Sex, lies and school funding

Thursday, August 27, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Marty thinks the president should resign. In fact, he thinks we both should. The sooner the better.

"He lied. Plus he acted like an idiot," Marty says in his, by now, familiar growl. His voice-mail message, delivered in response to a column a week ago about President Clinton's "improper relationship," was vintage Marty. That is, it was brief. It was semianonymous. It was precise.

"He should quit. Today. You should, too. For defending him."

America pouts

Well, Marty. I didn't exactly defend him. I just tried to find a reasonable explanation for polls that show most Americans want the president to serve out his term in office. The only one I could come up with is that people fear that upheaval would be harmful to the country -- the way sometimes people stay in a bad marriage for the sake of the kids.

"Face it, Pulfer," writes Everett Banker of Maineville, "this man is a liar and a cheat, and he will never change. Most people in this country no longer trust him, and he no longer has any credibility in the capitals of the world."

Debbi Brumagem of Amelia says: "It's not like this is a total surprise. When Mr. Clinton was campaigning for his first term, his promiscuity was questioned. Yet Americans voted him into office and now are pouting about a supposed affair. Like appointing him to office is going to change his character.

"We have homeless children and starving families in our own city, and all anyone is worrying about is who the president is sleeping with."

Throwing money

Children were the theme of a column Tuesday that generated even more response than the president's duet with Monica Lewinsky and his semiapologetic, weasel-worded address to the nation.

In it, I wondered what would happen to our "school crisis" if we threw money at it. Just as we have done for the Reds and the Bengals.

"You've ignored a major roadblock," writes Jack Ruppert of Anderson Township, "that of union protectionism for incompetent teachers and a refusal to base teacher compensation on quantifiable results. And just what do you think the Cincinnati teachers union leadership would say if we recruited "the most talented educators in the country' and tried to get rid of the folks they'd replace?"

Oh, yeah. I forgot to say that in my fantasy world of unlimited funds for education, we would be able to dump the lazy and incompetent teachers. And lavish our resources on the deserving.

Such as a Price Hill elementary teacher. Her mom called to tell me that her daughter spent part of her vacation painting the hallways and classrooms in her school. For no pay. She is wonderful, but not unique.

"You've conveniently forgotten the school levies we voters have passed," says Paul Quarry of Carthage. "We're more than due a return on our investments through improved test results and improvements on buildings. We've been more than generous."

Wyoming schools are beautifully maintained and highly regarded, but resident Nancy Boss says, "We are right next to city schools in trouble. When I see kids going into dilapidated buildings, it doesn't matter if they're not my kids, not in my school district. They're part of my community, too. We have got to make it clear that we value all children."

Marty didn't check in with his opinion about schools. He usually swears he is never going to waste his valuable opinions on me again. Maybe this time he means it. I would miss him, even though I have never managed to answer one of his phone calls, coming as they do when decent folks are still in their pajamas, eating their Rice Krispies.

So I can't talk back to him. Sometimes people must feel the same way about me. Just to let you know, even though I don't always pass along your remarks, I read them and listen to them. And I always learn from you.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in the Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340 or e-mail her at She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.