01

Education

We must provide every child in Tennessee with an opportunity to succeed in our public education system.  If there’s a common mantra I hear when I talk with teachers in the public school system, it’s that students today face problems very different from the students of 20 or 30 years ago, and yet our school system has not changed to address the needs of today’s students.  When elected, I will work to:

  • address the unique needs of children who are victims of the opioid crisis;

  • improve pre-primary school life experience so all children have fundamental social, emotional, and intellectual skills when they enter our public school system; 

  • reduce food insecurity for the more than 28% of students in District 18 who qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program;

  • address the barriers to education for the 14% of students who are disabled in District 18;

  • increase respect for public school teachers and ensure they have the time, the resources, and the technology they need to provide a quality education to our children;

  • ensure public funds are not diverted to subsidize private schools and instead are used to support our public school system including increasing pay for public school teachers and adequately staffing our schools with mental health counselors;

  • shift the focus away from testing and back to educating; and

  • ensure the security and safety of students.

I grew up through the public school system, with my mother working as a lunchroom cook and my father as an English teacher and school bus driver.  My mother taught special education for more than 20 years.  My father, step-father, and two uncles were all life-long public school teachers and my sister has been teaching in the public school system for more than 20 years. 

 
 

02

Economic Growth

For Tennessee to reach its full economic potential, every Tennessean must have an opportunity to improve their economic condition and achieve financial stability.  When elected I will draw on my 15+ years of providing legal guidance to small business owners and 11+ years of operating my own successful small business to improve the economic condition of everyone in our district. I will:

  • promote small business initiatives, including increasing access to affordable financing for business growth, especially for women and minority-owned businesses in our district;

  • work with business leaders to identify and solve workforce skills gaps; 

  • establish a state minimum wage, recognizing that improving the financial lives of the lowest-paid workers increases their ability to fully participate in and contribute to Tennessee’s economy; and

  • leverage our proximity to Oak Ridge and the presence of the University of Tennessee to attract high-value industries such as advanced manufacturing to our area.

In Knox County in 2018, 24.8% of Knox County’s employment was in education and health services, 13.5% in retail, 12.5% in leisure and hospitality, 5.5% was in manufacturing, and 5.1% in construction

 

03

Healthcare

Our insurance-focused health system is restricting worker movement and adding unnecessary complexity and cost to healthcare. We must look beyond the fight for affordable health insurance and demand an opportunity for every Tennessean to be healthy.  When elected, I will work to:

  • promote community health worker initiatives to address social and environmental factors that negatively impact the health of Tennesseans including food insecurity, housing stability, drug addiction, domestic violence, and untreated mental health conditions;

  • reduce prescription drug use and rein in skyrocketing drug costs;

  • reduce complexity in our insurance system to avoid surprises with uncovered medical costs; 

  • improve price transparency for medical costs; 

  • reduce the number of uninsured Tennesseans through expanding insurance plan offerings under the Affordable Care Act and expanding TennCare/Medicaid to cover uninsured Tennesseans who cannot afford a plan under the Affordable Care Act; and

  • promote investment in outdoor recreation (Victor Ashe Park, West Hills and Bynon Park/ (Jean Teague Greenway, and Ten Mile Creek Greenway).

 

04

Post Secondary

Education

We must continue our government’s recent commitment to providing economically disadvantaged Tennesseans with an opportunity to obtain the knowledge and the skills needed to succeed in today’s ever-changing economy without facing decades of student loan debt. Programs like Tennessee Promise and the HOPE Scholarship are making college more accessible to many; however, vocational training programs are insufficient to overcome the entry barriers for others.

I understand the value of offering alternatives to college.  In 1985, I graduated from the Tennessee Institute of Electronics with an associate degree that later led to a job with Matsushita Electronics Corporation of America (better known as Panasonic).  I worked for 8 years in manufacturing, in positions that paid well above the minimum wage and provided healthcare and retirement benefits. 

Paid for by Friends of Virginia Couch | Carolyn Blind, Treasurer

© 2020 for Virginia Couch. Designed by Nick D'Alessandro.

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