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

Something Borrowed, Something Sued

Texas Weekly

The decision that comes from the school finance trial that will begin on Oct. 22 will set the tone for the next round of reforms. But there’s a separate conversation happening outside the courtroom that could be equally instructive — and indicates funding for schools may face challenges not only at the state but the local level.

Faith Meets Football and a Dispute Ensues in East Texas

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.

Kountze has become the latest setting in a string of lawsuits over where students' rights to religious expression end and the constraints on Texas public schools as governmental entities begin, showing the fine line administrators must walk. 

For Some Teachers, Strain Runs Deeper Than Budget Cuts

At Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Keenan Hurley (left), 18, and Roby Attal, 17, react to missing their target during a physics lesson on projectile motion that used Hot Wheels cars.
At Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Keenan Hurley (left), 18, and Roby Attal, 17, react to missing their target during a physics lesson on projectile motion that used Hot Wheels cars.

Some consequences of the Legislature's more than $5 billion budget cut to public schools — like a loss of morale and stress levels in the classroom — aren't easily measured. But the pressure on teachers may have more complex origins.

Public Schools Turn to Parents' Dollars for Support

Students at Austin ISD's Casis Elementary explore the pond in their newly built outdoor classroom.
Students at Austin ISD's Casis Elementary explore the pond in their newly built outdoor classroom.

Parents are opening their pocketbooks to fund everything from outdoor classrooms to extra teaching positions in public schools when state and district money falls short. But the influx of private dollars concerns civil rights advocates who say it only exacerbates existing inequities in the public school system.

El Paso SBOE Candidate Has Little Campaign Presence

State Board of Education member Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, faces a general election challenge from Democrat Martha Dominguez.
State Board of Education member Charlie Garza, R-El Paso, faces a general election challenge from Democrat Martha Dominguez.

El Paso Democrat Martha Dominguez's apparent absence from the campaign trail has prompted her SBOE opponent to call her a "ghost" — and has sparked criticism from members of her own party. But that may not stop her from winning the race.