Mayor Bloomberg, a longstanding charter school champion, teed off this morning on Harlem Sen. Bill Perkins, who hosted a controversial public hearing on the schools yesterday.

“Bill Perkins is a guy who went to elite private schools and he represents a districts where most people can’t afford elite private schools and charter schools are their opportunity to get their kids a great education,” Bloomberg told WOR’s John Gambling.

“….The public wants better schools. Charter schools are public schools, and you’ve got to remember: Most of the public schools are not charter schools, and they keep getting better and better. And one of the reasons I think they keep getting better and better is that charter schools give them competition. Competition’s great for everybody, and it’s one of those things we want to encourage.”

“Perkins has been violently against it, while the educators, the public and the parents want more of it.”

The mayor later added:

“Perkins, I just don’t understand where he comes from on some of this stuff. It’s kind of hard to argue. Not every charter school is doing well, but most are. They certainly provide competition and they give parents choice.”

Another outspoken charter school advocate, Sen. Craig Johnson, was at Perkins’ hearing. During an interview with me on “Capital Tonight” last night, Johnson slammed the event hosted by his Democratic conference colleague, saying Perkins had stacked the deck with charter school opponents.

Bloomberg heaped praise on UFT President Mike Mulgrew, whose union is under fire from charter school advocates who believe it blocked efforts to raise the cap in Albany in advance of the state’s “Race to the Top” application (which failed).

The mayor called Mulgrew “just spectacular” and “tough as nails,” but also someone who “understands we have to move forward.”

The Bloomberg administration and the UFT are still locked in a protracted contract negotiation, although they did just announce a deal on doing away with so-called “rubber rooms.” The mayor credited his new communications director, Howard Wolfson, as a key player in that negotiation. Wolfson’s former consulting firm, Glover Park Group, represents this UFT.