WASHINGTON -- Alvin Thornton, an academic whose namesake commission had a significant impact on public education funding in the state, plans to run for Congress in Maryland's 4th Congressional District.
Thornton, 66, said in an interview Thursday that he is "deeply concerned" about the state of politics and that he felt that the field could use a candidate with "more seasoned leadership." Thornton plans to make a formal announcement July 28.
"I need to be a part of the discussion about some critical issues," the Upper Marlboro resident and Howard University professor of political science said. "If there's one issue that kind of drives me more than anything else, I'm deeply concerned about the state of public education."
Thornton is entering the race late, and he joins a crowded field that includes former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Dels. Dereck E. Davis and Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk and former County Council member Ingrid M. Turner.
The 4th District is based in Prince George's County, but since the 2011 redistricting, it also includes portions of Anne Arundel County. It is considered safe for Democrats in the general election.
Thornton was appointed by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening in 1999 to lead a task force to study how to overhaul state spending on education to remedy inequalities among districts. The Commission on Education Finance, Equity, and Excellence, which widely became known as the Thornton Commission, recommended a formula that increased state spending on education to more than $1 billion.
Part of the law called for "maintenance of effort," which requires local school districts to spend at least as much per pupil as they did the previous year in order to qualify for state funds. Thornton had previously been chairman of the Prince George's County school board.
Thornton worked at Howard University for 20 years as a political science professor as well as serving as interim provost and chief academic officer, and senior academic adviser to the president.