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

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.

Senators Grill TEA Chief on Testing, School Funding

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.

In a hearing on Wednesday, senators probed Michael Williams, the new head of the Texas Education Agency, on student assessments and funding for remedial tutoring.

Study Sought on Effect of Possible Federal Funding Cuts

Republican State Reps. (l to r) Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen; James White, R-Woodville, Bryan Hughes, R-Marshall,; and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, work on HB4 budget amendments on March 31, 2011.
Republican State Reps. (l to r) Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen; James White, R-Woodville, Bryan Hughes, R-Marshall,; and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, work on HB4 budget amendments on March 31, 2011.

State Rep. James White, R-Hillister, has filed legislation that would require the state to study the effects of cutting financial ties with the federal government. The bill is not intended as a call for secession, White said.