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Bloomberg, UFT At Odds Over Mayoral Control Of Schools

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg is blasting a proposal by the teachers' union to gut mayoral control of the city's schools, while the union president says that parents are fed up with the current system and want more checks on the mayor's power. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is lashing out at the United Federation of Teachers over its plan to scale back the authority the mayor has over the city's public schools.

"When they ran the school system, it was a disgrace," Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday. "It was falling apart. Buildings were falling apart. Books never got delivered. The minority kids got so far left behind, you had trouble finding them."

The teachers' union is proposing that the mayor no longer be allowed to appoint the majority of members on the Panel for Educational Policy. The panel votes on school policies, labor contracts and school closures, as well as other key issues.

"We supported mayoral control, and what we ended up getting was mayoral dictatorship," said Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers.

The plan will not go anywhere without the support of Albany lawmakers, but it is nevertheless getting a rise out of Mayor Bloomberg.

"When the UFT ran the school system, it was terrible," Bloomberg said. "Today, all the metrics have turned around. Even [U.S. Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan and the president say we have one of the best school systems."

The teachers' union did not technically run the system, but it did exert considerably more influence over it than it does now.

Mulgrew dismissed the mayor's attack.

"Look at the achievement gap numbers," Mulgrew said. "They have actually grown under his administration."

The debate over the future of mayoral control is also certain to become a major issue in the race for mayor, especially among the Democratic candidates jockeying for the endorsement of the teachers' union.

"We need a check and a balance inside of our system," Mulgrew said. "And if you are afraid of that, then you shouldn't have control of it."

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is opposed to the union's plan, and a campaign spokesman for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said he does not agree with all of the ideas in it. City Comptroller John Liu is more favorable, saying the plan looks similar to his own. Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson is harder to pin down. He said he is open to addressing teacher concerns, but he added that mayoral control must be preserved.

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