Ross Perot’s Impact on Texas Education Went Far Beyond No Pass, No Play to Complete School Overhaul

AUSTIN -- The late Gov. Mark White selected Dallas businessman Ross Perot to build a case for higher salaries for teachers.White ended up getting from Perot much, much more -- a top-to-bottom plan for overhauling Texas public schools.Perot, then a Republican, served as head of a commission on schools named by White after the 1983 Legislature deadlocked on an education funding bill. White, a new Democratic governor, had hoped for such legislation so he could make good on a teacher pay bump he promised in the previous year’s election.“Mark White thought he’d just get a teacher pay raise, but Ross turned it into reforming public schools,” lobbyist Rusty Kelley, one of several Austin insiders whom Perot hired to push through the sweeping overhaul, recalled Tuesday. “It was quite the initiative.”According to former Texas Federation Teachers president John Cole, many Texans mostly remember the Perot-inspired House Bill 72, which passed in spring of 1984, for its "no pass, no play" requirement.Thereafter, students had to have passing grades to play sports such as football or participate in other extracurricular activities."Of all the things that were in there, that 'no pass, no play' was perhaps least consequential of all," recounted Cole, whose union was one of the few educator groups to endorse Perot's package. "Still, it generated a huge amount of controversy -- second only to the test teachers had to pass to keep their teaching certificates."  Continue reading...

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