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

Senate Panel Discusses Scrutiny of Testing Contracts

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, listens after questioning Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, on SB 23 in Senate Education Committee April 9, 2013.
Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, listens after questioning Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, on SB 23 in Senate Education Committee April 9, 2013.

The procedures that led to the state's five-year, $468 million standardized testing contract with Pearson were the focus of a Senate panel's hearing Tuesday on legislation that would change how the state handles future agreements.

 

Senate OKs Electric Rebates From Fund to Assist Poor

State. Sen Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, negotiates with a group of senators, including John Whitmire, D-Houston, on a prison health care measure on April 2, 2013.
State. Sen Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, negotiates with a group of senators, including John Whitmire, D-Houston, on a prison health care measure on April 2, 2013.

All but 10 percent of a nearly $1 billion state fund intended to assist the poor with utility payments would be rebated to electric customers under a measure that preliminarily passed the Texas Senate on Monday.

 

High School Curriculum Bill Headed to Senate Floor

Sen. Dan Patrick R-Houston, listens to debate on SB1380 which relates to placement of video monitoring cameras in certain classrooms were students receive special services on April 4th, 2013
Sen. Dan Patrick R-Houston, listens to debate on SB1380 which relates to placement of video monitoring cameras in certain classrooms were students receive special services on April 4th, 2013

At a hearing Tuesday, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, slammed national media coverage of the Legislature's effort to change high school diploma requirements and reduce high-stakes exams.

Education Chairman Urges Panel to Back "Noble Cause"

Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, explains his stance on SB 23 a school voucher program on April 9, 2013.
Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, explains his stance on SB 23 a school voucher program on April 9, 2013.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, at a Tuesday hearing delivered an impassioned plea in support of the tax credit scholarship plan that is a critical part of the school choice reform package he has pushed this session.

TEA Advisory Panels Didn't Recommend A-F School Ratings

Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams announces at a press conference that he is stripping all authority from the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. The move comes in the wake of a cheating scandal that landed the former superintendent in federal prison.
Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams announces at a press conference that he is stripping all authority from the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. The move comes in the wake of a cheating scandal that landed the former superintendent in federal prison.

Two Texas Education Agency advisory panels opposed a plan to move the state to an A through F school ratings system, a plan that Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced Tuesday.

Williams Certifies Ban on Social Promotion

Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams announces at a press conference that he is stripping all authority from the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. The move comes in the wake of a cheating scandal that landed the former superintendent in federal prison.
Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams announces at a press conference that he is stripping all authority from the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. The move comes in the wake of a cheating scandal that landed the former superintendent in federal prison.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams announced Tuesday that there is enough money in the state education budget allocated to remedial tutoring, which means a ban on social promotion can take affect.