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Mayoral Hopefuls Lay Out Own Paths At Education Forum

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With the mayoral field beginning to take firmer shape, five of the candidates gathered Monday to debate education policy. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

It may be a crowded field of mayoral candidates, but when it comes to education, at least, the candidates' most pointed criticism is reserved for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"The one thing I think we all can agree is that the promise of mayoral control has not been realized," said Mayoral Candidate William Thompson.

At a forum Monday on education policy, the candidates refrained from attacking each other and each tried to carve out a signature issue. Comptroller John Liu wants to see more guidance counselors.

"Right now, one guidance counselor has 259 kids. We’ve got to reduce that ratio to about one every one hundred kids," Liu said.

Former city comptroller Bill Thompson criticized what he called an over-emphasis on test scores, while Public Advocate Bill de Blasio focused on early childhood education.

"I proposed about a month ago a upper income tax for five years so we could focus on universal pre-K, actual, universal pre-K-full day for everyone who needs it," De Blasio said.

Even City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, viewed as the candidate most closely aligned with Mayor Bloomberg, had sharp words for the mayor’s stance toward the teachers union.

"The next mayor has to change the tone. We have to stop vilifying teachers," Quinn said.

Meanwhile, publisher Tom Allon, who recently announced a switch from Democrat to Republican, had a plan for teacher training.

"We have to adopt the medical model of training of teachers. Doctors don’t walk into an operating room unless they have three years of clinical training. The same should be true of teachers," Allon said.

With the 2013 mayor's race just now beginning to heat, New Yorkers can expect many more candidate forums like Monday's, though not necessarily with the same faces. In the last week alone, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has dropped out of the race, and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion has expressed interest in joining it. And it's not too late for others to join the fray.

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