President's perspective

Bill Thompson: A great choice

It is no coincidence that within hours after the UFT announced its support on June 19 for Bill Thompson for mayor, the city’s 1 percent reacted with alarm, publishing editorials in the tabloids denouncing us and a long op-ed in the Daily News by Bloomberg aide Howard Wolfson denouncing Bill Thompson as a tool of the union.

Their reaction tells me that we are on the right track. The people who have done so much to try to destroy our school system and our union are terrified that parents and teachers will come together and work with Bill Thompson to restore sanity to our schools. And they are right.

A former city comptroller and head of the Board of Education and the son of a 30-year veteran teacher, Bill Thompson is a great choice for our city, our schools and our union. In a time when teachers are under attack, he respects us and the important work that we do every day in the classroom. As our next mayor, Bill Thompson will be a genuine partner with whom we can work to make our school system the best it can be.

Our robust endorsement process took many months of hard work during which we closely vetted all of the candidates, their campaigns and their paths to victory — more closely than we have ever done in any race before. We interviewed each of the candidates several times, analyzed their policies on education and broader social issues, assessed their campaign strategies and their teams, gathered your opinions through polls and focus groups and held mayoral forums in every borough to give you the chance to ask the hard-hitting questions that matter most to you as educators. And, while it was a tough decision, all signs pointed to Bill Thompson as our candidate.

Now that we have endorsed him, it is our job to see that Bill Thompson wins the primary in September and the general election in November. It’s going to be a tough race — the top five candidates are in a dead-heat — and we need to make an all-out effort on Bill Thompson’s behalf. Minutes after the vote to endorse him, automated calls went out to 170,000 of you asking you to volunteer for his campaign. By Friday, tens of thousands of brochures for his campaign were in the mail. By this past week, we already had 3,000 volunteers organized to staff phone banks and hand out leaflets to support him.

But that won’t be enough. It is not glitzy commercials but plain old hard work that wins campaigns, and we’ll need as many of you as possible to volunteer. Phone-banking, door-knocking and leafleting are all critical, and we’ll need your help.

After all you have been through this year and during this entire administration, it is not fair to ask you to do this work. Despite horrendous working conditions and constant assault by the mayor and the DOE, you have kept our school system working. But it is critically important that we have a mayor who will be our partner when we begin to rebuild the school system on Jan. 1.

If we all chip in, we can elect Bill Thompson as our next mayor in November and, working together, we will build the truly great school system that the children of this city deserve.

We’ve had a tough year and, with the election and the implementation in the fall of the new evaluation system for teachers, we’re looking at another tough one ahead. No doubt the DOE, in greater disarray than ever before, will fail miserably at implementing the evaluation system. That’s another reason we need to elect Bill Thompson — he’ll work with us to make sure the system is implemented properly and used the way it was intended to be used, and he’ll work with us to iron out any kinks and tweak it as we see what works and what doesn’t.

We have a real partner in Bill Thompson as together we meet the challenges facing our school system head-on. No doubt we’ll have our differences. I expect he’ll be a tough negotiator, but an honest and fair one who protects the interests of our city as a whole, not just those of the 1 percent. And he will always be there to help us help children.

I wish you all the best for your summer vacation, but I do hope you’ll spend some time this summer volunteering on the campaign. You’ve kept our union and our school system afloat this past year, and we won’t be able to move forward without you. We need your support in the election, and we’ll need it in January when we begin a new and positive chapter in the life of our city’s school system. With your help, we will persevere.

Bill Thompson is our candidate. We’re all in for him, and we’re going to win!

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