Who is Roaming the Halls of your Child’s School?

The Bubonic Plague of high-cost variable annuity infestation has extended its predatory tentacles into the classrooms of our children. Invaluable teaching and planning time are at risk due to marketing schemes designed to entrap teachers.

While the damage being done to teachers’ 403(b) plans by high-cost variable annuities is irrefutable (see here) something much more sinister has reared its ugly head.

According to a very reliable source, a public school has become a second office for an insurance salesperson during school hours! This individual has literally put up a shingle that says “Open for Business.”

The most offensive part of this sordid tale is that this is taking place in the classrooms, hallways, and administrative offices of a public high school.

While it takes a great deal to shock me in regards to the egregious methods these individuals employ to solicit business, this crosses the line.

This story includes tales of insurance salespeople interrupting grade department meetings in order to push annuity products. Essential college planning meetings are being impeded by annuity hawkers harassing guidance counselors.

Classroom lessons are shortened due to impromptu, uninvited sales pitches. These unnecessary interruptions are conducted by annuity peddlers. These actions are commonplace in this particular building.

To put the icing on the cake, certain school officials are making numerous introductions to “the nice guy” who “everybody” uses for their 403(b) plan.

These sordid tales are offensive on many levels. The fact that innocent teachers have become trapped prey in an annuity “turkey shoot” sticks out.

Peer pressure and an almost “Messiah-like” reverence for the salesperson selling this garbage have been ingrained into the culture of this and many other public schools.

This individual has been designated the” go-to person” for all things financial for these teachers. This has allowed him to slither his way into their college saving plans for their children and other outside financial accounts. The devastating impact of these actions is immeasurable.

While everything mentioned is pretty awful, there is a much more sinister aspect to this situation. The education and safety of our children is being put at risk by annuity solicitors.

Being a former public school teacher for over twenty years, I know how difficult it can be to get a group of hormonal adolescents on task and keep them there. The last thing a teacher needs is Willy Loman throwing a monkey wrench into their classroom management routine.

Irreplaceable instructional time is lost forever. An enormous amount of teaching time is wasted getting students back all on the same page.

Where does this all end? Should Avon Ladies and Real Estate Agents be given these same opportunities? Schools are not a financial food court for those looking to take advantage of captive audiences.

Finally, there is a major student safety issue here. What are the security backgrounds of these people? Should they be allowed to move freely among students?

While I am not a lawyer, I do not see how this does not violate the basic principles of a school safety policy. This is a legitimate health and welfare threat to the student body.

Being a parent of two middle school children, I would be enraged if this was happening at their school. Who is this stranger trespassing on school grounds, who is allowed to be in close proximity to my children? This would be my edited reaction.

A few other points to ponder are also in order. Has this person been properly screened by school officials? Did the parents give permission for his access to teachers during school hours? Why has the common practice of getting a permission slip been tossed to the wayside during this process?

While this is a shocking tale from one individual district, I would not be at all surprised if this practice were commonplace in numerous other schools. Based on the track record of insurance company involvement in 403(b) plans, this conclusion has much merit.

It is very rare that cockroaches live in isolation.

Stories like these bring even more urgency to the pressing matter of reforming the Wild West environment of the 403(b) universe.

While many elected officials have been corrupted by the deep pockets of insurance industry lobbyists, they may have to reconsider their allegiance if this practice is proven to be widespread.

When the education, health and welfare of our nation’s youth have been put in harm’s way, all bets are off.

Those responsible for this system will eventually be forced to atone for their sins. Confronting a few angry teachers over the high cost products they sold will be the least of their problems.

To update an old phrase, “Hell hath no fury like a parent scorned.” May God have mercy on their souls because, I can assure you, the parents of the children used as pawns in this scheme will not. Neither will their lawyers.



This content, which contains security-related opinions and/or information, is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in any manner as professional advice, or an endorsement of any practices, products or services. There can be no guarantees or assurances that the views expressed here will be applicable for any particular facts or circumstances, and should not be relied upon in any manner. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment.

The commentary in this “post” (including any related blog, podcasts, videos, and social media) reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the Ritholtz Wealth Management employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded the views of Ritholtz Wealth Management LLC. or its respective affiliates or as a description of advisory services provided by Ritholtz Wealth Management or performance returns of any Ritholtz Wealth Management Investments client.

References to any securities or digital assets, or performance data, are for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others.

Please see disclosures here.