Some might say it is just a drop in a very deep and very full bucket but lawmakers in Illinois state government have taken at least one measure to amend a cycle of political malpractice among elected officials.
On Friday, August 21, 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB 4025 into law. The bill was passed on May 30, 2015 by both houses of the state Legislature.
Effective January 1, 2016, the bill requires at least one semester of civics for students to graduate from high school in Illinois. It is the first of many prescriptive measures suggested by Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson in their book Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality.
In Corrupt Illinois the authors explain the connection between education and the ethical lapses of the state’s officials:
Ethics, the cost of corruption, and its cure should also be taught explicitly in our schools. The Illinois Task Force on Civic Education in May 2014 recommended that civics should again be a required course in Illinois schools; that social-studies standards be revised to provide civic skills, including news literacy; that students should be required to do service-learning projects in eighth and twelfth grades; that teachers of civics should be licensed and be provided continuing professional development programs; and that efforts should be made in schools to encourage voter registration and voting.
After a generation, as these school children who benefit from these new civic-education programs become adults, they will form a new electorate that, hopefully, will be motivated to take the necessary steps to transform the culture of corruption.
Co-author Dick Simpson testified at public hearings by the Task Force leading to the introduction of the bill. Simpson also sent written testimony to both legislative committees and a letter to the governor advocating its adoption.
In light of the governor signing the legislation Tom Gradel and Dick Simpson released a statement lauding the bill and urging for further reform.
“This is an important first step forward to ending corruption in Illinois by training the next generation of citizens to oppose it,” the author write. “But it is only the first of many steps that need to be taken over the next decade to finish the task. We outline the necessary steps in our book and are working with groups throughout Illinois to implement the rest of the anti-corruption agenda.”