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Idaho legislator wants Atlas Shrugged on school reading list

Idaho legislator wants Atlas Shrugged on school reading list

We recently posted a story on changing the direction of political dialog in this country, which asked the following question:

How do we get a foothold for conservative ideas in the public schools, and how do we expand that foothold over time?

An Idaho lawmaker may be providing the answer to that question:

State Sen. John Goedde introduced legislation on Tuesday that would require Idaho secondary students to read and pass an examination on the iconic 1957 novel touted by conservatives like Rep. Paul Ryan and Rush Limbaugh.

The lawmaker, though, says the bill is meant more as a statement than an actual proposed policy. Goedde, in a statement to, said media outlets have thus far “totally missed the point” of the bill — he described the bill as a protest to a state Board of Education decision to roll back online class requirements.

“Traditionally in Idaho, the State Board of Education sets graduation requirements in rule,” Goedde wrote in an email Thursday. “They recently repealed a rule dealing with online class requirements and failed to move another rule forward dealing with administrators demonstrating proficiency in evaluating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.”

While it may be more of a protest statement, the approach is one that has merit. “Atlas Shrugged” is one of the touchstones for many involved in conservative citizen activism, such as Left Coast Rebel’s Les Carpenter.

Ayn Rand, the 20th century author, playwright, philosopher, and advocate for individualism, laissez faire capitalism, and a true life sustaining value system is now more relevant than ever.

In this time of unrestrained budget deficits and a steadily rising national debt, burdensome and damaging regulatory controls, an anti business and anti growth mentality, crony capitalism and government subsidies for businesses, a rising tide of altruism, unjustified and unethical military interventions into sovereign states that pose no threat to our national security… America needs more than ever a philosophy and ethics to guide her.

And it’s 180 degrees different than the course being taken in California, which is no longer making it a requirement for students to take algebra. Furthermore, it seems other states may also be adopting this policy.

will no longer require eighth-graders to take algebra — a move that is line with the Common Core standards being adopted by most states, but that may leave students unprepared for college.

With national standards demanding less of students, state and local systems may find Goedde’s proposed legislation an example to follow.


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Schools are not about education. They are about providing jobs for teachers. That’s what one of my professors at Teachers College taught us. That is most certainly true.

Nope. Dumb idea. Much as I love some of Rand’s thinking, some of it has a lot of serious holes. It can be WAY too challenging for many high-schoolers.

MUCH better to have an economics curriculum designed by free-market thinkers. Start with “I, pencil”.

    Sanddog in reply to Ragspierre. | February 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    On my 16th birthday, my mom gave me – We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. It’s never too early to counter the leftist propaganda forced on young people.

      Ragspierre in reply to Sanddog. | February 8, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      And your story shows how atypical your family was.


      Were your people religious? How did they deal with Rand’s hedonism and antipathy to religion?

        Sanddog in reply to Ragspierre. | February 8, 2013 at 11:33 pm

        My parents are both agnostics who raised my brother and I in the Episcopal church because they believed we needed a religious foundation in our youth. As we got older, they encouraged us to question our beliefs but they never displayed any antagonism towards any religious beliefs.

        When it came to Rand’s novels, my Mom was more interested in the ideas expressed than in her personal life. Rand may have been a flawed woman but that doesn’t detract from the concepts of personal responsibility and individualism found in her novels.

What I find ironic about the whole “Legislation as statement, rather than policy” is that Ayn Rand herself would have excoriated the legislator for such a stunt. Proposed laws should not be about “making statements” but rather to limit criminal behavior or to set policy in stone.
“Making a statement” is best done in debate about such laws, not embedded in the law proposal itself.

    Sanddog in reply to Paul. | February 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    If it’s limited to debate on the floor of the legislature, no one but the legislators who are present will ever know it happened.

Oh where to start. That the 2010 Framework for Equity and Transformative Improvement in Education that I pulled off the California Tomorrow website several months ago has self-efficacy, cultural proficiency training, critical reflection, and change agency development as the new purposes of the classroom. That way students can gain credentials at an equitable rate, sharp students do not get ahead, and everyone learns the need for transformative social, economic, and political change.

Or there was President Obama’s admission that the Common Core is actually not about content and is grounded in the sociocultural theories that brought us Whole Language and the math wars in the past.

Or there is the Hewlett Foundation agreeing that CCSSI is just a means to change the type of classroom interactions so there is no more lecturing or other explicit instruction. Oh and to get new measurements of the results of school. What was called alternative assessments in the 90s when they were created to increase the graduation rates.

Or that it’s all just Life Skills of Psychosocial Competence and 21st century skills was just a snappier name.

Basically when you add up Obama and UNESCO’s K-12 and higher ed reforms and pierce through to the real implementation plans, you find a political coup to make sure hardly anyone develops a knowledgeable, independent mind.

It’s all emotion and intuition and false beliefs designed to be the perception filter of daily reality. Stunning levels of duplicity and overt deception involved.

    lightning in reply to Robin. | February 9, 2013 at 8:25 am

    If what you say is accurate, Obama doesn’t want to make us into Euro lite, he wants to turn us into the Middle East (switching the religious for the cultural crud). I am just shocked that California is doing away with 8th grade algebra. How do kids then progress on to the higher math subjects like trig and calculus?

Our children do not need to learn algebra. The Chinese children are learning enough math for both countries.

    Ragspierre in reply to Anchovy. | February 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Yep. Learning the math and science Americans won’t do…

    PLUS, as an added bonus…

    we have a WHOLE generation of waiters and waitresses with advanced degrees in unmarketable trash fields, ready to serve on them.

    Markets can be wicked harsh mistresses…

      Anchovy in reply to Ragspierre. | February 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Of course the greed driven markets are harsh. That’s why we need a caring government to step in and soften reality. To crochet lace around the edges so to speak. To re-adjust outcomes in a way that preserves self esteem and equalizes differences.

      Can I get my hug now, or do I have to wait. I hate waiting. The trouble with instant gratification is that it takes too long.

Wouldn’t they first have to teach them to want to read and then to be able to read?

Of course in Idaho, things may be different than most liberal bastions where sub par students are passed along like a hot potato until they either quit out of boredom, get arrested or shot or graduate not knowing enough to make change.

Personally, it’s not a BAD idea so much as it presumes a lot of things that may not be true or that can be subverted. What liberal teacher will really teach the story the way it’s meant?

They began this march through our schools in the ’60’s as that’s when the first teachers arrived that had been taught progressive/liberal anti-american ideas. I remember a civics teacher who was anti american. Back then he had to be very careful but he still got in trouble because the STUDENTS would rat him out when he went to far. Mostly he made sly innuendoes that could be excused as an exercise in critical thinking and trying to present the other side of an argument. But we all knew what he really was trying to do. That school was in a very conservative area but close enough to large liberal enclaves to give us an example of the real cost of “Progress”.

I personally believe we’ve lost the country for at least 10 years and maybe more. Depends on how things go world wide and whether a new party can be formed that will actually pursue conservative solutions regardless of the State Media. And that’s the main problem, unless the State Media and the liberal progressive infotainment complex can be defeated or countered, we’ll never be the same country again.

These years may turn out to be the point where historians say the Republic was lost.

TrooperJohnSmith | February 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

California dropped Algebra for LBGT Studies, I would presume.

As for reading Atlas Shrugged, it is truly a modern classic. Yes, substitute Atlas for Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies and anything by Hawthorne. Those have seen their day. Time to turn the page. Or in this case, pages.

Even tho the public education system in this country will forever be inadequate and teachers will never be capable of giving kids even a peek at their own potential – there always will be a few students who will enjoy complex concepts. ITo them it’s like eating candy. Jobs and Wozniak only needed some quiet time and shared understanding to create the MAC. Young kids will find their own thrill and satisfaction with achievement they discovered on their own. But I do think algebra will have to be in their back pocket as a gift from their teacher the Internet.

Why I homeschooled my kids. But well, okay then. Some of us need to hire cleaning people and landscape trimmers.

Requiring anyone to read Atlas Shrugged sort of misses the point.

    Ragspierre in reply to Indigo Red. | February 9, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Harking back to my own adolescence…

    if you wanted me to hate something, you compelled me to read it.

    Atypical? I think not…

Henry Hawkins | February 9, 2013 at 9:43 am

I’d suggest A Confederacy Of Dunces.

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