Remembering Mark White, Former Texas Governor and Education Reformer

Our daily roundup of headlines from across the state.

By Becky FogelAugust 7, 2017 11:25 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Former Texas Governor Mark White has died.

White, a Democrat, held the office from 1983 to 1987.

In a 2002 interview with the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, White disagreed with the notion that the Texas governor’s office is weak compared to other branches of state government.

“In comparing it to the constitutional powers of the President of the United States – the president has an army. The Governor of Texas has his own army. The National Guard is subject to the call of the Governor,” White said. “The Governor also has in this state the line item veto which is not permitted to the President of the United States except under very limited circumstances and is something they’ve been wanting for many years at the national level.”

White’s tenure as Texas governor is marked by his work on public education reform.

Those reforms included pay raises and competency tests for teachers, bilingual education, and class size limits for elementary schools. He also signed the landmark “no-pass no-play” rule which barred students from participating in school sports and other extracurricular activities if they were failing a class.

Speaking in 2014, White said he tried to model his education platform on what his mother, a former first-grade teacher, said she experienced in the classroom.

“We tried to make it work for the first grade teacher,” White said. “If you do the job right in the first grade, you’ll never have to teach them their alphabet again. You’ll never have to teach them how to read again, never have to teach them how to spell again.”

White, who suffered for years from kidney cancer, passed away Saturday at his home in Houston. He was 77.

A family spokesperson says a memorial service will be held Wednesday. White’s body will then lie in state at the Texas Capitol Building on Thursday, before burial in the Texas State Cemetery.

You can read more about White’s life at Houston Public Media.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pinning the nation’s problems on Democrats – specifically those leading American cities.

During an interview on Fox Business Network Friday, Lt. Gov. Patrick said people are happy with Republican leadership at the state level.

“Where do we have all our problems in America?” Patrick asked. “Not at the state level run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city council men and women. That’s where you see liberal policies, that’s where you see high taxes. That’s where you see street crime. Look at New York, look at Chicago.”

Patrick made these comments in the midst of the state’s special legislative session, which has seen a number of measures that would limit local control.

His remarks drew responses from Texas mayors – including Austin’s Steve Adler, who cited his city’s low unemployment and crime rates.

Two Texas Boy Scouts, ages sixteen and eighteen, are dead after a boating accident on an East Texas lake on Saturday.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says it appears the teenagers’ boat ran into a powerline and may have electrocuted them.

A third boy, who is 11-years-old is still hospitalized.