Arizona governor Doug Ducey is brimming with optimism. The businessman-turned-politician has spent the past eight years campaigning for universal school choice—and he has finally achieved it. Today, the governor is hosting the signing ceremony for H.B. 2853, which will provide every family in Arizona with an “empowerment scholarship account” (ESA) and an annual $7,000 per child to take to any educational institution of their choice, including private schools, religious schools, and homeschool programs.
I first met the governor last year at a retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where, in between firing rifle and pistol rounds at the shooting range, he spoke with me at length about the Founding Fathers, his own Jesuit education, the threat of critical race theory, and his vision for school reform. The governor had tried to pass universal school choice last summer but came up short by one vote in the legislature. This year, after rallying parents and negotiating with legislators, he has his redemption. Universal school choice has long been the Holy Grail for conservative education reformers. Governor Ducey has achieved it.
I spoke with the governor as he prepared to lead the signing ceremony for this historic victory. The interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.