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The UFT’s Delegate Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to endorse Bill Thompson to become the next mayor of New York City.
“This is one of the proudest moments of my life,” Thompson told a press conference after the delegates voted at the June 19 meeting at UFT headquarters.
Thompson, whose late mother was a teacher at PS 262 in Bedford-Stuyvesant for 30 years, said, “I know she is looking down right now with a huge smile on her face and is telling me that I had better make sure I don’t let the teachers down.”
A product of the city’s public schools, Thompson said, “You teachers and those who were there before, you helped to shape my life … and when I am mayor, I am going to work day and night to help working New Yorkers like my mom and all of you.”
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said that the endorsement means “the union is saying we need to create a city that gives the opportunity for all and not a few; a city with a school system that is supported and not attacked; and a city that provides a real education and not test prep.”
Mulgrew added, “Mayor Bloomberg has damaged the school system in this city, and we need to repair it and we need a real partner to make that happen. We know that Bill Thompson will be a great mayor and a great partner for the New York City public schools.”
Thompson vowed to undo the damage caused by Michael Bloomberg during his 12 years as mayor.
“You can’t care about education and demonize teachers,” he said. “You can’t care about our schools and shut them down. That is a dangerous game I will never play in this city ever.”
He added that while there is a place for standardized testing, it should not be the focus of education as it has become. “We will work to prepare students for college and careers.”
Thompson said that when he is mayor, parents will no longer be shut out of their children’s education.
“We need to involve parents in the schools,” he said. “We must make sure to give them a voice and together create great schools in every community.”
To help ensure that parents and the public have a voice, Thompson said that he would reduce the number of mayoral appointees on the citywide Panel for Educational Policy to six of its 13 members. “If my chancellor can’t convince one person to join my appointees, something is wrong,” he said.
He also told reporters that “teachers deserve a raise and the fact they have gone without one for four years is disrespectful.”
The decision to endorse Thompson followed months of painstaking work by the union, including candidate forums with UFT members in every borough, repeated interviews with all of the candidates and their staffs, the union’s own polling of the public and its members, and more than a dozen focus groups with members.
In the polls of UFT members, Thompson came out as the winner, said UFT Director of Legislation and Political Action Paul Egan. But the union’s political action department also looked closely at candidates’ electability — whether they had campaign organizations and strategies that could take them over the finish line.