California Educator

August / September 2018

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A T T H E R E Q U E S T of CTA and other t e a ch ers orga ni z ati on s , th e C ali f or - nia State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) is reviewing its investments in private prison companies to make sure they are following the law in the ongoing immi- gration crisis. Th e a c t i o n f o l l o w s a l e t - ter from CTA President Eric Heins to Dana D illon , chair o f t h e C a l S T R S Te a c h e r s ' R e t i r e m e n t B o a r d . E d u c a - tors around the country have voiced their concern and out- rage over the last few months about thousands of immigrant children from Central Amer- ica separated from their parents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the presidency of Donald Trump. CTA, along with the National Education Association , has joined in that expression of outrage. "e California Teachers Association is deeply troubled by the recent events unfolding at the national level regard- ing family separations, the detention of families, and most particularly the detention of children by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It has come to our attention that CalSTRS has two private prison contracts with CoreCivic and GEO Group, which both have family residential centers that a r e h o u s i n g f a m i l i e s that have been detained by ICE," Heins wrote. CTA requ est ed that CalST R S chi ef inve st- ment officer Christopher Ailman verify that the companies are follow- i n g t h e l aw, n o t o n ly t o p r o t e c t C a l S T R S from future fiscal harm s h o u l d l e g a l c o s t s impact future returns, " but more importantly, to ensure that your investm ents ref lect your stat ed investment beliefs." In a written statement, Ailman said that according to latest engagements with the two companies, CalSTRS staff confirmed that neither is involved in sep- arating children from their families. Tough questions In hi s lett er on b ehalf of C TA, Heins s u b m i tt e d m o r e t h a n 3 0 q u e s t i o n s CalSTRS and Prisons As the immigration crisis continues, CTA asks CalSTRS to clarify its investments By Dina Martin for CalSTRS staff to review. Questions ranged from the length of time children have been detained in facilities oper- ated by CoreCivic and GEO Group to improvements in investment policies that CalSTRS can undertake. CalSTRS stakeholders, who are mem- bers of CTA and the California Federation of Teach ers, testified at th e CalSTR S Investment Committee meeting on July 20 in West Sacramento. ey addressed comments to Committee Chair Harry M. Keiley, member of the Santa Monica-Mal- ibu Classroom Teachers Association. Some urged the board to completely divest from private prison companies, while others urged CalSTRS to engage with the companies to force them to end contracts they may have with ICE. R e p re s e n t i n g Mo re l a n d Te a c h e r s Association in San Jose, fourth-grade teacher Jessica Smith said, " The grow- ing accusations of abuse and neglect coming out of these centers are causing permanent development issues in chil- dren they are housing. These prisons are what we as educators are fighting against every day in our classrooms. … We urge you to divest." C TA l e g i s l a t iv e a dv o c a t e Je n n i f e r B aker urged th e b o ard to c on du c t a speedy investigation. " I f t h e c o m p a n i e s h a v e i n f o r m e d y o u t h a t t h e y a re f o l l o w i n g t h e l aw, w e s a y, ' P r o v e i t ,' " B a k e r s a i d . " O u r m e m b e r s a s w e l l a s o u r b o a rd h av e spoken very loudly in regard to private prisons that we do believe the private p r i s o n i n d u s t r y i s p r o f i t i n g o f f t h e incarceration of the very children that our members are educating." Ailman informed the CalSTRS Board that staff will review policies and pro- cedures, as well as visit facilities to see firsthand how they comply with poli- cies, laws and standards. Findings of the review are expected to be reported at the CalSTRS Board meeting Sept. 19-21. A separate letter from Heins requesting a similar review was sent to the Califor- nia Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) on July 26. " These prisons are what we as educators are fighting against every day in our classrooms. We urge you to divest." — Jessica Smith, Moreland Teachers Association Fourth-grade teacher and CTA member Jessica Smith testified at the CalSTRS Investment Committee meeting in July. 50 Advocacy

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