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Texas Educators Target 'No-Pass, No-Play' Rule

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Organizations representing secondary-school principals and high-school coaches in Texas have formed political-action committees for the first time in an effort to bring their concern over aspects of recent education-reform legislation--including the controversial "no-pass, no-play" rule--into the political arena.

The new pac's may endorse legislative and gubernatorial candidates in the coming year, according to officials of both the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals and the Texas High School Coaches' Association.

Gov. Mark White, a Democrat, is not expected to win either association's endorsement because of his strong backing of the no-pass, no-play rule, which bars students who receive a failing grade from participating in extracurricular activities for the following six-week grading period.

Asserting his support for the rule on CBS-tv's "Face the Nation" newscast Dec. 22, the Governor said: "This country is in a world competition and we're not in the race in many cases because of a weak educational program among our secondary schools. I want to make certain that we have the highest standards ..."

All three announced Republican gubernatorial candidates--former Gov. William P. Clements Jr., former U.S. Representative Kent Hance, and U.S. Representative Thomas Loeffler--have indicated an interest in modifying the rule, which is now the subject of a suit being heard in state district court in Houston.

'Lack of Responsiveness'

Harold E. Massey, executive director of the 3,500-member principals' association, said his group decided to form a pac because of "the lack of responsiveness by the top political leadership in attempts by the education profession to improve education in Texas."

Mr. Massey added that while the group supports HB 72, the state's 1984 reform law, it is concerned about "inflexible requirements in the law as related to discipline and the career ladder," how reform legislation will affect low-ability students, and the no-pass, no-play rule.

Edward Joseph, executive director of the coaches' association, cited the eligiblity rule and "discipline-management" reforms as issues that prompted his group to form a political-action committee last month.

"We've been disenfranchised from having a voice in education in the state," Mr. Joseph said, noting that the state board of education is no longer an elected body and that few educators were consulted when the reform initiatives were drawn up.

"We need to be involved in the legislative process," he said. The group has not yet decided what specific action it will take to make its positions known, he added.

In a related development, a Fort Worth high-school mathematics teacher who was also a girls' basketball coach resigned last month after an internal investigation found that he had been paid by students in return for awarding them high grades.

The district's school board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Harold Dennis Shannon, a teacher since 1979 at Eastern Hills High School, after hearing evidence that he had sold A's for $100 and B's for $75, according to Joseph Sherrod, director of communications for the district.

Although the no-pass, no-play rule has had a major impact on athletics at Eastern Hills, Mr. Sherrod noted that none of the five students involved in the grade-selling scheme participated in athletic activities.

The Fort Worth board of education has asked the commissioner of education to revoke Mr. Shannon's teaching certificate.

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