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

Reducing School Tests Draws Support in Hearing

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock R-Killeen gives testimony during a public education committee hearing on February 19th, 2013.
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock R-Killeen gives testimony during a public education committee hearing on February 19th, 2013.

More than 100 witnesses signed up to testify before the House Public Education Committee Tuesday on a massive bill restructuring student testing, graduation requirements and the public school accountability system in the state.

Texas Senators Slam State's Testing Regime

Airplane buzzed over the Capitol during the lunch hour with banner from the Texas Association of Business asking "Is 37 % correct on algebra too hard?"
Airplane buzzed over the Capitol during the lunch hour with banner from the Texas Association of Business asking "Is 37 % correct on algebra too hard?"

State senators took turns publicly condemning Texas' student assessment system — the implementation of which one lawmaker called a "colossal failure" —  at a Tuesday Education Committee meeting.

 

Senators to Vote on Education Board Leader's Nomination

Educator Barbara Cargill answers a question from Sen Kirk Watson, D-Austin, at the Senate Nominations Committee meeting Feb. 11, 2013.
Educator Barbara Cargill answers a question from Sen Kirk Watson, D-Austin, at the Senate Nominations Committee meeting Feb. 11, 2013.

On Monday, a panel of senators questioned Barbara Cargill on her appointment to lead the State Board of Education. If she wins their approval, she will be the first SBOE leader to earn confirmation from the Legislature since 2005.

Updated: School Finance Ruling Favors Districts

Attorneys representing Texas school districts congratulated each other after a judge ruled on Feb. 4, 2013, that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.
Attorneys representing Texas school districts congratulated each other after a judge ruled on Feb. 4, 2013, that the state's school finance system was unconstitutional.

In a decision sure to be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, state district Judge John Dietz ruled Monday in favor of more than 600 school districts on all of their major claims against the state.

Rick Perry To SBOE: More Charters, Career/Tech Courses

Governor Rick Perry offers words of advice to new and veteran House members during a speech on the opening of the 83rd Legislative Session on January 8, 2013
Governor Rick Perry offers words of advice to new and veteran House members during a speech on the opening of the 83rd Legislative Session on January 8, 2013

Gov. Rick Perry's brief remarks at the State Board of Education on Friday echoed his State of the State address, where he called for the creation of more charter schools and the expansion of career and technical courses for high school students.

Proposed Charter School Would Focus on Adult Students

Rachel Bristow, a caseworker for Goodwill's GED program, assists 22-year-old Anita Rodriguez, who received her GED in August 2011, with her financial aid application at the Goodwill Resource Center in Austin, Texas.
Rachel Bristow, a caseworker for Goodwill's GED program, assists 22-year-old Anita Rodriguez, who received her GED in August 2011, with her financial aid application at the Goodwill Resource Center in Austin, Texas.

Goodwill Industries hopes to open a charter school in Central Texas to help adults who lack a high school education. But there is an obstacle: The state only provides funding for students under age 26.