How de Blasio Backed Himself Into a Corner on Closing Schools

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Mr. Mulgrew has also sought to redirect anger about the messiness of the reopening effort from the union back to the mayor.

Now, the union leader, long skeptical of mayoral control, will fight to change that governance system in 2022, when its current extension expires in the State Legislature. Mr. de Blasio, who is term-limited, will leave office at the end of 2021. Mr. Mulgrew does not want to return to a school board, but will push for a version of mayoral control that gives educators more power.

Mr. Mulgrew’s position, which has not been previously reported, illustrates how frustration with Mr. de Blasio among teachers and principals has grown so intense that it could have major implications for the rest of this turbulent school year, for the mayor’s ability to implement education policy during his final year in office — and even for how the city’s next mayor might govern.

Under mayoral control, the mayor and schools chancellor, not an elected or appointed school board, run the city’s 1,800 schools. The union had considerable influence over the Board of Education, which ran schools before mayoral control began in 2002, and lost some of its power under the new system.

Mr. Bloomberg won mayoral control of city schools after a campaign focused on the school board’s ineffectiveness and occasional corruption scandals. But now, Mr. Mulgrew said, the union will no longer sit out the fight over whether mayoral control should be renewed by the Legislature, where the U.F.T. enjoys enormous sway, particularly in the Assembly.

“No single person should ever be in charge of our school system again,” Mr. Mulgrew said.

Mr. Mulgrew’s position shows how dire relations between City Hall and the U.F.T. have become over the last few months, even as the union continues to be involved in major education decisions, as it has been since 2014.

Indeed, early in his tenure, Mr. de Blasio showed his allegiance to teachers by signing a contract that has given them more benefits and pay — including a scheduled pay increase during the pandemic. Before that, teachers had worked for several years with no contract after talks between Mr. Bloomberg’s administration and the union fell apart.

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