Speech Controversy "Embarrasses" Fmr. Mayor Kirk

Ambassador Kirk says he is befuddled, embarrassed by Texans

By Frank Heinz
|  Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009  |  Updated 6:16 PM EDT
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Speech Controversy "Embarrasses" Fmr. Mayor Kirk

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Ron Kirk

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Speech Controversy "Embarrasses" Fmr. Mayor Kirk

U.S. Trade Representative and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk said he was befuddled and embarrassed to be from Texas after hearing of the controversy in North Texas surrounding President Barack Obama's speech to students.
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U.S. Trade Representative and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk said he was befuddled and embarrassed to be from Texas after hearing of the controversy in North Texas surrounding President Barack Obama's speech to students.

Many North Texas school districts chose not to broadcast the president's speech live after parents expressed outrage over either  their belief that Obama planned to try to indoctrinate their children or they objected to a series of questions and lesson plans designed by the White House to spark discussion and learning following the speech.

"I'm befuddled. There are few moments in my life where I'm embarrassed to say I'm from Texas, this was one of them," Kirk said. "I think that some of those that have been the most ungracious and discourteous five years from now will be embarrassed by their behavior. But right now, I guess the best we can do is be embarrassed for them."

Ambassador Kirk uttered the remarks Tuesday after arriving at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, where he planned to watch the speech with about 400 students and then participate in a, hopefully, lively question and answer session with students following the president's 11 a.m. speech.  Two students at the school opted not to take part in watching the speech or the session with Kirk.

The uproar  led the White House to release the transcript of the speech days before it was to be delivered. The White House also backed off plans to ask teachers to assign lessons that included writing a paper on how they could help the president.  After reading the speech, many were left to wonder what the huff was all about.  Read a full transcript here.

"Former President Bush still visits schools. It is absolutely one of the best things those of us in public service can do," Kirk said. "I think one of the best uses of our time is to talk to young people and encourage them."

In Dallas, the district made the speech available but left it up to each principal to choose whether to show it or not. Fort Worth was showing the speech, but made alternative options for those who did not wish to view it.

In Arlington, the speech would be made available on it's Web site for students to watch on their own.  One local church opened its doors Tuesday, inviting anyone who wanted to watch it inside.  Students were allowed in only with an excused absence from class -- which Mansfield and Arlington allowed.

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