Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
Distinguished Professor of Education
at University of Illinois at Chicago
It has been announced that 200 Illinois State Government employees will be attending an ethics seminar at the University of Illiois at Chicago this week. Speakers from Governor Rod Blogoyech's office will be participating. At first glance, this seems to be a good thing-ethics training for an entity that apparently is in dire need. Of course, I may have noted a smirk from some of you at the mention that some of the speakers will be from the Governor's office. It goes deeper than that, however.
I have never been in politics-and never will be. However, I have spent almost 30 years in law enforcement, and I can say with total honesty that I never took a dime that didn't belong to me. I don't need any lectures on ethics from anybody.
During my career in law enforcement, while 99% of the people I worked with were honest, there was an element of corruption-as there inevitably is. A handful of the agents I worked with in DEA's Los Angeles office went to prison for corruption. It has led me to look at this issue of corruption with a certain perspective, and I should add that corruption must be discussed within an American perspective because in many poorer countries, corruption plays a different role within that country's culture. (For example, when I worked in Thailand, there was quite a bit of corruption with the Thai police-in a nation where the average cop made about 30 dollars a month.) While not condoning it, we understood it and tried to work around the problem by identifying counterparts we could work with.
The point I am leading to is that in America, if you show me a corrupt cop, I will show you one that was (in 99% of the cases) dishonest when he or she was hired. I cannot say with certainty if that percentage would hold in politics. In law enforcement, however, I feel the blame lies in the hiring. You cannot teach ethics and honesty to an adult who is already corrupt and dishonest. Law enforcement hires are supposed to undergo an extensive background investigation. That is where you concentrate. For those who slip through, punishment against public corruption should be draconian (firing and prosecution).
Similarly, when I was teaching at Concordia University in Irvine a few years back, all teachers had to go through a mandatory sexual harassment training course. To me, it was an insult. The onus should be on the institution to hire quality people who are not so inclined. You can give them all the material with the rules and regulations you want, but if that person is so inclined, it is going to happen.
So back to the Illinois training program, which, if I am not mistaken, is already compulsory. Is this going to eliminate the problem? Hardly. More likely, it will just make the state look good-at least on paper. Until the state of Illinois cleans up its act, with help from a stern legal system, and uses more care in selecting its employees, the problem will continue.
Final point: Let it not be lost on us that the seminar is being held at the University of Illinois at Chicago. That is where ex-Weather Underground bomber William Ayres is a "Distinguished" professor of Education. When it comes to the issue of faulty hiring, is this not ironic to say the least?
Looks like a case of the pot teaching the kettle how not to be black.