Texas lawmakers weren’t always so timid. In 1984, Ross Perot led them in an education revolution


by Dave Lieber at  dallasnews.com

on Oct 8, 2021

All these decades later, when you look back at what was accomplished in the summer of 1984, it’s quite stunning. The Texas Legislature passed a landmark education overhaul. That wouldn’t happen today.

Our modern leaders now go through the motions of a similar 30-day summertime special session. But there are no big ideas coming out of it, no mass of problem solving over complexities throttling the progress of Texas. Yet quite the opposite occurred in 1984.

The Texas Legislature wasn’t always afraid of its shadow, unable to solve longstanding problems in the modern era like electricity failures, social inequities and property tax abuses.

In 1984, state lawmakers voted major changes in public schools, many of which remain in force today: the creation of pre-kindergarten programs, small teacher-to-student class sizes in elementary schools, ramping up standardized testing and, of course, the notorious no pass/no play rule.

What makes this saga particularly interesting is that the life force who made it happen wasn’t even an elected official. He was a businessman who knew how to get things done. Who am I talking about?

Ross Perot Sr.

Perot, still eight years away from running for president, was the creator of innovative Electronic Data Systems, the battler of General Motors’ inefficiencies and the rescuer of employees held hostage in Iran. It seemed like there was nothing he couldn’t do, and this escapade proves that in full.