As the United Federation of Teachers and Mayor Michael Bloomberg begin a public campaign of grappling over criteria for teacher evaluations, UFT President Michael Mulgrew is not pleased with a parallel the mayor drew today between the union and the National Rifle Association.

On the radio this morning, Bloomberg noted that the UFT’s membership may not be totally in synch with what the leadership wants to do. That’s comparable to the NRA’s leadership and it’s rank-and-file membership of hunters and sportsmen when it comes to gun control legislation, Bloomberg said.

Teachers want to work with the best and most of them are not in sympathy with the union. There’s a small group in the union – and that is typical of an organization like that. It’s typical of Congress, it’s typical of unions, it’s typical of companies, I guess, where a small group really is carrying the ball and the others aren’t necessarily in agreement. The NRA is another place where the membership – if you do the polling – doesn’t agree with the leadership.

Clumsy, perhaps, in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting that killed 20 children, and Mulgrew is not happy.

“In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, the Mayor’s comparison this morning of teachers to the National Rifle Association is completely inappropriate, and a demonstration of how difficult he can be to deal with on any issue – much less one as complex as a new teacher evaluation system,” Mulgrew said in a statement.

As Liz noted today, the UFT is now running radio ads bashing the Bloomberg legacy on education and saying he is pushing a “my way or the highway” effort on the evaluations. The city would lose a 4 percent education funding boost from the state if the local criteria for evaluations isn’t agreed to by Jan. 17.