As Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to turn the mayoral race into a battle between candidates' records on education.
Less than two weeks before Election Day, Bloomberg unveiled Wednesday a new 311 service for public school families, designed to make it easier for parents to get answers to their questions about everything from enrollment to school bus schedules.
Although the official announcement was made today in a Brooklyn senior center, the information service has used as a pilot program for four months.
Before the mayor took control of the school system, City Comptroller William Thompson served as president of the Board of Education. His tenure there was the subject of a news story in today's New York Times, which described Thompson as a conciliatory leader who led the board with a deft hand.
The mayor was asked about the story today.
"Well, the job that we need done is to make the school system better, not to make everybody get along better at an administrative level and I'll leave it at that," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The bottom line is the school system was nowhere near as good then as it is today."
The mayor went on to say, as he has before, that if New Yorkers think the schools were better when Thompson was president of the Board of Education, they should vote for Thompson. It is a challenge that the mayor seems confident that he will win.
Thompson, meanwhile, spoke at a rally in Manhattan's Garment District today and said more needs to be done to save the garment manufacturing sector and protect jobs.
He also spoke on President Barack Obama's shout-out to him at a Democratic fundraiser last night. The president has endorsed the Democratic nominee in the mayor's race, but other than briefly acknowledging Thompson in his remarks yesterday, he hasn't done much more.
Thompson insisted he isn't disappointed the president is not campaigning with him, even though the president is doing that for others.
"He was in New York last night and I was with the president, so no, it is not disappointing at all," said Thompson. "If anything, as I said, it... increases the momentum of my campaign that he was there last night and had good things and positive things to say. That he made clear his endorsement for my candidacy and that he has the faith, not just in my ability to lead the city, but in being able to win."
The Thompson campaign is expected to emphasize the president's support until Election Day.