Interview With Delegate Kenny Alexander, Part 2May 06, 2008
Yesterday we posted the first part of our interview with Delegate Kenny Alexander (D-89, Norfolk). Here is the concluding part. We think you will find it interesting. Let us know what you think. familyfoundation.org: How important to your constituents are social issues such as divorce, abortion and parental authority?
Delegate Alexander: They are very important. My district clearly wants these matters to remain private. They should be left between the parties. They are family matters. Government should ensure, as long as those issues remain legal, they should be maintained. Government should ensure those persons have access to those services, but government should not advocate for them either.
I have a four- and a six-year-old. There are certain things I want to know about my four-year-old and six-year-old until they are 18 and leave the house. For certain decisions, such as counseling, I want to be included. As difficult as it may be, it should be an evaluation the family can accept, whatever the reality is, and it should be a neutral party not advocating for either side. There should be parental involvement at every level of a child's growth and development at all times.
If children are under the impression or belief that they are without the input of parents or guardians, what else do they think? That can lead to other types of social ills. Parenting is key. But if there is evidence of abuse, neglect or retribution, somebody should weigh this - a neutral authority so there is no retribution.
familyfoundation.org: Studies continue to show that the best way for children to succeed in life is to be raised in intact families. What policies should Virginia adopt to help keep families together?
Delegate Alexander: I agree. We can't legislate that, though. Unfortunately, we can't legislate a successful marriage. But what I do think is this: Education is key. Evidence shows why we have so many dysfunctional families and divorces. Some would think infidelity is the number one cause. But the primary cause is finances, poverty. You break the cycle of divorce and separation not by government but through faith, community, social and cultural organizations. And by families spending quality time together. Families need to spend quality time socially, through the arts, church, and vacation away from the stressors in life that plague families that lead to divorce, separation and dysfunction.
Even with infidelity, poor families stay together because of faith, love and a bond, and you can't legislate that. But you can create an environment of healthy and safe communities to ensure that safety net. Government shouldn't be there for the able bodied. When they get benefits, it leads to a cycle of dependency and that can become generational.
familyfoundation.org: You are on the House Education Committee. What types of educational reforms would you like to see in Virginia? (For example, perhaps more educational choice or more money directed to the classroom?)
Delegate Alexander: I think we need complete reform for how we educate our children.
One, we should recognize the global economy and we should expect global competition, meaning that competition comes from India, China and Korea for jobs in science, technology, engineering and jobs that require math applications. That's the up and coming economy. Are we putting too much emphasis on history, social studies and political science SOLs? They are good disciplines, but is it too much emphasis? Are we setting up our kids for failure?
The second part of it is vocational. Some kids show interest in vocational and technical education. Are we setting those kids up for failure with history and social studies?
In middle school we should start developing students' interests in career paths so their academic tract is geared to where they want to end up by the time they graduate. It could be military service, higher education or right into the workplace.
We still have the liberal arts tract because certainly being exposed to history, literature and the arts make you a better person.
Maybe that's too progressive to think that way.
familyfoundation.org: You also are on the Commerce and Labor Committee. What is your view on the Pay Day Lending controversy?
Delegate Alexander: I want reform. I'd like to repeal payday lending. So many people are trapped in a cycle of debt. It's not used for the short term. People go from one lender to another, trapped. You have seniors, military personnel, all using benefits to pay off those payday loans.
familyfoundation.org: What role does one's personal faith play in public office and do constituents expect officials to be guided by something higher than political expediency?
Delegate Alexander: Certainly faith. Trust. Commitment. Allegiance. Honesty. A person's faith will lead him in his political deliberations to be honest. Honesty. Trustworthy. Considerate. Be considerate of the opinions of all.
familyfoundation.org: Delegate Alexander, thanks so much for answering our questions. We look forward to seeing you in the future to further explore ways in which we can work together.