In some state legislatures and Congress, it has been suggested one means of holding down spending would be to require that when new programs are mandated, budgets for existing ones be pared down. Taxpayers can afford only so much, after all.
Perhaps state legislators should consider a similar strategy for public schools.
A bill approved by the Ohio House of Representatives would require high school students to be taught more about the state and federal constitutions, the Declaration of Independence and other basic documents of government. They would be required to read, and presumably discuss, the documents.
That is an excellent idea, though we join others in wondering why the Bill of Rights was excluded from the legislation.
But critics have another good point: Teachers and students already strain under a mountain of specific curriculum requirements from state and federal governments.
Clearly, there need to be some guidelines, especially in basics such as English, mathematics, science and social studies. But through the years, teachers - and thus, students - have been burdened with a variety of mandates that sometimes should not be viewed as priorities.
On a fairly regular basis, many school districts and states re-examine curriculum requirements. Too often, so politicians can avoid criticism from special interests, they include non-essential studies and activities.
As a result, teachers are unable to concentrate on the really important instruction. Students are bombarded with information. The basics suffer.
Ohio state senators should follow the House's lead and approve the rule requiring more study of basic documents of government. At the same time, they should ask the state Department of Education for suggestions on curriculum mandates that could be eliminated.
It is all about priorities. In an increasingly complex world, public schools should be able to get back to the basics.