Outcry against misuse of “seclusion rooms” by schools across Illinois; State takes action. Many school districts use “seclusion rooms” and “isolation rooms” as places where students whom an educator believes to be disruptive can be sent for time-outs. News reports this week suggest that some schools are misusing seclusion rooms, or using them in the wrong circumstances and on the wrong students. Some students have behavioral or emotional problems that make isolation and seclusion a cruel punishment to inflict upon them. Many parents want to believe that their schools know what they are doing when they punish a schoolchild in this way, but an investigation has found that there very few cases where a school examines and diagnoses a student’s psychological state before sending the child to an isolation room. Worse, in some cases the school should know that this act is inappropriate – and they do it anyway. Following publication of this investigative report, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued emergency rules to ban the isolation of a student in a locked quiet room. Based on the new rules, students who are assigned to “time outs” will be monitored rather than isolated.
Thanksgiving celebrations come with a healthy dose of 17th-century Pilgrim imagery. They are in recognition of what is generally considered the very first Thanksgiving in America – the feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621.

The concept of holding a special celebration to give thanks is one which appears throughout American history. Settlers in Virginia wrote of having a feast of thanksgiving as early as 1610. President George Washington called for such an occasion in 1789, shortly after his inauguration. Different states, principally in the Northeast, marked these occasions at different times throughout the year, but usually tied to the harvest season.
House Republicans call for passage of sweeping ethics reform package. In the wake of even more federal corruption investigations entangling multiple layers of Illinois government, House Republicans continued to press the case for comprehensive ethics reform. Tuesday morning, members of the House Republican caucus held a Capitol press conference to call on the General Assembly to take up a sweeping package of legislation to tackle the long overdue problem. This is the third such press conference to call for ethics reform in as many weeks.
With public corruption scandals at never-before seen levels in Illinois, lawmakers had an opportunity during the Fall Veto Session to enact meaningful ethics reforms to address glaring instances of public abuse of power. Since January, House Republicans have filed 26 different ethics reform bills. While these robust, common-sense measures languished in the House Rules Committee and were denied consideration, majority party lawmakers filed two watered-down measures in the middle of the night leading into the final day of session, and limited floor action to only these two bills.

The approved measures do nothing to prohibit lawmakers from also serving as paid lobbyists. They do nothing to prevent committee chairpersons from blocking bills his or her campaign donors don’t like. They also do not prevent committee chairpersons to lobby agencies whose budgets they control, or prohibit legislators who resign from office after being arrested on federal corruption charges, from having significant voting power over selecting his or her successor.

House Republicans stood united and voted against adjourning Veto Session, asking that lawmakers remain in Springfield until meaningful ethics reforms were approved and sent to the governor. Members of the Democratic Caucus instead voted to go home without passing anything substantive to improve ethical conduct in the legislature.
Generals gather at the Army of the Potomac Headquarters in Virginia. 
Gettysburg is the most famous battle in American history; and the largest ever fought in the western hemisphere. The small town in south-central Pennsylvania is remembered for the three-day clash of armies in July 1863, and for the November remarks of Abraham Lincoln, quite possibly the greatest Presidential speech ever delivered.

But while its aftermath, in which Illinois’ favorite son spoke of those who gave “the last full measure of devotion,” is well-known, the battle’s origin is not such common knowledge. It began with a group of six Illinois cavalrymen standing in front of an advancing army and setting in motion the events which would turn the tide of the Civil War and save our nation.
Leader Durkin, House Republicans Introduce Sweeping Ethics Reform Package in Response to Federal Investigations. Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin along with members of the House Republican caucus have announced a sweeping ethics reform package to address unacceptable practices brought forth through the ongoing federal investigations.

“These ethics reform bills are common sense, and a direct response to the wrongdoings we have learned from the current federal investigations,” Durkin said. “I am calling on the legislative leaders and the Governor to support these initiatives and begin moving them forward next week so they can become law.”
In the early years of the 20th century, reform movements swept the nation. These movements brought about many of the laws governing safety and working conditions that we take for granted today. Basic workplace safety laws, the Pure Food and Drug Act, prohibitions on child labor and the beginning of the end of the sweatshops; these all came about due to the efforts of reformers during that era.

But sadly, many of these reforms didn’t happen just because of the hard work of those seeking to create a better life for Americans. They were helped along by some of the worst disasters in American history. One of the most notorious is the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York in which more than a hundred workers were killed when fire broke out in a locked sweatshop. Other early-20th century disasters as varied as the Iroquois Theater fire, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the sinking of the Titanic led to dramatic reforms of safety laws throughout the nation and the world. One such disaster which changed Illinois and federal law was the 1909 fire in a coal mine near the small town of Cherry.
Bipartisan Group of Legislators Call for Ethics Reform. Amidst ongoing public corruption investigations entangling multiple layers of Illinois government, Assistant House Minority Leader Grant Wehrli and a group of lawmakers is renewing the call for comprehensive ethics reform. At a Capitol press conference last Monday, the lawmakers said the General Assembly must take swift action to not only enhance Illinois’ current public ethics laws, but also called for the creation of a new task force.