Will Idaho Kids be Forced to Read 'Atlas Shrugged?'

Many Libertarians and Tea Party conservatives would be happy at the thought of high school students reading something like Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged as a requirement for their English classes.

However, even the most modest fan of Rand's Objectivist ideology can see the irony in a lawmaker setting a new law forcing children in public schools to read the novel and pass an examination on it.

That is exactly what an Idaho state politician is doing. State Sen. John Goedde has introduced a bill that would enforce the previously mentioned requirements for all secondary students. Though upon closer examination, Goedde's bill has nothing to do with the novel in question at all, but with his own quibble with school boards and teacher unions. Typical stuff when it comes to today's public education. 

“Traditionally in Idaho, the State Board of Education sets graduation requirements in rule,” Goedde says, “They recently repealed a rule dealing with online class requirements and failed to move another rule forward dealing with administrators demonstrating proficiency in evaluating teachers. I felt both were important and wanted to remind them that the legislature could also set graduation standards.”

Goedde said he does not intend to see this requirement through and is simply using Rand's celebrated novel as a vehicle for his message to his state's Board of Education. Goedde says he attempting to to show other ways of adopting high school requirements.

Fellow state Senator Bob Nonini reportedly asked Goedde why he chose the particular novel as his vehicle to which Goedde replied, "That book made my son a Republican."

Recently, Rand's novels and Libertarian-leaning message have found a new audience with the creation and popularity of the Tea Party, the big-screen adaptations by producer John Aglialoro and from having a few fans in high places like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

This recent popularity surge may explain why Goedde chose to use the novel (besides his son wising up after reading it), but it should be clear to any Randist that this entire squabble is only more proof that Rand's vision of the future from Atlas Shrugged is becoming all too real.

Goedde is attempting to fight government with government, bureaucracy with bureaucracy all while children being forced into a public school system devoured by unions and Board of Education requirements, or lack of, get the short end of the stick. Rand probably would've had a good laugh if she could have seen this all play out today. It's just more proof that people need to be more empowered and in control of their futures and the children's rather than relying on government to do anything but squabble and waste tax dollars.

Yaron Brook, the Ayn Rand Institute's executive director, summed it up best when he said that lawmakers should not be making reading requirements for our students.

"However, every student in America would benefit from reading Atlas Shrugged. Not only does the book explain, in economic, political and philosophical terms, the challenges facing this country, but it also shows what's required to restore the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Atlas Shrugged is not a Republican or conservative book, but an American book: a hymn to the ideals of individualism, capitalism, and the free human mind."

Perhaps some of these lawmakers and government bureaucrats should give it a look, too.


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