March 12

Dean Howarth made a compelling case for McLean High School teachers employing “work to the rule” to gain support for fair pay [“Why teachers would resort to ‘work to the rule,’ ” Local Opinions, March 9]. His argument would apply equally if “teachers” were replaced by “police,” “firefighters,” “librarians” or any other type of county employees, who have also gone without raises most years since the economic crisis.

Sadly, allocating county resources is a zero-sum game — that is, demanding disproportionately higher teacher pay diminishes what’s available for everyone else, unless taxes are raised to enlarge the pool of available funds. The pressing problem is insufficient revenue to pay all employees what they deserve.

It’s misleading to highlight only the teacher compensation shortfall and disregard the same demoralizing problem facing public safety, human services and other deserving public workers. Rather than focusing narrowly on teachers, a more compelling argument would illustrate how countywide pay lags behind that of nearby competitive jurisdictions and has failed to fulfill explicit promises. Don’t pit employees against each other. Then we can discuss whether county taxpayers will adequately pay for services they expect.

Gabriel Goldberg, Falls Church