Birmingham last night revealed the names of seven secondary schools it wants to turn into privatelysponsored city academies.
The plan is part of the authority's bid to access more than £300 million in Government cash that will see a further ten secondaries rebuilt or refurbished.
The announcement comes at a time of increasing opposition to Tony Blair's flagship education reforms to give schools greater independence.
It attracted instant criticism from the National Union of Teachers, which claimed the authority had been "blackmailed" into signing up or risk losing millions of pounds.
The union maintained the authority was opening the door for a "two-tier" education system in which working class youngsters would suffer.
The seven secondaries Birmingham is proposing should become city academies are: The Heartlands High in Nechells; The College High in Erdington; Kings Norton High in Kings Norton; St Albans in High-gate; Sheldon Heath; Shenley Court in Selly Oak; and Harborne Hill in Edgbaston.
Under the academy concept, failing schools are demolished and replaced with new buildings costing, on average, £25 million each.
Private sponsors - usually businesses, charities or wealthy individuals - contribute up to £2 million, with the rest paid by Government.
Bill Anderson, deputy general secretary of the NUT's Birmingham branch, said: "The local authority is putting a gun to its own head. There won't be room for a democratically elected council running education in few years if this goes through."
Birmingham City Council refused to comment on the NUT's comments.
But it maintains it is offering a Birmingham-specific adapted model in which the authority still retains power over schools. "They will be schools with academy-like features.
"They would be part of the family of schools of the LEA," Coun Les Lawrence (Con Northfield), Birmingham's cabinet member for education told The Birmingham Post.
The council yesterday rubber-stamped its proposals for accessing funds under the Government's £60 billion Building Schools for the Future drive to rebuild or refurbish every secondary by 2020.
The plans will now be forwarded to the Department for Education and Skills. ..SUPL: