By Corinne Murdock |
Tucson elementary school teacher and prominent Red for Ed activist Wes Oswald derided school choice in a Twitter video posted earlier this week. In addition to teaching the third grade at Manzo Elementary School in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) and his Red for Ed activity, Oswald has been active in Arizona Educators United (AEU) and Save Our Schools (SOS) Arizona.
Oswald claimed that private schools aren’t held to the “same high measure” as public schools. He insinuated that taxpayer dollars mostly funded private and religious schools through vouchers.
“Vouchers really are just coupons frequently used by the wealthy to send their kids to private schools at a discounted rate,” said Oswald. “Let’s stop falling for school choice schemes. The vast majority of American families choose to send their kids to public schools. Our public tax dollars belong to public schools, not private and religious ones.”
Oswald also claimed that 95 percent of Arizona families “choose” public schools. Recent polling suggested otherwise: according to Data Orbital, over 80 percent of 600 Arizonans polled supported school choice.
According to recent research by the Goldwater Institute, Arizona’s K-12 public schools are more expensive than a four-year university: over $14,300 per student annually when combining state, local, and federal dollars, versus the cost of over $11,300 for higher education tuition.
AZ Free News attempted to contact Oswald to ask why he opposed ; however, his TUSD email appeared to be disconnected, and we couldn’t reach him for comment by press time.
During the 2018 election, Oswald was featured by Tucson News Now for his “Knoctober” initiative, where Red For Ed supporters attempted to knock on 80,000 doors statewide to campaign for their preferred, pro-public school candidates. In several of the clips, Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Superintendent Kathy Hoffman could be seen knocking doors and giving presentations alongside Red for Ed activists. Hoffman was campaigning for her current office at the time.
“We’re all banking on big change in November. We’ve already come this far — we had 75,000 people walk out in April, and we can’t come this close and just give up,” said Oswald.
Several years later, Oswald was a featured speaker for ADE’s event last April, “The Health of Our Democracy: Civics Here and Now,” as part of the “Educating For American Democracy Initiative.”
Around the same time, Oswald lamented to KGUN about handling the challenges of in-person teaching with some students learning remotely. Oswald has been opposed to in-person learning when any increase in COVID-19 cases occurs.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.