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RJ: Against the mayor on schools, but with him on term limits

In all the hubbub over term limits, here’s one thing that’s been overlooked: Robert Jackson, the chair of the City Council’s education committee, is siding with Mayor Bloomberg and against the teachers union.

Jackson indicated early on that he supports extending term limits without a voter referendum — see this interview by Liz Benjamin from August, when the idea first broke out. Now he is one of the group of 16 City Council members supporting the mayor’s plan. His argument, as he just explained to me on the phone, is that he has always opposed term limits and should vote his conscience.

The position is significant because it pits RJ (his nickname) against the United Federation of Teachers, which last week voted to go against the mayor by urging a voter referendum, and against other groups that he has allied with against Mayor Bloomberg.

Jackson led the Campaign for Fiscal Equity effort to increase funding to city schools, a project that was strongly supported by the union. His tightness with the union has lately been displayed on his chest, next to the trademark “Robert Jackson” button he wears, where he’s attached an Obama pin distributed by the American Federation of Teachers, the UFT’s national umbrella union.

Jackson also takes one of the most extreme positions against Bloomberg’s treasured mayoral control of the schools. While even Comptroller Bill Thompson, a former president of the old Board of Education, favors some form of mayoral control, Jackson has said he would like it totally abolished.

More of his rationale for supporting Bloomberg on term limits is below the jump.

Jackson told me this morning that his term limits position might seem at odds with his many positions against Mayor Bloomberg. But he said, “Many people make the assumption that the mayor will be reelected. I don’t make those type of assumptions.”

He added, “The bottom line is that if people are so against the mayor, then they can work to make sure he’s not reelected.”

Will he work against Mayor Bloomberg? I asked. “I’m not taking a position on the mayoral race. I’ll wait till that comes. But I know that if my position is against mayoral control, and that’s one of the mayor’s hallmarks of his mayoralty, this tells you where I’m at right now.”

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