New Baltimore schools chief navigated complex terrain in Milwaukee

Erica L. Green, Liz Bowie and Jean Marbella:

— Newly named to head Baltimore’s public schools, Gregory E. Thornton has unfinished business in the district he is leaving behind after 31/2 tumultuous years.
Wearing a red T-shirt, he arrived Friday at a school where, to peals of laughter, the 59-year-old would join kids in a “jump rope-a-thon.” But, as so frequently happened during his tenure, there were political hoops to jump through first.
“How are we doing?” Thornton asked a state senator he spied in the welcoming crowd.
It was not so much a pleasantry as a pulse check: How are we doing, he meant, in thwarting two bills that would close public schools and sell empty facilities to private schools that accept vouchers?
In a brief exchange, the senator mentioned a potentially worrisome legislator, and Thornton said he’d already talked to her the previous night. And then, it was time to “make some noise” as he exhorted the school crowd who had gathered to jump rope in honor of a phys ed teacher who started the tradition 35 years ago.
It was just another day navigating the complicated terrain of Milwaukee Public Schools.