Whose side is the public on when Bloomberg fights with the teachers union?

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Education is one of the issues on which the 2013 mayoral candidates have positions that should be distinguishable from each other, specifically in terms of how much of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's schools policy they'll keep in place.

What this amounts to, in effect, is where the candidates place themselves on a political spectrum between Bloomberg—who favors charter schools and supports grades-based teacher evaluation and the weakening of tenure—and the United Federation of Teachers.

According to Quinnipiac's polling, many more people trust the teachers union (or teachers, at least) than trust the mayor, in terms of looking out for the interests of New York City public schools, but opinion is trending slightly toward Bloomberg.

Overall, 22 percent of voters trust Bloomberg on public schools, compared to 69 percent who trust teachers union. In February, those figures were 18 percent and 73 percent, respectively.

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Here's what the numbers look like among Republicans, Democrats, independents (who moved toward Bloomberg, then back toward teachers) and parents with children in public schools.

 

It should also be noted that the wording of the question is somewhat awkward. Quinnipiac asked voters whether they trusted, "teachers, Mayor Bloomberg or the teachers' union," but the answers were broken down into only two groups: Bloomberg and the teachers union.

I asked Quinnipiac's Mickey Carroll about the wording and he acknowledge it was awkward, but defended the survey results.

The difference between the public's willingness to side with "teachers" and the teachers union could be significant, however, which is why the union and the well-funded ed-reform groups that oppose it both claim to be speaking for teachers, as well as students.