Mark White, a Democrat who served as the governor of Texas from 1983 to 1987, has died at the age of 77.
During his time in office, White’s most notable achievements came in education reform. In 1984, he signed landmark legislation that included the famous “no-pass, no play” law that said students must pass their classes to be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities.
In a statement Saturday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott said that White devoted his life to making Texas better. Abbott also noted that his relationship with White dated back to when he was a young lawyer in Houston.
“Mark’s impact on Texas will not soon be forgotten, and his legacy will live on through all that he achieved as Governor,” Abbott said.
News of White’s death was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.
White was elected attorney general in 1978, when Bill Clements was elected the first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction. White’s opponent in that AG race was James Baker III, who later became White House chief of staff and U.S. secretary of state.
White and Clements tussled constantly, and White successfully challenged the Republican in 1982 — the last election in which Democratic candidates swept the statewide ticket from top to bottom. In a rematch four years later, Clements won back the Governor’s Mansion.
White tried again in 1990, when Clements was leaving office, and came in third in a rough-and-tumble Democratic primary against state Treasurer Ann Richards and Attorney General Jim Mattox — both of whom had been elected in the same 1982 sweep that made White the state’s 43rd governor. The former governor received less than 20 percent of the primary vote in that race — his last for public office.
As governor, White put together a blue-ribbon panel — chaired by Dallas businessman Ross Perot Sr. — to overhaul the state’s public education system. Resulting education reform legislation included a controversial effort to rate teachers and the “no-pass, no-play” rule.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/05/report-former-gov-mark-white-has-died-77/. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.