Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dr. Thornton's Exit Interview

I just e-mailed a bunch of questions to outgoing Chester Upland Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton. He's in Milwaukee now having taken the superintendent's job there.

I spoke with that school district's Communication's Director, Roseann St. Aubin, yesterday and sent her these questions this morning. I'm hoping she gets them to Dr. Thornton to "briefly" answer any or all of them. He is, no doubt, a busy man right now. If and when I hear anything from his office I'll post it.

In the meantime, here are the questions. If anyone can think of any others feel free to pose them and I'll foward them along to Roseann.

Questions for Dr. Gregory Thornton -
1. What was the most surprising thing you found when you took the helm in Chester?

2. What is it Chester Upland needs most right now?

3. Why did you leave Chester for Milwaukee?
a. Because it's student population is four times bigger?
b. Because it's budget of $1.4 billion is 13 times bigger?
c. For the $50,000 raise?
d. For those toasty Wisconsin winters?

4. What would be your first piece of advice to the next C-U superintendent?

5. Is there any truth to the rumor being spread on the porch of Aronimink CC during the AT&T National that you didn't want to leave Chester Upland but were somehow forced out?

6. What are you proudest of accomplishing during your tenure in Chester.

7. What are you most disappointed about not accomplishing?

8. What do you see as the greatest obstacle to student learning and academic success in the city's schools?

9. You told our Paul Luce that your granddaughter had the power to keep you from going to Milwaukee. Apparently, she didn't exercise it. What does she have against the city of Chester?

10. Did you go to the opening game of the Philadelphia Union at the city's sparkly new soccer stadium? If not, why not? If so, how awesome was it?

11. How did you resolve the 37 outstanding grievances brought against the district by the Chester Upland Education Association in your first year as superintendent? (And when I say "outstanding" I don't necessarily mean "wonderful.")

12. C-U's teachers' union president Gloria Zoranski says glowing things about you.
What's the secret of a schools superintendent getting along so well with union leaders?

13. Do you agree that today's public education system is an antiquated relic in desperate need of reform? For instance do you think it would be a good idea for students to attend school all year long? Or is it still important for students to have summer vacation so they can help their parents on the family farm?

14. If we had school year round, do you think we could get rid of the 11th and 12th grades?

15. According to the organizational chart for the Chester Upland School District, the superintendent reported to the state empowerment board and all the other department heads reported to you. The elected school board, however, just floated out there on the right-hand side of the chart like a long-rectangular balloon with no one reporting to it. Based on your experience was that a good thing?

16. Why do you think Wanda Mann won't return our phone calls?

17. Do you see any similarity between LeBron James leaving Cleveland for Miami and you leaving Chester for Milwaukee?

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