To the editor:

We have an entire segment of our population that is taxed without representation: teens.

I am heartened that several teens have decided to run for governor of the state of Kansas because too many teens are taken advantage of by too many employers.

The National Association of College Stores states that the average college student spends $655 just on textbooks every year. For teens making minimum wage, that means they have to work more than 90 hours to pay just for textbooks; that’s not counting fees and tuition, not to mention daily living costs.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many young adults have to continue living with their parents while going to college?

Imagine spending a few hundred dollars to take a course after which you are certified by the Red Cross to be fully trained to perform a life-saving job.

But then you’re only offered a little above minimum wage to perform that job.

How committed would you be to saving people’s lives?

While the national average wage for lifeguards is nearly $11 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with some experienced lifeguards earning $16 per hour, lifeguards in Leavenworth get paid minimum wage or a little more in most cases.

Yet, when Leavenworth residents want access to public information, we have to pay the City Clerk’s office staff $20 per hour for retrieving that information.

While it takes some basic knowledge to look up information, lifeguarding requires several rescue skills that few clerks will ever achieve, such as water rescue techniques, CPR, use of the AED and various methods of first aid. Most lifeguards are also told they are personally responsible for the safety of everyone in the water where they work, even though many states do not specify how many lifeguards should be present at any particular pool.

According to the Recreational and Operational Ordinance for Local Health Departments put out by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, “all Category I swimming pools must provide an adequate number of lifeguards” and “all lifeguards will be certified by the American Red Cross” (Personnel and Supervision).

How many lifeguards are “adequate?” Let’s hope you never have to find out.

I make certain to thank the lifeguards who work at our local pools because, while it is their job to ensure our safety, a little gratitude often helps them feel less stressed and more attentive.

The least Leavenworth could do for our front line first responders is make certain they all are paid adequate wages. The least most employers can do for our young people’s future is to pay them livable wages.

The rest of us should seriously consider voting for a teen for governor.