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`ALI TAM:0E17E10K THEN… ri strlari in 1111 1 mg recommended Kennedy, and Bush the elder endorsed the choice. Kennedy’s public service merits are, of course, impressive: His 41 years in the Senate make him that body’s second-longest serving member. In his speech, Kennedy offered a subtle shot at the current president by comparison. Bush Sr., Kennedy said, was a “caring” and “inclusive” president who constructed a multilateral foreign policy in the postCold War “new world order!’ He then said, perhaps with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz in mind, “In this [post-Sept. 11] new world order, we need to take a wider view. No one has all the answers!’ Kennedy was interrupted by two hecklers in the auditorium. One older man stood and shouted, “You’re hurting America,” before being escorted out. Another man pithily yelled, “Shut up!’ After Kennedy’s speech, everybody headed up George Bush Drive to the presidential library, where Bush and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft presented Kennedy with the award. As the ceremony drew to a close, it became clear what Bush and his inner circle were hoping to get across by honoring Kennedy. “The senator from Massachusetts has often reached out to form consensus where possible. He is a true point of light;’ said Scowcroft, one of Bush’s closest confidants. “The message of tonight…is bipartisanship. That’s what makes us so strong as a country.” Judging by the reaction of protesters, hecklers, and radio talk show hosts, that’s not a message the radical right cares to hear. A LOSING HAND? Former Reagan Secretary of Education, self-appointed morals watchdog, and inveterate Las Vegas gambler William Bennett is on a losing streak in Texas. The University of North Texas decided this week not to apply for a “virtual” school charter that would likely have contracted with Bennett’s online education company, K12, Inc. This is strike two for Bennett. The Texas House of Representatives voted down a bill authored by Education Committee Chair Kent Grusendorf created a similar “virtual” charter schools program. Both efforts seemed tailor-made for K12, a virtual education conglomerate that provides software, online curriculum, and electronic access to teachers. In its inaugural year, UNT’s virtual school would have claimed $13 million in state fund ing, and was scheduled for rapid expansion. Within five years, the school planned to enroll 7,500 students and net just under $49 million a year. Students enrolled in the virtual charter continued on page 20 11/21/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13