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Bill requires Idaho students to read Ayn Rand

Wed., Feb. 6, 2013, midnight

‘Atlas Shrugged’ would be required reading

BOISE – A state senator from Coeur d’Alene introduced a bill Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on the book in order to graduate.

Coeur d’Alene Sen. John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, said he chose that particular book, a tea party and libertarian favorite, because it “made my son a Republican.”

The remark was met with laughter, and Goedde acknowledged that he doesn’t plan to press forward with the bill. Rather, he said he wanted to send a message to the Idaho Board of Education. He’s unhappy that the board recently repealed a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.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 of his committee. “I don’t intend to schedule a hearing on it.”

The 1957 novel earned fans in part for its opposition to “statism” and embrace of capitalism. 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.

As a formally introduced bill, the measure will be read across the desk in the Senate this 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.

The State Board of Education repealed the online-class graduation requirement in November after voters overturned Proposition 3, which called for a laptop computer for every high school student and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.

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