State Representative Jeff Shipley of Iowa has just introduced a bill (House File 194) that is both brief and excellent:

An Act directing that students be required to read and demonstrate comprehension of excerpts from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book “The Gulag Archipelago” as a condition of high school graduation.

The NAS asked Representative Shipley why he introduced the bill. Shipley said, “I could barely find a high school student or history teacher who could tell me what ‘USSR’ meant.” Shipley added that he was “also getting pretty tired of people waving the hammer and sickle without any clue of the suffering that symbol caused.”

These are both excellent reasons to have high school students read from The Gulag Archipelago, besides its exceptional literary quality. The NAS encourages Iowa residents to get in touch with their representatives to speak in favor of Representative Shipley’s bill.

The NAS also encourages more far-reaching reform of high school graduation requirements. Rep. Shipley’s bill addresses only one symptom of the widespread abandonment of proper history and civics at both the K-12 and college level. The different states need coordinated measures to reform their high school graduation requirements, their public university distribution requirements, and their K-12 teacher certification requirements, so as to teach history and civics seriously. They also need to initiate drastic measures to reduce the numbers of education bureaucrats at both the K-12 and the college level, to improve educational standards, efficiently use tax resources, and to remove another redoubt of political indoctrination.

But Representative Shipley’s bill is an excellent experiment for this larger project. We hope it passes.

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024


Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024


A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024


The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

May 12, 2017


Harvard Prepares to Host All Black Graduation

Is Harvard's all black graduation a benign trend or a step backwards? ...