Idaho

Bill requires all Idaho kids to read ‘Atlas Shrugged’

BOISE – Coeur d’Alene Sen. John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.

When Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked Goedde why he chose that particular book, Goedde said to laughter, “That book made my son a Republican.”

Goedde said he doesn’t plan to press forward with the bill, but it was formally introduced in his committee Tuesday on a voice vote. He said he was sending a message to the State Board of Education, because he’s unhappy with its recent move to repeal a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.

“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said after the meeting. “I don’t intend to schedule a hearing on it.”

The 1957 novel has been embraced by libertarians and the tea party movement, in part for its opposition to “statism” and embrace of capitalism, as Rand expressed her philosophy of “objectivism,” focusing on “the morality of rational self-interest.” In recent years, the novel has been touted by conservative commentators including Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

“When I read Atlas Shrugged, and it’s been probably 30 years since I read it, but it certainly gives one a sense of personal responsibility,” Goedde said.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, questioned the choice of the book for a graduation requirement. “We have a wide variety of children who will be trying to graduate and reading and grasping some of these things, and their cultural context may be different,” she said.

Goedde responded, “I don’t plan on moving this forward – it was a statement.”

Nevertheless, as a formally introduced bill, the measure will be read across the desk in the Senate Wednesday morning and will receive a bill number; it will be among the bills posted on the Legislature’s website for the session and preserved in its records.

Before voting to introduce the measure, other Senate Education Committee members joked that they’d like to put forth their own favorite books for consideration.

The bill’s introduction marks a contrast, as Idaho Senate committees have sometimes refused to introduce serious legislation because they felt it wouldn’t pass. An example is last year’s bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation; despite a statewide outpouring of support for the measure, the Senate State Affairs Committee voted along party lines against introducing it.

The State Board of Education repealed the online-class graduation requirement Nov. 19 on a 7-1 vote; state schools Superintendent Tom Luna made the motion, saying, “Proposition 3 was overturned by the voters.”

Proposition 3 called for a laptop computer for every high school student and a new focus on online learning, among other changes. Goedde was the lead Senate sponsor of that legislation, which implemented a major portion of Luna’s “Students Come First” school reform laws.

Those laws, which also included rolling back collective bargaining rights for teachers and imposing a new merit pay system, all were overturned by Idaho voters in November.

Asked about his comment that the Ayn Rand book made his son a Republican, Goedde said after the meeting, “Well, he’s not a practicing Republican. But it certainly made him a conservative.”



There are 116 comments on this story »



Blogs

KCSD: Shoplifters hit local supermarkets

Shoplifters at one local market keep Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office busy. On July 26, 2016 the Sheriff’s Office responded to four separate theft calls at the Hayden Super 1 Foods ...


BLM closes Towell Falls road during fire season

PUBLIC LANDS -- Towell Falls Road in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Spokane District’s Rock Creek management area has been closed to motorized traffic as a fire precaution, officials ...


Explosions in the freezer

Somewhere in the Spokane area, this is going to happen today. 1.) Someone will come inside his or her home, noting that it is hot out there. 2.) That person ...


Labrador, Crapo set meetings around state

1st District Congressman Raul Labrador has launched a “Conversations with the Congressman” tour that he says will hit all 19 counties in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District; he’s in Wallace at ...



Saving for the future

sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.



Sections


Profile

Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801
Newsroom:
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile