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Is Honesty Really the Best Policy? – Toyota, Atlanta School District and a Milwaukee Mom

July 11, 2011

A common statement is “What happens in the dark will come to the light”.  Such reality happened to Toyota Motors.  From 2000 to 2005, Toyota quietly recalled 36% of their cars sold.  It was not until the the acceleration problems and resulting deaths that Toyota and world had to take notice that Toyota was producing an unsafe product.  Consistent with Toyota’s operating philosophy or TPS (Toyota Production System) to eliminate waste with constant improvements, identify problems immediately, determine the root cause and resolve, several Toyota executives in Japan reported the safety problems in 2006. For 5 years from 2000 – 2005, these executives monitored and documented problems that current practices were resulting in unsafe cars. At the risk of losing their jobs, they reported their findings but nothing was done to change the manufacturing problems.  Competition and simply greed instead of the storied Toyota quality led to Toyota’s current economic problems.  Now lack of trust in their product has resulted in an economic ripple effect impacting all their employees and dealers worldwide.

For the Atlanta Schools districts, their pressure was also greed and pressure to acheive created by the standards set by the “Leave No Child Behind” program where school test scores determined federal monies, foundation grants and bonuses for achievement.  In the Atlanta area, directed by then Superintendent Beverly Hall, principals and teachers altered test papers to reflect the correct answers supposedly to preserve jobs. Superintendent Hall was named the superintendent of the year in 2009 and conveniently stepped down 30 days prior to the test-fixing scandal eruption.  Rumor has it that former Superintendent Hall is in Hawaii enjoying $155,000 in bonuses received for the improvement for the
Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) test scores in her 55,000 student school district.  Many states and school districts place a high priority on test results with up to $25,000 in bonuses for improved scores and loss of jobs or schools closing for low performing schools.  The Atlanta school district opposed investigations and whistle blowers but the scandal for widespread test fixing has finally been exposed.  One teacher reported Saturday test-fixing parties where teachers and administrators would erase answers.  Atlanta reportedly will fire all 178 involved who were found cheating and implement auditing and security procedures to solve the problem.

Finally, a Milwaukee mom took the step to turn in her 15 yr son and 13 yr daughter who she observed on videotape for a July 4th mob looting spree at BP gas station.  In the Mom’s words “These are not the kind of kids that I’m raising to do stuff like this, and I feel like I put all my hard work and energy into my children, and for them to go out into the community and do things like that is just not acceptable”.  Some callers to radio stations have blasted the mom as a snitch and advocated that she should have protected her children or given them another chance.

Every person has ethical decisions to make daily – small, large, and sometimes difficult.  There is always a short-term benefit to lying and cheating.  What will you choose to do and what will you report if you see wrongdoing?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jyoti Lalwani permalink
    July 12, 2011 3:22 pm

    Is Honesty Really the Best Policy?
    I would say “Yes”.

    I would like to add “sooner or later” to the statement mentioned by Cheryl – “What happens in the dark will come to the light”.
    I believe in the concept of “Karma” which advocates the fact of reaping what you sow
    We have example of Toyota and Atlanta school district in front of us. Toyota compromised the safety and life of the customers and in case of Atlanta school district; parents don’t have any way to gauge the progress of their kids. These examples set new lows for the ethical behavior.
    I agree to the intent behind the action of Milwaukee mom. If we don’t teach our kids when they are involved in small crimes, eventually they will get involved in bigger crimes. At the same time, I don’t think kids of 15 and 13 years are mature enough to realize the consequences of what they are doing.
    Honestly, I don’t have the courage to hand over my kids to cops but definitely my kids would have faced appropriate treatment. Mom also need to introspection the way kids are raised.

  2. Jessica A. Newberry permalink
    July 22, 2011 3:25 pm

    Using the housing market and the Enron scandal as examples, honesty truly is the best policy because one person’s decisions can effect the lives of so many people negatively.

    In the auto business, the executives release purposely release tainted cars because their accountants calculate the costs and if the profit is greater than paying off a dead relative’s law suit then they go ahead and release the product.

    The test score scandal is really a shame because the lucrative incentives and the threat of school closures and loss of jobs forced teachers to “erase answers.” I believe they were not left a choice so in this situation, I have sympathy for the teachers because they were between a rock and a hard place.

    This mother who turned in her children for their crimes was being logical and loving in terms of trying to teach her kids that crime does not pay. I support her decision because it sets the standard for their future conduct.

  3. July 23, 2011 7:21 am

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  4. July 30, 2011 3:07 am

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