Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Among all the hot news and arts action in this week’s issue, you’ll find our new family guide. We do a few of these every year, among the many great guides and other editorial supplements that special projects editor Jeri Chadwell-Singley puts together for us. Each family guide is loosely centered around a theme, and I really like the theme that Jeri came up with for this one: civics.

Civics isn’t emphasized enough in education—probably because it can be politically contentious, what with the entire political ideologies that rely on willful ignorance and emotional manipulation. A critical mind, accustomed to civic engagement, is key for anyone coming of age at this time in this country—or at any other time in any other country, for that matter. It’s a rewarding challenge for parents and other family members to figure out how to engage kids in the political process without stooping to rote memorization or indoctrination.

When Jeri told me that one of the stories in the guide was going to be a story about a little girl who testified at the Nevada Legislature, I was skeptical. That seems like a manipulative thing—using kids to parrot their parents’ beliefs about some emotionally charged issue like abortion. But, fortunately, the issue at question in this case—bilingual education—is ideally suited for testimony from a child.

And I was happy to see that the testifying child was the daughter of an old acquaintance of mine, Terry DeBarger, who I first met at Galena High School back when he was a substitute teacher there, and I was a student. Back then, he gave me one of my favorite compliments I ever received: “I admire you,” he told me, “because you have no shame.”

It was one of the first times that I realized that the quality that was usually getting me in trouble could become an asset if I just learned how to apply it. It was good teaching.