I am a Forest Park teacher, homeowner, and parent. In each of these roles, I am extremely disappointed in the recent editorial entitled “Still Too Rich” [Our View, Feb. 14].

The title alone is offensive. To imply that I am “rich” because I have received a yearly salary increase is ludicrous. My household is solidly middle class. I am not complaining about my pay, and I love my job, so I would do it for less and make due. However, it is worth pointing out that, if I were living alone, I would never stand a chance of owning a home in the community where I teach. My salary would not allow it. The use of the word “still” implies that I have been too rich for quite some time. I have spent years tutoring extra children at night to make sure that I can pay my mortgage (in Forest Park), and $350 a month for my child’s health insurance (because that is what it costs to get coverage through my district’s provider).

Yes, these are hard times. I know this well, as my husband is a contractor as part of a small business. However, in the seven years I have been in Forest Park, the school district has always operated with a surplus. So, while it is true that we are in a recession and the country is suffering, our district is fiscally sound, and can afford salary increases, or our top administrators would not have offered them. As for comparing us to districts with pay freezes, I encourage you to hold our forthcoming salary schedule next to the current Oak Park schedule. Then tell me I’m making too much.

Forest Park teachers make less than many neighboring districts. If you think that is not a problem, I urge you to see this point as a parent. I want my child to attend a school with the best and brightest teachers, providing the highest quality education. If the best and brightest can make significantly more money elsewhere, they will not come to or stay in a district that does not increase their pay regularly, at least at a rate that keeps up with cost of living increases, which have been roughly 3% per year in recent years. Offering comparatively low pay does not bring in the best and brightest, keep them here, or improve the quality of education in a school.

Additionally, if comparing pay between districts is a dangerous or unfair practice, how is it that you can compare us to districts with pay freezes?
You can say that this is different than what has been going on throughout the Midwest over the last 18 months, but to this public employee it reads the same: we should not be entitled to negotiate for better pay. From where I sit, it seems fair to pay an employee enough to live in the community she serves.

Abigail Hibbitts
Special Education Teacher, National Board Certified Teacher, Betsy Ross School