In a speech on education Thursday morning for the Association for a Better New York in Midtown, Republican mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota said that anyone who wants to weaken mayoral control of the city's schools is afraid of being held accountable, and he said he would not "pander" to the teachers' union. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
There are some very clear differences between Republican candidate for mayor Joseph Lhota and his Democratic rivals. For starters, Lhota is effusive in his praise for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's record on education, while many of his opponents are not.
"Where is the support for all of the advances that have been made? Why aren't they rallying around Mayor Bloomberg?" Lhota said. "The answer is quite simple, for me, at least. They're all afraid."
In a speech on education before the Association for a Better New York, Lhota defended mayoral control of the city's schools and said that anyone who wants to weaken it does not want to be held accountable for student performance.
Lhota called for doubling the number of charter schools, and he voiced support for merit-based teacher pay, but he said the system will only work if individual teachers get the bonus. When the city experimented with merit pay a few years ago, officials were allowed to give out raises evenly among teachers at a school.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Lhota and many of his rivals is that he was not jockeying to get the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers, which announced its support for Democratic candidate William Thompson Wednesday.
"I'm not going to pander to the union. We've just gone through all that," Lhota said. "I'm willing to cooperate with the UFT, I'm willing to sit down with them and to negotiate, but let me tell you, I'm not going to give them a back rub in an election year like so many other candidates."
Lhota said he wants to work with the teachers' union to improve the school system, but he admitted that he has not met with UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
"He knows who I am. I know who he is. That's about the extent of it," Lhota said.
Meanwhile, one of Lhota's Republican opponents, businessman John Catsimatidis, released a new television ad with former Governor George Pataki among those touting his campaign
Pataki says in the ad, "Look, John wants to give every New Yorker a chance, like he had."
Catsimatidis then says, "And if I can do it, you can do it too."