Taxpayers for Public Education Candidate Questionnaire
Taxpayers for Public Education (TFPE) is a Colorado based non-partisan 501(c)(4) organization with thousands of members throughout Colorado. The mission of TFPE is to support and advocate for public education. TFPE does not endorse candidates or political campaigns. We are asking all candidates running for elected office in Colorado to answer our survey. Your responses will be placed on the Taxpayers for Public Education website as well as our Facebook page. Please complete the survey by October 1, 2018. Thank you for your time and attention.
Name: Roger Barris
Office you are running for: US House of Representatives, CD2
Party Affiliation: Libertarian
Website Address: www.barris4congress.com
Email Address:[email protected]
Any other way a voter can contact you: Email is the best
Should taxpayer dollars support private schools? I am a strong believer in school choice, ideally through a voucher system. As in all areas of our economy, I believe that competition and consumer choice produces a better product (in this case, education) and a greater responsiveness to individualized needs. The biggest problem that we have with the current system is that it is a near monopoly, and monopolies always serve both their customers (students, parents and taxpayers) and their employees (teachers) badly. I believe that the government should pay for education but there is no reason why the government should provide it – the two things are logically separate. Therefore, I think that the current public schools, alongside charter schools and private schools, should be allowed to compete for vouchers from students and parents. They should also be allowed to compete for the services of teachers, which will assure that teachers – and not administrators and unions – will be fairly compensated and represented.
Do you support tax credits for non-public education? My preferred method of implementing school choice is vouchers since these will be available to all families, regardless of their income and tax status. However, in a second-best scenario, tax credits would be an improvement on the current system.
What role should private schools play in a publicly-funded school system? They would be one of the competitors in a system of school choice paid for with vouchers. Public schools could also participate in this system and the good ones would thrive. The bad ones, however, would be rightfully driven out of business.
How do you feel about the trend toward privatizing our public education system through education savings accounts? I support all measures to enhance school choice, including ESAs.
Do you believe in “backpack funding” or “portability” of public school dollars? I support “backpack funding,” which is yet another method for improving school choice and empowering parents and students. We refer to our current system as “public schools,” but in fact a more accurate name would be “regional schools” since they are only open to the “public” from their catchment areas. This means that the barrier to entry in a good public school is very often the ability to afford a home in a pricey neighborhood. This is extremely detrimental to the poor and, especially, people of color. All steps in the direction of school choice are beneficial for improving this situation, including “backpack funding.”
Do you support amendment 73? Absolutely not. The problem with our current system is not money – we have doubled the amount of spending per pupil (adjusted for inflation) since 1990 with no change in test scores. The problem is monopoly, which always costs too much and produces too little. Pouring more money into the current system is just reinforcing failure. We must first take steps to increase school choice and then we can consider increasing funding (either through the government or individually by “topping up” vouchers). In addition, the use of Amendment 73 to introduce a progressive income tax is also pernicious and is, I believe, a violation of the “single subject” requirement of the Colorado constitution.