There is a good chance our next 43rd District State Representative will be a Warren County native who grew up on a dairy farm and teaches Social Studies at Warren County Middle School as both Kevin Dunlap and James Jacobs fit all the aforementioned criteria.
Both men spoke at a recent forum sponsored by the Southern Standard and WCPI.
Dunlap said, “I was born and raised in Warren County. I grew up on a dairy farm in the Rock Island community. My father taught me the ideals of hard work and the dignity of working and the ability to be able to earn a living for your family and to do that with honor and dignity. I feel like I’ve lived the American dream. I grew up on a farm in Rock Island and my dad would teach us to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning. We had a dairy farm and milked 100 cows. My father told me as a young boy, ‘Son, if you don’t want to do this for the rest of your life, you better get your lessons. You better get your homework. You better get your studies. And, that’s exactly what I did. I graduated third in my class from Warren County High School in 1996 where I served at Student Body President. I was privileged to earn a Chris Whittle scholarship to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville which was based on leadership and academics That full-ride scholarship opened doors for me and opened up to me a world of opportunities. I had extremely incredible public school teachers. In this county and Warren and across White and Grundy counties, there are remarkable, dedicated professional that go to work each and every day and educate our children.”
Dunlap has been a teacher for 14 years. He teaches Social Studies at Warren County Middle School. He and his wife, Laura, are the parents of two sons. He serves as a deacon at Central Church of Christ. He is pro-life, supports traditional role of marriage between a man and a woman and supports all amendments and the Bill of Rights.
Jacobs said, “I was raised on a farm. I milked cows by hand and by machine after we moved to Centertown.”
Jacobs said his campaign run started as a protest against Common Core.
“I would axe Common Core immediately. It is the federal government’s way of telling us what to teach and how to teach it. It’s not good. This started as a protest against the massive and unnecessary testing in schools. You wouldn’t believe how much time is wasted in schools testing these students. A lot of my friends have pushed me to do this because I will tell it like it is. I would like to bring jobs here but also keep the ones we have. No more gun control laws. We have enough. I am glad we are allowed now to carry a loaded gun in our car. No state income tax. Stop government waste at all levels. Help those by putting to work people who get free money. Many people just teach to the test.”
Jacobs said thing such as multiplication tables and cursive writing are no longer being taught in many schools.
“Keep health and P.E. in school. Clean up our roads and rivers. Use people at the jail to clean. Keep the traditional American family. Give more attention to autistic and special needs students,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs also teaches Social Studies at Warren County Middle School but did not reveal how many years he has been as educator.
“I don’t want to tell how many years I’ve been teaching because it makes me feel old,” said Jacobs.
Dunlap wants to take his experience as a teacher to Capitol Hill. “We have 132 legislators. There are 99 state reps. There are 33 state senators. And, by my count and analysis, there are only two that are up there who have been in the classroom. I think we can use more classroom public school teachers at Capitol Hill. We need to represent the good people of Warren, White and Grundy County. And, I plan to do that. We have farmers. We have factory workers. We have an economy in midsouth in those three counties where we’ve been struggling in the last few years. It seems our state leadership in Nashville is primarily focused on the urban and suburban areas. And, I want to take new leadership to Capitol Hill. I want to take the Tennessee values I was raised in. I want to stand up for small towns and our rural communities. I want to bring good jobs, high paying jobs so that will boost our local economy. I want to work with business leaders and have forums and bring school teachers and business leaders together to discuss what needs to be done to help young people to achieve in this world economy.”
The two answered questions posed by Southern Standard editor James Clark including:
No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core – as soon as you bat your eye, there’s another education initiative. What can the state do to bring some consistency to public education?
Dunlap: “Our children deserve a superior education. Regardless of what people may say, our children are going to be competing for jobs with people all around the world. And, our children deserve the best education they can get. There are standards that are put down. We are not doing our jobs if we’re not preparing them for a vocation, a trade, a career or to be ready to go to college. Education is going to constantly be changing. We have to make sure we are teaching the kids and not excessive testing.”
Jacobs: “I would axe all three of those and start all over again. People of Tennessee are
perfectly capable of developing their own curriculum. I would axe all of it and have the
State of Tennessee develop a basic education for our students.”
An estimated 160,000 Tennesseans living in poverty are being denied basic healthcare. What are your thoughts on Medicaid expansion in Tennessee?
Dunlap: “There are billions of dollars that we have paid in income taxes that the state of Tennessee is losing out on in our economy. There are people’s jobs that are at risk in the healthcare field because we do not accept the Medicaid expansion from the federal government. The leader of the senate, Mitch O’Connell, from Kentucky, who opposes everything that Obama does … the State of Kentucky has accepted Medicaid expansion dollars. There are thousands of people in Kentucky who are getting health care. So, if Kentucky, Ohio, Florida and other states that have Republican governors can take the dollars that we send to Washington, I think Tennessee can do the same. We should help those people in our communities who need that help. And, as a Christian, as a neighbor, I think we should look for those people who are the working poor who cannot afford healthcare.”
Jacobs: “I’m a firm believer in everybody having some kind of healthcare. I have always believed that. Once, again, I think there is enough waste across the United States and in Tennessee that could probably pay for this healthcare. We have wasted enough money in Iraq and Afghanistan to go a long way with healthcare. I don’t believe we should raise taxes. I think we should be able to cut out waste. I believe everyone should have healthcare.”