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.
The East Texas town of Jasper has reached an $831,000 settlement in the federal discrimination lawsuit brought by its first black police chief after his 2012 firing.Full Story
Todd Staples' campaign began airing TV and radio ads Tuesday attacking fellow GOP lieutenant governor hopeful Dan Patrick over reports that illegal immigrants were hired to work at sports bars that Patrick owned in the 1980s.Full Story
A week before the March primary, all Republican candidates for lieutenant governor except Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples have dipped into personal financial resources to fill their coffers.
Representatives from 13 Tea Party groups across the state have pledged to stand with Dan Patrick "just as we stood with Ted Cruz in the face of unrelenting attacks from moderates and liberals." A former employee claimed this week that Patrick hired him and three other men while they were in the U.S. illegally in the 1980s.Full Story
How the Texas State Board of Education has handled its purview over curriculum standards has cropped up in three primary races that will likely determine who will join the board in January.
In a new TV ad, lieutenant governor hopeful Todd Staples' campaign frames the March Republican primary as a clear choice between Staples and incumbent David Dewhurst, painting Staples as the candidate who fought to reduce state spending and challenge Obama administration regulations.Full Story
The Dan Patrick campaign on Thursday released a new television spot highlighting the state senator's Christian values. In the 30-second ad, the Houston Republican tells viewers that he is "a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third."Full Story
In a new statewide television ad for his re-election campaign, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst highlights his record of tax breaks and job creation while in office.Full Story
Urging "a more compassionate, understanding, and knowledgeable tone" in discussing immigration issues, state Rep. Jason Villalba has penned an open letter to his GOP colleagues currently locked in a four-way primary race for lieutenant governor.Full Story
The latest web video from the David Dewhurst campaign features an animated recording of a phone call the lieutenant governor made to Sean Hannity's radio show.Full Story
There are few differences between the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor on immigration, but the issue has taken center stage. Heated rhetoric has drawn concern from groups focused on courting Hispanic voters.Full Story
The State Board of Education voted Friday to drop an existing requirement that all students at Texas public schools take algebra II to graduate. It also approved two high-level math courses that students can take as an alternative.
The two leading candidates for governor are making education a talking point in their campaigns. Attorney General Greg Abbott is exploring charter schools and virtual learning, while state Sen. Wendy Davis is focused on teacher recruitment.Full Story
Lawyers representing nearly two-thirds of Texas school districts in a lawsuit against the state argued Tuesday that not only was a 2013 legislative funding boost short term, but that other changes had increased costs for schools.