakening the teachers union — and that his proposals were often met with resistance by teachers and the school board.

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