California Teachers Divest Funds from Gun Makers

Teachers in California, resisting calls that they should be armed in the classroom with something more than their lesson plans, are taking a stand against guns by  aiming one of their most potent weapons—their wallets.

The California State Teachers Retirement System, known as Calstrs, voted last week to divest itself of firearms holdings.  Teachers don’t want their retirement funds linked to companies that manufacture guns, including The Freedom Group, the maker of the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle used to kill 26 children and adults in Newton, CT.

California teachers pulled their pensions from tobacco stocks in 2008, and while the amount going to guns is small relative to the entire portfolio– $12 million out of a total $154 billion, the move sets an example for other states and allows teachers to take an active part in reducing access to guns.

As a college student in the late l970’s, I remember the big issue on campus was divesting college funds from South Africa as a way to protest apartheid.  I joined protests and wore an armband at graduation. A decade later, in 1988, Vassar  divested completely from its South African holdings.  The nationwide campaign resulted in federal legislation that is credited with forcing the South African government to dismantle apartheid.

Arming teachers and placing armed guards in schools isn’t the answer. Curbing access to guns suitable for battlefields is.

New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are examining their public pension portfolios and considering divesting from gun manufacturers.  Let’s hope others follow their example. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a decade or more tragedies to act.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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14 Responses to California Teachers Divest Funds from Gun Makers

  1. Go teachers.

    And the thought of arming teachers is heartbreaking on so many levels….

    Like

  2. As California goes, so goes the nation, I hope! Great article since money seems to be the only way to affect change. The NRA has made the ATF a useless agency. I’d like to see Marion Wright Edelman take on this fight.

    Like

  3. Patti Winker says:

    Money definitely DOES have power – for both good and evil. When you hear an elected official talk about how gun control is “not up for discussion” all I have to say is “follow the money.” Well, California teachers have it right. Using the power of THEIR money to be on the right side of history is a powerful lesson indeed. Thank you, Lisa, for posting this. I can always count on you to keep me informed… and hopeful. 😉

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  4. So glad to hear this!

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  5. This should be the trend across the country. I would not want the responsibility of a gun in my class and the added stress of having to know how to use it. I can only hope the rest of the country is saner than Texas.

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  6. Great! Glad you captured those crucial concepts! There is always a better way of doing things. This looks like a prospective better way.
    Lovely post!

    Like

  7. OmaOrBubby says:

    love your baby in utero education post. Very cute observation. I remember when I was expecting our youngest son, I took lots of music classes towards my music degree, and played classical music on the piano throughout the pregnancy. I did it for my music degree, not to “stimulate” the fetus. In fact, I probably was a bit intense during the pregnancy because of the pressure. So I maintain that when parents are so stressed over educating kids in utero, maybe their non-relaxed state is not so good for the baby either!.

    Like

  8. timkeen40 says:

    I won’t even get into the gun control debate. it is a waste of time. You can vote for the politicians who will pass all the paper laws you want them to when it comes to guns and it won’t matter. There is a much bigger problem to the south of us that no one wants to face.
    Let’s run down a list of things that are illegal in this country…
    Marijuana
    Cocaine
    Heroin

    You can’t legally get them in the US, but you sure can get them if you want them.

    While marijuana is grown in the US, all three of those illegal drugs pour across a border to the south that is unsecured. I am a staunch 2nd ammendment supporter, but I can tell you, as a law abiding citizen and someone who is fed up with this insanity, I would be willing to make concessions in order to curb gun violence if it would make a meaningful difference. But as long as our borders are not secure then taking away guns would result only in taking guns away from law abiding citizens. As long as the border is not secured, then anyone who really wanted a gun could get one or many of them.

    As for why the border is not secured is anyone’s guess. Well, unless, to Patti Winker’s point, you follow the money and realize that the only people keeping the border unsecured are the people you are sending to public office to represent you.

    I respect everyone’s opinion and I want to thank all of you for allowing me to express my views. I do not condone the acts of Adam Lanza. It breaks my heart and scares the hell out of me at the same time. I have a daughter in school. It could have been her school, so I am not dismissing the problem. I, like most everyone in the country, do not have an answer. At this point, I am just sure that curbing the rights of responsible members of society in response to a misguided moron is not the answer.

    Thanks for the post that leads to discussion.
    Discussion can lead to changed attitudes.
    Changed attitudes, not legislation, is our only hope.

    Tim

    Like

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