Iowa Lawmakers seek to make schools safe for gun owners, school libraries free from unpopular ideas, and remove things from school curriculums that were never there

In the words of the late Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but …

the Iowa Legislature has been awfully worried about what books kids are checking out in school libraries. Take it from a teacher, we would do almost anything to get students to take their eyes of their devices and stick them on a book. If you’re worried about kids reading potentially lascivious books, stop by your average middle school library. You’ll find the checkout line one deep in places.

Lawmakers are similarly considering bills that would ban instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten through sixth grade. I’ll let others debate the morality and propriety of this. I can tell you as a middle school English teacher, there is nothing anywhere in the heavy, intensive, and complex curriculum I am required to teach by my district about gender identity or sexual orientation. I believe government works best when it protects us from threats that aren’t really there.

Nor have those issues come up in my classroom yet. I’m still fighting a never-ending battle to get the students to put away their stuffed animals, toys, footballs, basketballs, rubber balls, ball bearings, miniature rubber bands, paper poppers, Rubik’s cubes (now in pyramids!), sacks of candy, bags of spicy chips, and the ever-present distractor of students, smartphones.

Maybe lawmakers could help a teacher out by banning a few of those things from school grounds so that I could get on with explaining the function of conjunctions.

Thank heavens for the brave souls in the Iowa House. They’ve stood up for the much-trampled Second Amendment by passing a bill that would allow those with a permit to carry could keep their guns in their cars on school grounds under certain circumstances.

As we’re often told, the main reason the average person needs to be armed is to defend against a tyrannical government. Where else would you find a more tyrannical government than one that tells teachers what they can talk about and what books they can have in the library?

Ah, but the government is such a depressing topic. Let’s move on to something that really matters — overly chatty satellite radio DJs.

I grew up watching reruns of “WKRP in Cincinnati” and once dreamed of becoming a DJ to the likes of Dr. Johnny Fever, played by the late Howard Hesseman, but these days I wish people would just shut up and play a song.

Monday, one of the DJs on SiriusXM blathered on about how she wasn’t into superhero movies, but she liked Christopher Reeve as Superman, may he rest in peace.

She then bemoaned her unavailability to attend a music festival because it was her daughter’s 13th birthday. The date was also a celebration for her and then she gave some details about the anatomy and difficulty of childbirth.

Good heavens, I haven’t even had my Diet Mountain Dew yet. Just play a song. She did. It was Radiohead. Some days you just can’t change the channel fast enough.

Let’s get optimistic now to close this thing out. Do you know what I’m into? Restoration videos and TV. Habanero’s, the Mexican restaurant near 31st Street and Forest Avenue, often has the Motor Trend Network on one of the TVs. In one show, the garage crew converted a former military ambulance into a camper for a father and his son. Another show, based in Texas, seems to turn everything into monster trucks.

My favorite watches, though, are on YouTube. I’m a fan of this channel called Rescue & Restore. The creator takes old toys that look like garbage and bring them back to life. One video restored a rusted-out DeLorean from the “Back to Future” movies that looked well ready for the landfill.

By the time the restoration job was done, it could have been boxed up and put on the toy shelf.

The best video I saw on this channel was a complete restoration of a 1978 Millennium Falcon toy from the original “Star Wars” toy line.

The video only takes about 16 minutes, but it took me back nearly 45 years.

I wish this YouTuber could do for my knees what he did for the yellowed plastic of the ship that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.

Middle school teacher Daniel P. Finney is a columnist for the Marion County Express.

Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.

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