Thornton Back at the Helm of Prince George’s School Board

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks introduces longtime education expert and advocate Alvin Thornton (right) as the new chair of the county's school board. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks introduces longtime education expert and advocate Alvin Thornton (right) as the new chair of the county's school board.

By William J. Ford

Alvin Thornton, an education expert in Maryland who 16 years ago successfully authored a formula to ensure equitable funding for all children, will return to lead the Prince George’s County school board for a fourth time.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Thornton’s appointment Wednesday at the Wayne K. Curry Administration Building in Largo.

During the ceremony, Thornton told a short story of how his grandson influenced him to rejoin the board he led as chair three times in the 1990s.

“He said, ‘Pa Pa, we need you to help.’ That was it,” said Thornton, whose two daughters graduated from Central High School in Capitol Heights. “I’m now very pleased to engage [in public service] again … at the level in making sure all of our children have adequate and equitable access to resources that they need.”

Thornton, an associate provost and former professor at Howard University in D.C., has followed the current statewide discussion by the Kirwan Commission on revision of state formula to distribute money for school and enact new policies.

The commission, led by former University of Maryland chancellor William Kirwan, is expected to approve a final report as early as this month for state lawmakers to review when the General Assembly convenes next month.

Thornton, who said he first met Kirwan in 1984 and worked on education issues, wants the current commission to enhance what the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools, also known as the Thornton Commission, conducted nearly 20 years ago. The main goal: spread funding into all the local school systems, not based on zip code, poverty status or limited English proficiency.

“I’ve said to Dr. Kirwan in what we want him to do is fund the revolutionary vision of [the Thornton Commission],” he said. “I expect the Kirwan Commission to build upon that [and] not to radically change it. That must be the foundation.”

Thornton also said he wants to not only improve the perception of the county, but also share his experience and work with “the younger generation” such as school board members Edward Burroughs III and Paul Monteiro, who Alsobrooks appointed last week.

“I am more hopeful than ever before,” Burroughs said to Thorton while standing beside Monteiro and interim schools CEO Monica Goldson. “Dr. Thornton will bring the much needed urgency and focus that we haven’t had for quite some time. We consider you our coach, our captain and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves to get to work.”

Enthusiasm about Thornton’s appointment quickly spread throughout the county.

“He brings a wealth of credibility to the position,” said county Councilwoman Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphi. “I think just his presence demands respect. I am really excited to see what the future holds for PGCPS.”

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer

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