Let's Tell the NYS Teacher's Retirement System to DIVEST NOW!


1.  SIGN OUR PETITION HERE and share it with as many people as you can. Forward it to teachers that you know and ask them to sign.

2. Send a Letter to the Editor of your local paper about why the teacher's retirement system should not be investing in climate destruction.  (See Letter Writing Made Easy below.)


3. If you are a member of the teacher's union NYSUT: Have your NYSUT local pass a resolution calling on NYSTRS to divest.


  • Divest NY Teacher's has prepared a resolution. Contact Lauren laurengkirkwood@gmail.com and she will send you the resolution.

  • Bring the resolution to your local union leadership. 

  • Be prepared to speak about it to your exec board or rep council. (Talking points are below.)

  • It will be voted on. If passed, your union president will send it on to NYSUT to be presented at the RA.  

  • Please let Lauren know if your resolution has passed - The more NYSUT locals that sign on the better!    

Letter Writing Made Easy 


Daily the news is filled with reports of climate disasters and reporters are finally telling us that it's caused by global warming. But the reports don’t tell us what the cause of our current climate crisis is and what needs to be done. Letters to the editor are a great way to get the word out about the importance of taking climate action.


Letter writing tips:

  • Each letter must be unique – Do not submit the same letter to two different papers.

  • Letters that refer to a recent article or letter that was printed in the paper have a greater chance of getting published. 

  • Keep the letter short – under 200 words is best.

  • Personal or local references will make it more likely to be published. For example, I’m a teacher and I’m angry that my pension invests in climate destroying fossil fuels. 

  • Read the submission guidelines for the paper and follow them carefully. 

  • Choose a couple of the talking points below and add your personal touch.

Talking Points: 


  • We are in the midst of a climate crisis. – wildfires, super storms, record temperatures.

  • We must stop releasing greenhouse gases into the air.

  • The burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the climate crisis. 

  • Divesting from fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) will reduce funding for the industry to invest in new projects.

  • Investing in renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal and energy efficiency) will help the transition to our new energy future.



  • The NY State Teachers Retirement System (NYSTRS) has billions invested in fossil fuels. Before the pandemic estimated at $4.5 billion.

  • Is the 10th largest public pension fund in the US.

  • Provides pensions for 264,000 active members and 169,000 retirees and beneficiaries. All NY teachers except in NYC and other school personnel are members of the pension fund.


Why teachers care:

  • Teachers depend on their pensions for their future.

  • Teachers prepare students for the future – Lets make sure there is a future.

  • Students have taken to the streets to demand climate action. We should support them and stop funding climate destruction.

  • Institutions around the world have agreed to fully or partially divest including Cornell, Columbia and Syracuse university,  World Council of Churches, the Republic of Ireland, the California Teachers Retirement System and NYC’s pensions including NYC teachers. 


Save our Pension:

  • Fossil fuels have been the worst performing financial sector over the past decade. It is irresponsible to invest in fossil fuels.

  • A recent study found that the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF) lost $22 billion over the past ten years by not divesting from fossil fuels. The CRF is about twice the size of the teachers fund. 

  • The world is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning away from fossil fuels. It makes no sense to invest in a dying industry.

  • New York’s new climate law requires NY to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in just ten years requiring a quick transition away from fossil fuels.

  • NYSTRS pension funds’ fossil fuel investments are estimated to have lost half of their value since the pandemic. That’s a loss of over 2 billion dollars in just a few months.

  • Black Rock – the largest investor in fossil fuels is telling its clients that fossil fuels are a risky investment and they should divest. 


Where to send your letter

Send it to your local paper. Look for instructions on their website.