NEW YORK -- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Tuesday he would not stop teachers from being able to strike. President Barack Obama accused Romney of engaging in "teacher bashing."
The issue came to a head this month when thousands of teachers went on strike in Chicago, Obama's hometown. Romney blasted the unions while Obama stayed neutral during the seven-day strike, which was resolved last week.
Romney said it's a conflict of interest that teachers unions donate heavily to the Democratic Party, "and then those politicians, when elected, stand across from them at the bargaining table, supposedly to represent the interest of the kids. I think it's a mistake."
Romney said unions care about teachers, not students.
At an education forum sponsored by NBC News, Romney said schools should get grades just like students. He said parental involvement is the key to student success.
In an interview earlier Tuesday on NBC, Obama accused Romney of "teacher bashing."
Obama said he's glad the Chicago strike was resolved. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is Obama's former chief of staff.
"It was very important, I think, for Mayor Emanuel to say, `Let's step up our game,' and it was important for the teachers' unions also to say, `Let's make sure we're not just blaming teachers for a lot of big problems out there. Let's make sure we've got the resources,' `' Obama said.
"Ultimately the most important thing obviously is performance and making sure these kids are performing well," Obama said.
Associated Press writer Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this story.