Idaho state senator’s bill would require all high-school kids to read ‘Atlas Shrugged’

An Idaho state senator has proposed legislation that would require every student in the state to read “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn’s Rand’s apparently timeless libertarian classic. Students would also have to pass a test on the book’s contents to graduate from high school, reports The Spokesman-Review.

The lawmaker, Republican John Goedde of Coeur d’Alene, chairs the Idaho state senate’s education committee. He lightheartedly told a fellow senator that he had decided on the 1957 novel because it convinced his son to become a Republican.

“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 told The Spokesman-Review.

Goedde had his bill officially introduced in his committee last week by way of a voice vote. It will get a number. It has been formally read in the Idaho Senate chamber. The bill will also be posted on the Idaho Senate website and a record of it will be available to historians for years to come.

The bill is unlikely to move any further toward becoming law, though. Goedde’s real goal, he told the Spokane broadsheet, was to grab the attention of the state’s board of education. The board is currently in the senator’s political doghouse over local battles concerning online high school courses and the state’s policy for evaluating school principals.

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

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, one of Goedde’s Democratic colleagues, nevertheless suggested that she would oppose the bill.

“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,” Buckner-Webb said.

“Atlas Shrugged,” Rand’s fourth and final novel, explores an increasingly socialist United States in which a small group of very creative and economically productive individuals decide to strike in order to protest the increasing regulatory and tax burden imposed upon them.

As of 2009, more than 7,000,000 copies of the book had been sold by American publishers. This week, the book still ranks #887 on the Amazon Best Sellers list.

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