Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Why Did Thornton Leave?

The loss of MPS superintendent raises troubling questions about public education in Milwaukee.

By - Feb 20th, 2014 12:00 pm
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Gregory Thornton and students.

Gregory Thornton and students.

How much will Gregory Thornton be missed?

A while ago I had an off-the-record conversation with a well-connected Milwaukee Public Schools official who worked under nine different superintendents and ranked Thornton as the best.

Thornton, the source said, was by far the most conversant with the national education scene and trends in the field. “The vision of the district has gotten much more cosmopolitan under him. He’s better able to get outside funding. And he’s very hard driving. He can be hard to work for because he has very high expectations. And he gets into schools and classrooms to an extraordinary degree, he knows a lot about what is happening in the schools.”

As I’ve previously written, Thornton initiated a long list of positive changes for the district. So yes, it’s a big loss for Milwaukee.

And it prompts the obvious question? Why did he leave Milwaukee for a city, Baltimore, with about the same size school system and budget and a similar salary?

Thornton told the Baltimore media he wanted the opportunity to work in a city close to his childhood home of Philadelphia. Thornton got his bachelors in Temple University in Philly, his masters from Salisbury University in Maryland, was superintendent of the Chester Upland School District in Chester, Pa, a chief academic officer in Philadelphia and held a top school leadership jobs in Maryland. Before coming to Milwaukee, he had unsuccessfully applied for Baltimore superintendent job.

“This is coming home,” he said in Baltimore. “I get to come home and finish a dream.”

Thornton rented an apartment in Milwaukee and still owns a home in Pennsylvania.  He had to be sold on taking the Milwaukee job. “He was reluctant to come in the first place,” says school board member Terry Falk.

It is not all that unusual for superintendents to serve as short a term as Thornton’s. Nationally the average tenure is 3.6 years, about what Thornton will serve and up from a decade ago when the average was a dismal 2.3 years.

But longtime reporter Alan Borsuk, a senior fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School, who still writes a weekly column on education for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, told WUWM-FM he believes Thornton was not happy in Milwaukee. ”He was frustrated by the board; he was frustrated by the general inertia of change in Milwaukee, that things he wanted to get done couldn’t get done,” Borsuk says. “He just saw more frustration ahead on that score.”

Curiously, little of that was ever reported in one of Borsuk’s columns. (You buried that lead, Alan.) But given his very measured carefulness as a writer, I’m sure Borsuk’s accurately describing what came through in interviews with Thornton.

Whatever the superintendent’s reasons for leaving, there are factors at work in Milwaukee that make it harder to do the job, and may make it more difficult to recruit his replacement.

In Milwaukee, the superintendent serves nine masters, the members of the Milwaukee School Board. Granted, they’ve been pretty unified in their approach to Thornton, but the board’s history has been that of an often divided, fractious body. In cities like New York, Chicago and Washington DC, the mayor appoints the school board, so the superintendent really has one ultimate boss and less dissension over policy decisions.

In Baltimore the school board is jointly appointed by the mayor of Baltimore and the governor of Maryland. That could be tricky if they are from different political parties (they aren’t) but quite helpful when it comes to getting state funding for the schools. By contrast, Wisconsin now has a Republican majority that is putting all its emphasis on replacing public schools with choice and charter schools. That’s another huge negative for any aspiring superintendent.

Another problem in Milwaukee is a lack of business support for the public schools. Since the early 1990s, when there was an organized effort by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce to support MPS, business leaders began to gravitate away from the public schools, throwing their support to choice schools. Businesses need skilled graduates for their future workforce, so they have built-in reasons to support the schools, but Milwaukee provides a plentitude of horses to back. Thornton had some success gaining business support, but in other cities, that would be easier to accomplish.

But probably the biggest problem any superintendent faces is the socio-economic background of the students MPS serves. Milwaukee in unique among big cities in the many routes it provides for more motivated students, those likely to perform better, to avoid MPS. The open enrollment system allows any city students to transfer to suburban schools that have openings. Chapter 220 allows the city’s minority students to transfer to suburban schools. Milwaukee has a more robust system of Catholic and Lutheran schools than many cities as a result of voucher funding. Beyond that there are all kinds of non-religious choice and charter schools located throughout the city.

As a result, MPS has year by year seen its enrollment include an ever-higher percentage of low-income students and those needing special education. It’s an extraordinarily challenging environment for any aspiring superintendent hoping to turn the system around.

If there anything attractive about Milwaukee’s system for a potential job candidate?  Yes. As a result of Act 10, the system now pays less in benefits to teachers, which has trimmed costs, and the teacher’s union has been emasculated to the point it has far less ability to constrain decisions by the superintendent.

I am not arguing here whether Act 10 or school choice or Chapter 220 are good or bad state policies. I’m looking at this strictly from the perspective of a candidate for superintendent looking at the opportunity in Milwaukee. If I were a top-rated candidate looking nationally for a job, I could imagine deciding Milwaukee had too many strikes against it, and that other cities would provide an easier way to make my mark. The job of big city school superintendent is already tough enough, so why take one of the toughest posts, why not go elsewhere? In short, why not pick Baltimore over Milwaukee?

Short Takes 

-Thornton had promised to give School Board president Michael Bonds a head’s up if he was considering taking another job, but didn’t. In fact Thornton said nothing until after he was in Baltimore being announced as its new superintendent. “I think there are people who are not thrilled with the lack of courtesy to the board,” Falk says.

-Falk expects the board will launch a national search for the new superintendent, but adds, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with someone locally.” Here’s  hoping they look hard nationally.

-The orgy of press coverage on the emails of Kelly Rindfleisch began curiously at the Journal Sentinel, whose initial story was headlined “Judge expanded secret probe day before Scott Walker’s 2010 election.” That changed a couple hours later, after the Associated Press, Wisconsin State Journal and countless comments on twitter emphasized the evidence showing then-County Executive Scott Walker knew about the secret email system at his courthouse and all the campaigning on county time by his staff. The new headline declared the obvious: “Records link Walker to secret email system.”

The JS editors’ knee jerk reaction, it often seems, is to worry they might look biased against Republicans. That first headline could have been written by Christian Schneider.

Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

21 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Why Did Thornton Leave?”

  1. Tyrell Track Master says:

    Good article. I’d love to hear the inside scoop if Thornton would ever give it!

  2. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Good Super, no wonder the kids of Milwaukee cannot read in tenth grade and are almost illiterate. Ask 100 tenth graders to write a simple 500 word application and see what it looks like. I looked at lots of them in the pharmacy. Incredible.
    Why can’t kids read in Milwaukee one of the top ten worst systems in the country? Cause people in charge and others of their ilk, like Bruce Murphy are happy if they can read a comic book. Happy that the school system and the unions vote right and swallow up the kids leaving them unfit to hire then make the wages do high that no one will hire them. That is why we have 57% unemployment in the inner city for our youth and top ten in violent crime.
    You would think that after doing the same thing for the last 40 years that someone in Milwaukee would not still be expecting something better to happen.
    No, as long as the Left is satisfied with abandoning our kids, nothing will happen. In Tosa we ran into some problems with schools and we just tossed everyone out and started anew. Kids and parents. Challenge the Bruce Murphys of this world and do not allow them to condemn your kids to a life of nothing.

  3. Bill Sweeney says:

    “Another problem in Milwaukee is a lack of business support for the public schools.” This could be the topic for several columns. Urban Milwaukee used to have a column devoted to educational issues, but I have not seen one recently. I know I have heard about some programs by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and isn’t there some program devoted to improving education whose director is the sister of Kathleen Sibelius? I can’t remember the name of the program.

    Perhaps if there was a more concerted effort by the business community to energize change in MPS, it would be easier to attract some committed candidates for superintendent.

  4. Frank says:

    I’ve got to disagree with the good grades Bruce has given Thornton for his tenure here. Yes, Thornton had a great vision and built a good blueprint for progress with the district’s literacy, science and math plans. He quietly took advantage of Act 10 to avert serious financial problems resulting from employee pension and health care obligations. And he cleared the board of the hundred and some odd “initiatives” that blossomed under his predecessor.
    But Thornton was too often his own worst enemy. He created a climate of fear that made principals afraid to act. He took the same autocratic approach to community cooperation, telling businesses, civic groups and others what they should and shouldn’t do to help. After four years, a school superintendent should be able to name at least one major partnership that is producing results. Thorton’s record? None.
    Thornton understood better than any prior superintendent what needed to be done. He just didn’t have the relationship skills, political savvy or management skills to get it done.

  5. David Ciepluch says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful article. I had heard positive comments from community organization people that had met with Thornton. He was a dedicated positive advocate for MPS.

    Dedicated educated skilled professionals know they have a certain amount of years of shelf-life where they are at their peak performance and they can make a difference with their efforts. When you look at the Wisconsin current political climate and the flood of Walker emails, one does not have to be a genius to ascertain the evidence of utter contempt Republicans have for urban areas like Milwaukee, MPS, and minorities. Many Republicans lack any sort of human compassion or empathy, and the current batch of legislators is the least educated in modern history and do not have the capacity for real intellect and training for problem solving. Their approved laws have come from ALEC and corporate funded sources and are a detriment to a public school system.

    It is difficult for many professionals to stay the course in Wisconsin, knowing you face this kind of hatred and animosity, while you are trying to work to improve the lives of others. And all the while Republicans have their foot on your throat, and working to destroy what many others are trying to build up. Can you blame Thorton for seeking a better place to apply his skills and time.

    He has not been the only one to leave. It is just one of many indications of the decay and rot Republicans cast on the entire state with corporate laws from ALEC.

  6. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Ciepluch, what a bozo. Thornton left cause Barrett, as usual and nobody else would back him up and make the tachers unions mad. Thonrton could not get anything done and Barrett and the left does not care. They have been in charge of Milwaukee and the schools for 100 years and things just get worse.
    The only people that have tried to do anything to fix the problems are the Conservatives. Since the Left has been in charge for 100 years and Ciepluch admits that it is a disaster, the Left has to take credit. Not only has the Left been in charge of schools, they have been backed by the Journal and the stte was run by Doyle and co. And guess what, things just got worse. The only help that we can see for Milwaukee is from Conservatives since the Left not only has continually failed, the Journal has been apologists for them and there are no plans to fix anything.

  7. David Ciepluch says:

    As usual in many comments shared in various articles, regular concerned citizens have to deal with inane statements that come from Koch paid trolls. They offer nothing of intellectual value to the article or readers. Their comments are just the usual venom and ignorant filled spew and another confirming example of the hate-filled thought processes within the trove of Walker emails.

    As tax paying and participatory citizens and fellow human beings we deserve so much better than this type of acid filled leadership of corruption from Republicans.

    The word conservative does not fit with current day Republicans. Republicans of today are more closely aligned with fascism styles of governance.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @WCD To be clear Mayor Barrett does not run MPS.

  9. Mike Bark says:

    Here’s the problem and no one is willing to admit it. We are expecting MPS to fix all of societies ills and somehow make people value an education.

    Maybe I’ll be called a racist or a Koch-paid troll, but think about your own school experience. Did you do well pin grade school because you had some huge thirst to learn or was it because your parents set the tone in terms of expectations? Did your parents show up to parent-teacher conferences and back up the school at home?

    The problem really isn’t MPS. Like any institution there are good things and bad things about it. The problem is the customers. Until they want the service MPS is providing you’ll see no improvements.

    The right also needs to spare us all this talk about how great the choice schools are as well. Charlie Sykes is always telling people how great Messmer is, but when given the choice he sent his kids to Marquette High School. There’s nothing wrong with that, but much of the bashing of MPS really comes as a means of scoring political points. If parents wanted MPS to do well, it would be fine.

  10. Andy says:

    David Ciepluch,

    Can you please explain how your comments regarding conservatives lacking any compassion or empathy does not equate to “venomous and ignorant filled” and how that adds anything of intellectual value?

    You say that conservatives offer up no ideas for education and block any kind of reform… yet you have offered up nothing of value except to complain about people who have little to no control over MPS. The only thing the republican controlled state legislature has control over right now is funding, and funding can’t be the issue because Milwaukee regularly ranks among the highest in the nation for per-pupil expenditures.

    If anything, conservatives seem to be the only ones doing anything about MPS. By backing charter and voucher schools, they at least are giving families a choice to give students the opportunity to get an education outside of a failing school district where mediocrity is seen as great success.

    I can’t believe it took 9 comments for someone to bring up the family and culture in the community as the main cause of the struggles MPS has. We have a lot of excellent educators in MPS, but how successful can they be if the culture of Milwaukee itself fights against the student’s success?

    Conservatives have backed a mayoral takeover of MPS, they backed breaking it up into smaller districts so you can focus the resources to the parts of the city that needs it most, and now they back opening up non-MPS run schools to children who want other options. What big ideas have the MPS board and liberals implemented in recent history?

    It’s time to stop complaining about conservatives and blaming Walker for problems that came along long before they were in power. What major steps do the liberals think we can take to bring MPS out of the dredges of public school districts?

  11. David Ciepluch says:

    Andy,
    The article was about why Thornton would leave. I have read some of your responses in past articles and you provide thoughtful material. I may not agree with you on some areas but I believe you put forth your honest opinions and some good facts.

    Charter and voucher schools are not required to live up to the same standards as public schools. Their analysis results over time including private schools are not any better than public schools.

    Taking a billion out of the MPS budget, and then giving it away as a tax break to wealthy benefactors does not do the state economy one bit of good. It is a billion that just leaves the state’s economy and has not created one job. In effect, the lowered and frozen salaries of public workers by 15% has been a drag on the small business economy. Proof is in our stagnant economy.

    If you have a decent job or retired with benefits a person or family is likely doing well in today’s economy.

    You are correct that the client base of MPS has problems with poverty, nutrition, utter despair, 20% ED/CD compared to <5% in suburbia. Voucher and charter schools do not generally accept ED/CD children and are not well equipped or trained with staff. The Federal government has never funded the money promised for ED/CD education.

    In regards to empathy and compassion for fellow citizens and the needs of those least likely to speak for themselves including minority populations in urban areas, conversations with neighbors, friends, relatives, coworkers, peers, and reading many articles over decades and living in Milwaukee would inform most people about the overt and covert racism in Wisconsin. Actions of our Republican legislature that uses ALEC corporate funded laws that are not a benefit to the majority of common citizens and urban areas. Any comments on news and print from many Republicans show their disdain for poor, minorities, voting rights, union and worker rights, the environment, science, education, marriage rights, etc. They are pretty much against anything other than concern for their own power and the power of wealth and corporations. Republicans have never been an advocate for the vast majority of working people and rights. That is now more true than every before.

    Republican solutions are all about inequality.

  12. David Ciepluch says:

    MPS SOLUTIONS
    I have worked with suburban and MPS children on a number of neighborhood volunteer projects. Many of them have dreams and aspirations about what they want from their futures. I do have ideas on some solutions but I think a cross section of educators could offer better alternatives then me.

    My wife is a retired MPS teacher, my daughter is a former MPS teacher with 10 years of experience and at a current well-funded suburban school as a teacher.

    I would like to see a cross section of successful current and retired educators and principals come up with some solutions on best methods. Ask them since they are the experts and they would tell you what they need. I listened to countless hours of telephone conversations over the years with my wife and her peers. Breaking apart a school system with charter and voucher into separate and unequal parts is nothing but a divide and conquer strategy. In fact it really run counter to our Constitution and Supreme Court decisions.

  13. Andy says:

    David, yes the article is about Thornton leaving… and why wouldn’t he? Besides just being here because he couldn’t get a job close to home, why would anyone with big ideas stay in a district that makes it near impossible to implement any real change?

    I’m going to have to pass on commenting on your general statements on Republicans, and stick to the issue at hand.

    The main issue I have with your arguments is there is an assumption that taxpayer money belongs to MPS even if a student chooses not to attend the school district. I’m not sure why we would pay MPS if they are not educating a student. In the strictest sense of the word… yes, it pulls money from MPS, but it also pulls the student that the money is meant to be used for.

    The interesting thing is, MPS gets money based on a rolling 3 year average attendance number. So even if they lose a student this year, they won’t feel the full effect of that student leaving until 3 years from now. That gives plenty of time to adjust resources for the number of students they have.

    I’m confused where you’re getting this billion dollar amount from though… unless you’re talking the entire history of the choice program. Considering MPS’s budget is what… 1.2 billion total to begin with?

    The special needs situation is not quite a dire as you make it out to be either. Voucher schools for example have a much higher percentage of special needs students then is usually reported. The simple fact is, they don’t label students as special education students nearly as often as MPS does. Did you know that 14.6% of choice students that were in MPS were labeled as “special education” students in MPS but not in their choice schools? Also, 11.4% of choice students were identified by their parents as having disabilities. This is a far cry from the 1.6% number I’ve seen or the <5% number you tossed out there.

    Choice schools don't have the same funding incentive as MPS to label students as special education. Many of these students still receive special attention and personal education plans, but there is no need to label them as anything different because it won't affect funding much for the school. In fact, there are two entire schools dedicated to special education students and none of those students are counted as officially being "special education" in the numbers used by critics.

    However, there is indeed a difference in severely disabled students being served by choice schools… they simply don't have the extra funding MPS does to handle them. I recognize this… but we have to keep the bigger picture of the overall student body in mind and realize that the overall numbers of special needs children include only a small number (as a percentage) of severely disabled students. Now if choice schools got the extra funding like MPS does, we'd probably see a different situation.

    Finally, to say choice schools are not held to the same standards as MPS is disingenuous. Choice schools have financial, accreditation, and standardized testing requirements that are on par or higher then MPS.

    Clearly there is a wide range in the quality of choice schools, just like there is in MPS. But the fact that performance overall between the two subsets is so close and the choice schools do it on half the budget says volumes to me.

    Funding questions aside, the real issue here for me is that I'm quickly approaching the point where I need to make a decision on whether I am going to stay in Milwaukee or not and have my kids attend MPS. This makes the discussion very personal. Do I want my kids to go to a school where 60% proficiency is the best in the district? Where my child will have a 1 in 3 chance of being proficient by 10th grade? Where they have a 1 in 3 chance of attending a 4 year college or vocational school?

    Those odds are stacked against us in a big way. At least if I have the chance to send my kids to a voucher or charter school I know they have a little better shot. That's what it's all about.. the hope for something more. Quite frankly, while the 'burbs are offering our children a quality education… all Milwaukee has to offer is exactly that… hope.

  14. David Ciepluch says:

    Andy,
    I was at your decision points in 70s and 80s. We opted for private schools at that time and paid the price out of our pockets. Both children went on to local public colleges. We now have 3-Grandchildren in MPS and doing fine. There are some decent schools and many good people. And there are some schools that I would not send a child to. At least today you do have a voucher option. I attended a MPS public high school and colleges. I know you want a safe, healthy, environment for your children while in school and a good education. Fernwood, one example, in Bay View is on par with just about any school in the Metro area.

    I have worked with some of the suburban schools and attended functions with Grandchildren. They remind me of MPS schools of the 50s to 70s where there is a lot of parental involvement. Teachers and administrators that have worked in MPS and a suburban setting can offer better insights than me. Someone like my daughter for one.

  15. Andy says:

    Dave,

    I really do appreciate the tip… but that doesn’t address the issues we have with MPS. It’s unfortunate that in a school district of hundreds of schools we can only point to half a dozen or so that compare to the average suburban school. Worse yet, none of those schools are high schools.

    Although I would never subject any child of mine to Elmbrook or the the like… districts like Wauwatosa are far more attractive than MPS. Not only do all their schools perform well, but the schools are walking distance from home, don’t have the wide corruption and bureaucracy, and all around are that safe and healthy environment you mentioned.

    Unless major changes occur or better options are given to parents, those families who have the means will lean the exact same way that I am and the cycle continues.

  16. Tom says:

    How about this – Thornton was a a leader who wanted to motivate student to have high aspirations (isn’t this what any parent, teacher, principal would want?) and increasingly felt that was a near impossible challenge in Milwaukee. This is a larger socio/political problem.
    According to think tank Metro Trends, Milwaukee demonstrates the worst black-white equity in the country. Their 2012 study gave its greater metropolitan area a failing grade in every key indicator of social equity between blacks and whites, including residential segregation, income gaps and imbalanced school test scores. Milwaukee’s demographics indicate a growing tendency towards “white flight” that fuel that racial segregation, especially in the suburban periphery. Taken together, these factors form one of the more persuasive arguments for the existence of structural social immobility in America, and support the Equality of Opportunity Project’s findings that the poorest families have a mere 4.5% chance of reaching the top fifth of the income distribution.
    [http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/poorest-list/10-cities-where-the-american-dream-is-dying/9/]
    The politial “leaders” in this city have been horribly neglegent in addressing these realities for over 30 years!!! And when I talk to most white folks – full disclosure, I am white – in Bay View or River West or some other so-called “progressive” up-and-coming neighborhood in the city, they are so unaware of the fact of Milwaukee being the NUMBER ONE most segregated city in America, to the point of denial.
    We need citizens who will wake up. We need politicians who will take a stand. We need policies that will create a culture of possibility for ALL. Then, we might get a superintendent who feels he/she could justifiably promise kids they can be anything if they just work hard.

  17. STACY MOSS says:

    Nice article that cuts through all the noise.

    Considering the socioeconomic factors, being in charge of school system in large urban centers in the United States is an enormous challenge under the best of circumstances.

    Milwaukee is not the best of circumstances.

  18. geezus says:

    You’re all thinking too much. Thornton’s goal is the highest pay he can get. He’s in deep debt due to his egregious spending habits. He couldn’t handle his own matters, what could he do for MPS? He can do one thing in life–sell himself–and he’s selling a lemon.

    Why does MPS bring in these masterminds from out of state to collect a check until they move to the higher paying job, instead of finding someone invested in the area. Wait, that was William Andrekopoulos.

    What’s missing from MPS is a public interest in MPS. School Board meetings may as well be held in Terry Falk’s kitchen. When nobody cares and the public does not demand accountability, what could change? There is only one way the City of Milwaukee can save MPS: eliminate the board. NYC did this and so can Milwaukee.

    Milwaukee is entrenched with a progressive political system which considers change as a threat. Any change to the status quo is a direct threat to the people who get the money: MPS employees, charter schools, and school board members. A single party state is not good in a republic.

  19. David Ciepluch says:

    Surrendering a school board is giving up representative democracy to a single party and whom ever happens to be holding the strings of power at that time.

    As stated by Stacy, urban centers have diverse socioeconomic factors. Suburban areas are much less so and easier to manage and solve problems. Many of the problems within MPS are outside their walls and jurisdiction and could include poverty, lack of nutrition, various abuse issues, lead (Pb) poisoned families, crime and violence, language differences, despair.

    A superintendent is one role player that can help put band aides here and there but will not be able to solve all the problems. They need loads of assistance and resources outside the walls of the school system. The same with a Mayor or School Board. None of them alone will be able to solve educational problems without addressing many other needs.

    As a society, it comes down to where do we put our resource emphasis. As a country we spend about $900 Billion annually on defense spending (mostly added to the deficit). What does that really purchase in quality of life locally. Defense spending has gotten a blank check since WWII with no accountability or potential of auditing. Basic infrastructure is also aging and falling apart locally and nationally.

  20. Andy says:

    David, all the reasons you list is exactly why MPS needs to be broken up into smaller districts… Not that I want to ignore the areas of the city that have higher income and less socio-economic issues, but there’s no need to use all of our resources in a shotgun fashion. There are parts of the city that could run a school system that would be just as “easy” as one in the suburbs. Meanwhile, we can pour so much more effort to the areas that truly need it.

    Can you imagine if we can have class sizes in the most economically challenged parts of the city that have 15 or less students per class?? Or full time extra curricular teachers at every one of those schools? Not to mention the extra resources for social workers, security, and counselors?

    MPS has the highest number of administrators and aides per student that I could find in the state. Meanwhile, they have among the lowest ratio of teachers to students. Not to mention the bureaucracy and waste going on. None of this helps the students. I wish we could get back to a discussion of smaller districts where a Thornton or other administrator and school boards can make changes easier and quicker.

    Alas, this won’t happen… which is why it’s nice for residents to have options in where to send their children.

  21. Chris Jacobs says:

    Thornton was obviously an east coast guy who wanted to return there given a good opportunity. I didn’t see his effort here amounting to that much, but I doubt anyone expected anyone to do any different. I wouldn’t call the Baltimore city school district anything more attractive though: poorly monitored budget, thin staff working overtime for high earnings, a plan involving the closing of 17 schools over the next 5 years. The last CEO had his driver getting a salary higher than Governor O’Malleys, hence, nearly any candidate (especially someone familiar to Baltimore) is a better choice than the last guy. Knowing Baltimore, that is a school system that most people, given a choice, would never chance sending their kid. On top of it, the difference in quality between private and city public school education is probably one of the widest in the nation. While MPS is bad, Baltimore, for the most part, is worse.

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