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

Adding Exemptions, Texas Senate Approves Drone Bill

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi engineering student Adam Ersepke and lab coordinator Jack Edward Esparza prepare for the take off of  the University’s RS-16 unmanned aerial vehicle, otherwise known as a drone, for a test flight over the Kennedy Ranch near Sarita, Texas on January 18, 2013.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi engineering student Adam Ersepke and lab coordinator Jack Edward Esparza prepare for the take off of the University’s RS-16 unmanned aerial vehicle, otherwise known as a drone, for a test flight over the Kennedy Ranch near Sarita, Texas on January 18, 2013.

Police officers, oil and gas pipeline inspectors, news photographers, and movie producers may now all have access to drone footage under certain conditions in language added to legislation banning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as it passed the Texas Senate. 

Texas House Backs Bill Expanding Charter Schools

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, spoke Wednesday as Texas charter school supporters rallied at the Texas Capitol to lobby the Legislature for more funding.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, spoke Wednesday as Texas charter school supporters rallied at the Texas Capitol to lobby the Legislature for more funding.

UPDATED: A measure targeting a Turkish charter school network was added to major legislation from Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick that would increase the number of publicly funded, privately operated schools as it passed the Texas House on Thursday, 105-34.

In Education Reform Debate, One Group Stands Out

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, spoke Wednesday as Texas charter school supporters rallied at the Texas Capitol to lobby the Legislature for more funding.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, spoke Wednesday as Texas charter school supporters rallied at the Texas Capitol to lobby the Legislature for more funding.

Raise Your Hand Texas has been a key player this session, impacting bills like Sen. Dan Patrick's charter school legislation. The advocacy organization's influence in policy negotiations has won it both respect and exasperation in education circles.

Judge: Cheerleaders Can Keep Bible Verses On Banners

As two Kountze football players prepare to play a game on Oct. 5, 2012, one holds a banner with a Bible verse. A Hardin County judge recently ruled that the high school's cheerleaders can continue to display signs with religious messages at football games.
As two Kountze football players prepare to play a game on Oct. 5, 2012, one holds a banner with a Bible verse. A Hardin County judge recently ruled that the high school's cheerleaders can continue to display signs with religious messages at football games.

A state district judge ruled Wednesday in favor of cheerleaders at an East Texas high school in their national headline-grabbing lawsuit to display religious messages during athletic events.

With Bill Pending, School Choice Supporters Rally

Texas charter school children and supporters rally Wednesday at the Texas Capitol to lobby the Legislature for more funding as the 83rd session winds down.
Texas charter school children and supporters rally Wednesday at the Texas Capitol to lobby the Legislature for more funding as the 83rd session winds down.

As major charter school legislation awaits consideration in the House, school choice supporters gathered at a Capitol rally to hear from several lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.

Charter Bill Brings New Players to Education Policy

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen listens to HB5 debate in House on March 26th, 2013. There are currently 165 amendments to the bill and debate is expected to go well into the night
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen listens to HB5 debate in House on March 26th, 2013. There are currently 165 amendments to the bill and debate is expected to go well into the night
Texas Weekly

As lawmakers work on charter school legislation, lobbyists better known for their work in other areas have been showing up regularly at education committee hearings.