Questions raised about Kirk's teaching record

June 17, 2010 (CHICAGO)

First Mark Kirk was questioned about the accuracy of his military record. Now there are questions about what Kirk says about his teaching career.

Did Mark Kirk misremember, exaggerate or lie when he talked about a teaching job he held 29 years ago? Did he really believe that some of the pre-schoolers he taught might bring a gun to class? It is the latest episode in a sometimes unbelievable US Senate campaign.

While he has never claimed to have been an accredited teacher, Congressman Kirk's campaign often mentions their candidate's brief experiences in the classroom: He taught the 1982-83 academic year at a private high school in London and earlier in 1981, the campaign says, at a church run nursery school in Ithaca, New York.

So was Kirk talking about his stateside teaching experience when he spoke on the floor of Congress in support of a school security bill he sponsored in 2006?

"I served as a teacher, and I remember the kids who remember the kids who were the brightest lights of our country's future. I also remember those who bore scrutiny as people who might bring a gun to class," Kirk said in 2006.

The congressman is in Washington unavailable to answer the question: were "the people who might bring a gun to class" those pre-schoolers?

Kirk's Democratic opponent Alexi Giannoulias visited a Chicago Park District fieldhouse Thursday accompanied by President Barack Obama's education secretary Arne Duncan.

Since Kirk's earlier "misremembrance" of his military records and exploits, the Giannoulias campaign has been on a roll.

"Congressman Kirk, he's even admitted he hasn't told the truth, and these are serious questions that keep on popping up. And it begs the question, What else in his professional career as a congressman he is not telling the truth about?" said Giannoulias.

But a Kirk surrogate, DuPage County Republican state's attorney Joe Birkett held a news conference Thursday charging that Giannoulias and his operatives are trying to "rebrand" their campaign to distract attention from the problems related to the Giannoulias family-owned Broadway Bank.

"I talked to Congressman Kirk this morning---we're not gonna let him do that. I'm here on behalf of Mark's campaign, I support him 100 percent. We will not let the voters of Illinois be fooled again," said Birkett.

Also Thursday, the Kirk campaign issued a statement from a group calling itself "Education Leaders for Kirk" calling the congressman a great friend to teachers, parents and kids alike.

Watching this campaign develop, you can see how what a candidate says on camera on video can haunt him many years later.

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