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Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire and 1992 Presidential candidate, made his mark on education policy in 1984 by leading a state panel that recommended reforms, including a law that bars failing students from extracurricular activities for six weeks.

And he was not pleased last week when the Texas Senate passed a bill that would modify the no-pass, no-play rule. The change would let students who had failed a course for the first time to be reinstated in clubs or on teams after just three weeks, and allow them to practice or rehearse in the meantime.

"What are our priorities?" Mr. Perot asked in The Dallas Morning News.

"The rest of the world has its head down, and its kids are learning," Mr. Perot said. "Meanwhile, we have make-believe classes for people who don't want to learn."

The hallways of Washington State's public schools may be barer if the legislature cuts back a program that devotes school-construction funds to artwork.

The House voted last month to remove schools from a program that now requires them to spend a small portion--under 1 percent--of their construction dollars on visual art. The Senate has not voted on the measure.

Critics said students need classroom space more than murals or mosaics, and the state could save more than $1.2 million over the next two years.

Some lawmakers who oppose the change said a well-rounded education includes appreciation of the finer things in life.

Thanks to a bright idea Denise Clark had while sitting in traffic three years ago, Florida's schools are about $165,000 richer. If novelty license plates could benefit other causes, they could also help schools, she speculated.

In November, the state began offering a license plate bearing the slogan "Support Education." A $15 surcharge goes to a private nonprofit foundation that benefits the public schools in the car owner's county. Nearly 11,000 plates had been sold statewide by the end of last month.

For example, Dade County's fund had received about $11,000 through February. Its teachers have received 20 mini-grants of $300 to $600 for such things as books exploring other cultures, tutoring, and a butterfly garden.

"We want the money to go where it's going to do the most good," Ms. Clark said, "directly into the classroom."

--Lonnie Harp, Joanna Richardson, & Millicent Lawton

Vol. 14, Issue 29

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