NYC Teachers' Union Poised to Endorse Candidate for Mayor

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A day after the union representing principals endorsed former Comptroller Bill Thompson, the United Federation of Teachers is scheduled to make its endorsement in the Democratic mayoral primary on Wednesday.

The teachers union sat out the last mayoral election, and the one before that. But since then, union leaders have become increasingly frustrated with the Bloomberg administration for putting so much focus on test scores and for closing struggling schools. It's now looking to elect a mayor with a different approach towards teachers, and how to improve the school system.

All of the Democrats running for mayor have said they would turn down the volume on some of the most contentious issues, such as school closings and the placement of charter schools, while giving parents more of a voice. However, as much as the candidates have sought favor with the union leadership, variety on the issues has emerged. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn crossed swords with the union when she refused to say the next chancellor must be an educator. And Geoff Decker of Gotham Schools outlined some of Thompson's positions here.

There will be a lot of activity at the U.F.T's headquarters in lower Manhattan Wednesday. First, the union's administrative committee will consider the endorsement, followed by the 89-member executive board which will then make its recommendation to the 3400-member delegate assembly. The announcement of an endorsement is expected at around 6 p.m.

The union's backing comes with an impressive get-out-the-vote operation thanks to its 200,000 active and retired members. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg called an endorsement by the teachers union a "kiss of death," noting that the U.F.T. hasn't picked a winner in a mayoral election in more than 20 years.