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posted: 9/16/2013 5:00 AM

All workers deserve at least a living wage

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I read with interest your Sept. 3 article by Kimberly Pohl. The title "Poverty rising in suburban schools" seemed to be grossly understated. A more realistic and truthful title for this article would have been "Poverty soars in suburban schools."

The table showed West Chicago Elementary District 33 having a poverty rate of 22.6 percent in 2000 and 75.9 percent in 2012. The difference is correctly described as a percentage-point rise of 53.3. Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 saw a change from 6 percent to 21 percent, a percentage-point rise of 15 during this same period. This math is correct while misleading the reader as to the real significance of the rise. A poverty rate that rises from 22.6 percent to 75.9 percent could also be described as a rise of 236 percent. The poverty increase in District 211 would be 250 percent.

The increases described in this way are still true while being much more compelling and presenting a truer picture of what is actually happening. This increase in poverty is having a devastating effect on our families and the education of our children. According to Bloomberg, in 2010, the top 1 percent of Americans received 93 percent of the increase in wages. This leaves 7 percent for everyone else.

Employees of fast food restaurants are often paid such low wages that they are eligible for taxpayer subsidized Medicaid and food stamps. Poverty is caused by a lack of money. Those who work should be paid a living wage. They should not be expected to work at poverty wages so that their employers reap huge profits while expecting the government to make up the difference.

The recent Rev. Martin Luther King anniversary celebration left us with this memorable statement. "You can't stay alive at seven twenty-five!"

Karen Wagner

Rolling Meadows

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