The governor’s chief of staff, Kirk Adams, handed Doug Ducey the numbers. “Governor, I’m proud to say we have the worst-funded public education system in the United States. We’re behind Mississippi and Albania.” Adams beamed. “And wherever Borat was from.”

The governor was animated. “Really, Adams? That’s fantastic. The question is, can we top that? Be creative! Ask yourself, ‘Can we do worse?’”

“Well, we have an idea brewing in the Legislature. What would happen if we expanded our vouchers scheme statewide to include everyone? It’s a great public education killer.”

“How does it work?”

“We’re going to siphon off public school funds to subsidize private schools.”

Ducey winced. “Good grief. Don’t use the word ‘siphon.’ Think ‘branding,’ Adams.”

“Okay. Our vouchers scheme will divert public school money to ...”

“No, ‘divert’ won’t work.”


“No ...”

“Steal? Plunder? Rob?”

“Steal! I like the sound of that. It’s gutsy. Bold. Honest!”

Adams took a deep breath. “Al-right-y then. Our vouchers scheme will steal taxpayer dollars from public education’s pitiful coffers — giggle — and redistribute those monies as subsides for private and parochial schools! And we’re calling it the ‘Empowerment Scholarship Account.’”

Ducey laughed. “As long as this plan ‘empowers’ my private school backers I’m in! Nice work! Here’s an ice cream coupon, Adams. Try the Koch-o-nut flavored sherbet. ”

Adams pocketed the coupon.“We’re winning the fight, sir! I saw in the latest poll that 87 percent of Arizonans are getting sick of explaining the value of public education to Republicans. They’re desperate to accept Proposition 123. Throw a starving man a crumb and he’ll crawl to lick it off the sidewalk.”

“That’s wonderful, Adams.” The governor clapped him on the back. “Now it’s my turn. I have news for you, my favorite minion.” He paused and looked out over Phoenix. “I have a dream that one day all of our state’s kids will be eligible to get a private sector education — at public expense! Of course, we’ll have to snake around our state constitution to do it. Where there’s a will, and a powerful lobby, there’s a way! Right, Adams?” The governor drew Adams in close and whispered. “Listen, I do have a concern. I heard this might be great for low-income and special needs kids ...”

Adams shook his head. “Nope. Don’t worry. It’s all for rich kids. Look at Scottsdale! They’re already leaving high-performing public schools to attend high-dollar exclusive private schools on our dime.

“Parents of poor kids can’t do that. They can’t cover the high tuitions — even with the subsidy. And the transportation just isn’t there. All we’re doing is redistributing wealth — upwards — to the rich kids.” Adams slapped Ducey on the back. “You’re the Bernie Sanders of the 1 percent, governor!”

“Thanks, Kirk! I was worried there for a minute. After working so hard to gut public education, to stop the voters’ sales tax initiative, to ignore the court order to restore funding, to slash the universities, to cripple JTED, to kill off adult education, to cut off all our community colleges, and after working so hard to drive good teachers away from our state in droves — after all that — I was concerned that we might be doing something constructive.”

“Ha! Not a chance, governor! Relax!“

“I can’t. Not as long as we still need to provide public education to the lazy have-nots ...”

“Under our plan — who cares? The good news is this: Our public schools have fixed costs and crumbling buildings to maintain. With more cuts they’re doomed to wither and die. Here’s the bad news. The entire Tea Party is mad as hell because some Muslim-Americans may send their kids to Muslim schools. They say we’re funding madrassas on the taxpayer’s dime.”

The governor thought deeply. “If TUSD was teaching Juan and Juanita to revolt against this great country of ours — heaven knows what Ali and Jasmine are learning! I thought we regulated that kind of thing.”

Adams spoke calmly. “We don’t regulate private education, governor. Unlike our public schools, they’re completely unaccountable, unregulated and unchecked. There is no oversight. Home schoolers, private schools and parochial schools all operate in the dark. Remember, governor, we only use oversight and regulation to cripple public education.”

The governor got misty eyed. “Imagine! Under this plan — we’ll have a vast education system, unfettered by regulation.”

Contact editorial cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at