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

Patrick and Dewhurst Go From Allies to Opponents

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Dan Patrick in the Senate chamber as political drama unfolds at the Texas Capitol in the last hour of the 83rd Texas Legislature's first special session.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Dan Patrick in the Senate chamber as political drama unfolds at the Texas Capitol in the last hour of the 83rd Texas Legislature's first special session.

When state Sen. Dan Patrick endorsed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid last year, it helped turn the two men from sometime-rivals into allies. But now, Patrick has become Dewhurst’s fiercest critic among the field of candidates hoping to unseat him.

Despite National Spotlight, Davis Faces Fight in Texas

Senator Wendy Davis goes to Haranbee Festival in Fort Worth to encourage voters, after sending out her volunteers for Walk for Wendy, on October 6, 2012.
Senator Wendy Davis goes to Haranbee Festival in Fort Worth to encourage voters, after sending out her volunteers for Walk for Wendy, on October 6, 2012.

Wendy Davis came off the Senate floor early Wednesday as the national Democratic Party's newest star. But what effect her 11-hour filibuster to stop abortion legislation will have on her political prospects in Texas is an open question.

Re-examining High School's Senior Year to Benefit Pre-K

Pre-K students in Josefina Pineda's classroom do the hokey-pokey at the Dallas Independent School District elementary school, Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Dallas, Texas.
Pre-K students in Josefina Pineda's classroom do the hokey-pokey at the Dallas Independent School District elementary school, Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Dallas, Texas.

With the help of a new law, the Dallas Independent School District is designing a program that will funnel money saved when students graduate early into expanding pre-kindergarten offerings.  

Texas School Finance Trial Goes for Round Two

After a trial that lasted more than three months, Judge John Dietz ruled in February that the state's school finance system is unconstitutional.
After a trial that lasted more than three months, Judge John Dietz ruled in February that the state's school finance system is unconstitutional.

After hearing brief arguments on whether to reopen evidence in the school finance case because of laws passed during the legislative session, state district court Judge John Dietz announced Wednesday that a new, six-week trial will begin in January.

"Merry Christmas" Officially Okay in Texas Public Schools

Gov. Rick Perry signs House Bill 308 which allows public school students and staff to use traditional holiday greetings and display religious symbols on school property. He was joined by bill author Rep. Dwayne Bohac R-Houston, Bahac's  son Reagan, Sen. Robert Nichols as well as several Santa's, Rabbi Zev Johnson and cheerleaders from Kountze High School - June 13, 2013.
Gov. Rick Perry signs House Bill 308 which allows public school students and staff to use traditional holiday greetings and display religious symbols on school property. He was joined by bill author Rep. Dwayne Bohac R-Houston, Bahac's son Reagan, Sen. Robert Nichols as well as several Santa's, Rabbi Zev Johnson and cheerleaders from Kountze High School - June 13, 2013.

Flanked by high school cheerleaders, a rabbi and an off-duty SantaGov. Rick Perry ceremonially signed legislation Thursday clarifying that school districts can acknowledge traditional winter celebrations. 

Whatever Became of That School Finance Ruling?

Judge John Dietz in his courtroom before he ruled that school finance system unconstitutional on February 4th, 2013
Judge John Dietz in his courtroom before he ruled that school finance system unconstitutional on February 4th, 2013
Texas Weekly

It’s now June, and there is still no final decision in the sweeping lawsuit involving more than two-thirds of Texas school districts that arose after the Legislature eliminated roughly $5.4 billion from state public education funding in 2011.