Morgan Smith Reporter

Morgan Smith reports on politics and education for the Tribune, which she joined in November 2009. She writes about the effects of the state budget, school finance reform, accountability and testing in Texas public schools. Her political coverage has included congressional and legislative races, as well as Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which she followed to Iowa and New Hampshire. In 2013, she received a National Education Writers Association award for "Death of a District," a series on school closures. After earning a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College, she moved to Austin in 2008 to enter law school at the University of Texas. A San Antonio native, her work has also appeared in Slate, where she spent a year as an editorial intern in Washington D.C.

Recent Contributions

Open Carry Survives Despite Its Supporters

Activists who support a legislative proposal that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements stand outside the state Capitol on the opening day of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 13, 2015.
Activists who support a legislative proposal that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements stand outside the state Capitol on the opening day of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 13, 2015.

The session has barely begun, and the prospect of a new law allowing Texans to openly carry handguns first appeared to be inevitable, then dead, then alive again. Oddly, it's the idea's supporters who keep scrambling its political fate.

Reps Wear "I'm Poncho" Stickers for Safety, Solidarity

State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, wearing an "I'm Poncho" sticker on Jan. 28, 2015 after fellow Rep. Alfonso "Poncho" Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, was the target of threats and racial slurs from some gun advocates.
State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, wearing an "I'm Poncho" sticker on Jan. 28, 2015 after fellow Rep. Alfonso "Poncho" Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, was the target of threats and racial slurs from some gun advocates.

After state Rep. Poncho Nevárez kicked gun advocates out of his Capitol office, he received death threats. On Wednesday, Texas House members wore "I'm Poncho" stickers to show support for Nevárez.

Patrick Sets Committees; Taylor Gets Education

Then-state Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, is shown on the second-to-last day of the first-called special session during the 82nd Legislature on June 27, 2011. Taylor was elected to the Texas Senate in 2012.
Then-state Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, is shown on the second-to-last day of the first-called special session during the 82nd Legislature on June 27, 2011. Taylor was elected to the Texas Senate in 2012.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's office on Friday announced new committee members. Among the new chairs: State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, who will lead the Senate Education Committee.

Feds Tell Texas to Try Again on Teacher Evaluations

Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams answers a question at TribLive on Jan. 10, 2013.
Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams answers a question at TribLive on Jan. 10, 2013.

Rejecting a proposed Texas educator evaluation system, federal officials raised concerns about the lack of information tying standardized test results to measuring educator performance. The rejection puts the state's No Child Left Behind waiver in danger.

With Change in Procedure, Senate Democrats Lose Clout

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, with State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, sponsor of the resolution that changed Senate voting rules on Jan. 21, 2015.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, with State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, sponsor of the resolution that changed Senate voting rules on Jan. 21, 2015.

With a new lieutenant governor installed for the first time in over a decade Wednesday — and over the cries of Democrats — the Texas Senate voted to break from an almost 70-year tradition intended to encourage compromise among its members.