Evans: Another school problem is not being discussed

When you have orbited the sun as many times as I have, people sometimes want to tap into the insights you have gathered through the years. Young journalists and newsroom managers ask about the lessons I accumulated from a half-century in the newspaper business. One lesson is quite simple, actually: Keep your eyes and ears open, and never hesitate to ask questions. The lesson came through loud and clear one afternoon in the 1980s when I was an editor on the Des Moines Register’s metro desk. The phones were constantly ringing.

Evans: Libraries should be for all, not just for some

There’s a big birthday coming up in Iowa in about a month.This place we call home — these 55,800 square miles of farm fields, wooded land, and clusters of housing and commerce — joined the Union 175 years ago on Dec. 28.This should be cause for a celebration. But it probably won’t be. We have difficulty agreeing on much of anything these days, it seems — including libraries.The spotlight was on them last week during a committee meeting in the Johnston School District. The topic was whether two novels for teens, “The Hate U Give” and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” should be available in the Johnston High School library for students to read.

Evans: Much to marvel at in the human spirit

You have to marvel at the capacity of the human spirit — especially the ability of people who remain optimistic and upbeat in the face of challenges most of us can’t fathom. Those thoughts were swirling through my noggin during the recent observance of Veterans Day. There were many veterans who came to mind — especially Noel Evans, a member of the Army’s 701st Military Police Battalion. When World War II ended, his uniforms were neatly pressed and were tucked safely away in the family cedar chest, where they remained for years. I found myself remembering two other men whose military service prompts today’s thoughts.

Evans: The wacky extremes with ‘two sideisms’

The requirements for becoming a teacher were always straightforward: Earn a college degree in education, take enough classes in your area of specialty, practice your teaching skills for a semester as a student teacher. Politicians have added a new skill this year in some states: Be a mind reader. That’s what teachers in a Texas school district concluded recently after receiving guidance for how to comply with a law passed this summer by the Texas Legislature and signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The law, known as H.B. 3979, restricts how topics like race, sex, diversity and discrimination are taught and discussed by Texas public school employees and in textbooks and other course materials teachers use. A companion bill, S.B. 3, discourages teachers from addressing current events in their social studies classes.

Evans: These men have eloquent guidance

Richard Deming, the son of a grain elevator worker and grocery store clerk from small-town South Dakota, is a modest, soft-spoken man. He has spent the majority of his adult life with people when they are most vulnerable — when they or loved ones are fighting cancer. Ron Fournier came out of a different background. The son of a Detroit, Mich., cop has spent much of his working life as a big-time political reporter, covering our nation’s political leaders, including several presidents. While you might think the two are as different as Madison, S.D., and the Motor City, they are quite similar in one important way: Each has become an eloquent, soul-searching advocate for keeping life in the proper perspective.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, at a Romney rally in Dubuque. (Photo by Emily Hoerner)

Evans: Neither party is immune from ineptitude

Do the folks in politics think we are asleep? Do they really believe no one is paying attention to what politicians are up to? It’s not surprising if you have acid indigestion these days. A few examples illustrate why I might need a tanker truck of Maalox. SENATE RACE.