With eye toward the UFT, de Blasio rejects StudentsFirstNY

De Blasio and Thompson. (de Blasio 2009 via flickr)
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In a split with leading mayoral candidate City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said he would not accept campaign money from the education advocacy group created to preserve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education agenda after he leaves office next year.

De Blasio said he will "politely decline" to accept campaign cash from the organization, StudentsFirstNY, which organized labor and some progressive education advocates criticized for pushing for charter schools, use of standardized test sores in teacher evaluations and changes to tenure rules.

Quinn earlier said she would accept support from StudentsFirstNY, as she has in the past from the United Federation of Teachers.

In a statement released to reporters after first talking with the Post, de Blasio said he would "respectfully decline contributions from this group's PAC" because of "honest policy differences."

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De Blasio, who wasn't likely to get much support from StudentsFirstNY, released his statement five days after City Comptroller John Liu said he'd reject the group's money and support.

The real news here isn't de Blasio's rejection of StudentsFirstNY, but his willingness to draw a bright line between himself and Quinn on this issue.

All the candidates are in favor of keeping mayoral control and including some way of boosting parental involvement in the way public schools operate. But in rejecting StudentsFirstNY, de Blasio is making a meaningful gesture to the powerful UFT, which has signaled that it will make an endorsement in the 2013 mayoral primary.

Another mayoral candidate, former city comptroller Bill Thompson, has not ruled out accepting the group's support, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has not stated his position yet.