As the sun is about to set on Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s time at the helm of the Grand Canyon state, we should stand in applause nationwide for a job done exceptionally well.
Due to term limits, 2022 marked Governor Ducey’s eighth and final year leading Arizona. After all he accomplished during his first seven years, it would have been tempting for other leaders to rest on their laurels, but not for this governor. Instead, he fulfilled what he set out to do on his final lap, as communicated in his January State of the State Address:
As I enter the fourth and final quarter, I’m reminded of something my high school coach told me — ‘Get in and get the job done.’ And as I stand here today, the job isn’t done. The goodbyes will come later — much later. I’ve got 357 days, 21 hours, 44 minutes, and 18 seconds before the end of the game, and I intend to make the most of every moment and work hard all along the way for my employers — the citizens of this state.Governor Doug Ducey
Without question, Governor Ducey not only got in the game and got the job done, but he also became the all-time MVP (most valuable player) regarding advancing educational freedom. No political leader in our nation’s history has achieved what Governor Ducey did in his final year on that front. It was a championship-winning season.
Included in his eighth State of the State Address, Governor Ducey powerfully communicated the reality plaguing our nation — children are being held hostage by teachers’ unions and their political allies, who are keeping them victims to secure financial gains and maintain political power:
Fifty-plus years ago politicians stood in the schoolhouse door and wouldn’t let minorities in, today union-backed politicians stand in the schoolhouse door and won’t let minorities out. Many of our poor kids and children of color are trapped in a failing school. It’s time to set these families free.Governor Doug Ducey
Governor Ducey boldly committed: “This session, let’s expand school choice any way we can…Let’s think big and find more ways to get kids into the school of their parents’ choice. Send me the bills, and I’ll sign them.”
He made good on that promise in many ways. The chief fulfillment occurred just a few days after Independence Day on July 7 when Governor Ducey signed universal school choice into law — granting educational freedom. The passage was unlike any witnessed in the history of our nation. It expanded the Empowerment Scholarship Account program to all of Arizona’s more than 1.1 million students.
Parents need only to apply in order to receive between $6,500 and $7,000 annually per student to cover expenses of their educational avenue of choice for their child — private school, microschool, learning pod, homeschool, virtual school, hybrid, or a host of academic resources such as tutoring, curriculum, technology, or other learning supplies.
Governor Ducey articulated the significance: “Our kids will no longer be locked in under-performing schools. Today, we’re unlocking a whole new world of opportunity for them and their parents…This is truly a win for all K-12 students.”
And win he has. In his own words, the Governor recently told me:
We’ve made sure parents and their children have every opportunity for a quality education. From strengthening civics education to catching kids up after the pandemic, to creating the new ‘gold standard for educational freedom,’ we’ve given our kids the tools to succeed. Arizona knows there is no limit to what students can accomplish when they have access to an innovative learning environment and the education that best fits their unique needs.Governor Doug Ducey
Well, the time for goodbyes from his current role has come. In a few short weeks, the greatest educational freedom governor will walk out of office, and his head should be held high. But before he goes, he took time to share these words with me:
Arizona is a known exporter of good policy, and we would love to see Arizona’s innovative ideas and school choice model replicated in other states. My fellow governors can pick up any one of these education policies, scratch out ‘Arizona,’ write their state in and they too can have better educational freedom for every child in their state. When kids have more educational opportunities, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish. Let’s make sure they have that choice all across the nation.Governor Doug Ducey
The landmark precedent has been set — statewide educational freedom can be achieved. Now it’s time to pass the torch from Governor Ducey to governors in other states. Who will be next to sign into law educational freedom for all children of their state? Nothing could be more beneficial for their state’s children, society, workforce, and economy.
Arizona is the gold standard of educational freedom thanks to Governor Ducey’s transformational leadership. He put forth unwavering commitment, faithfully labored, and came out victorious. He has taken the gold by securing a better future for the children and the state of Arizona. Governor, we commend you.