Press Conference by White, August 8, 1985
Education was the top priority of Governor White's administration. In 1983, Governor White appointed Dallas businessman Ross Perot to head up a commission to study public education reform in Texas.
The last significant reform had taken place during Governor Jester's administration in the late 1940s. Much had changed in the ensuing decades. Not only had Texas schools been integrated, but the federal government had assumed a larger role in providing education dollars during the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson. The teaching profession had become much more professional, and many innovative teaching methods had joined the three Rs in the Texas schoolhouse. At the same time, the schools faced new challenges, including continuing to meet federal integration rules, providing bilingual education to Spanish-speaking students, and dealing with a greatly increased student population.
In the 1980s, the public became concerned about declining test scores and literacy rates among Texas schoolchildren. Clearly it was time to take another look at education. The Perot committee issued sweeping recommendations that together became univerally referred to as House Bill 72. Much of the bill dealt with controversial new requirements for teachers, including competency testing and certification. But no provision caused as much stir as the no-pass/no-play provision that barred students from participating in extracurricular activities for six weeks if they failed a class. Texas was the first state to pass such a law. High school football coaches and fans vehemently opposed the new law, but despite the heated opposition, the rule passed and remains in effect to this day.
In this press conference transcript, Governor White outlines his thoughts on no-pass/no-play as it goes into effect at the beginning of the 1985-86 school year.
Press Conference by White, August 8, 1985, Records of Mark White, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.