Mayor Rahm Emanuel dressed down his longtime political consultant Thursday — then ordered John Kupper to apologize for referring to Chicago Principals and Administrators Association President Clarice Berry as a “shill” for the Chicago Teachers Union.
“I regret my reckless remark and offer Dr. Berry my public apology,” Kupper wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.
In a separate emailed statement, Sarah Hamilton, the mayor’s communications director, wrote: “Mayor Emanuel does not agree with what John Kupper said nor the sentiment behind it, and he believes personal insults have no place in public debate. Clarice Berry has been a dedicated teacher, principal, and advocate on behalf of children, and serves our city well.”
Earlier in the day, Berry demanded Emanuel order Kupper apologize for calling Berry a “shill” for the teachers union.
“I want the mayor to direct his employee to make a public apology to me and to my members, whom he insulted in public,” Berry said. “He should work on the political side — not the education side. We want the politics out of our job.”
Berry accused Kupper of “engaging in the same kind of intimidation and repression of principals” that her organization and its members have been complaining about for the last week.
The back-and-forth between Berry and Kupper was sparked by an uprising among Chicago Public Schools principals complaining of intimidation, budget cuts and unfunded mandates. It was touched off by Blaine Elementary School Principal Troy LaRaviere’s op-ed in Saturday’s Chicago Sun-Times. At least four other principals have come forward by name to second LaRaviere’s complaints.
Earlier this week, Kupper sent an email to the Sun-Times in response to a follow-up story.
“First, this guy got a full page in the Sun-Times on Saturday. Now, a story as well? When does he get a column?” Kupper wrote. He chastised the newspaper for quoting “at most, four disgruntled principals” without mentioning more than 600 CPS principals have been given more authority by Emanuel.
The Sun-Times noted Berry had argued that, while LaRaviere “may have opened the floodgates” among those who feel the same way about intimidation, budget cuts and unfunded mandates.
To that, Kupper wrote, “Clarice Berry is not representative of all principals. She’s a CTU shill.”
Like LaRaviere, Berry held Emanuel responsible for stifling dissent among principals, saddling them with unrealistic and unfunded mandates and tying their hands with devastating budget cuts that have turned the mayor’s vaunted “longer school day” into a joke.
“The mayor is at the top of the system. If he takes credit for accomplishments, he’s responsible for the problems,” Berry said.