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

Open, Campus Carry Bills Pass Senate Panel

Jason Orsek with Come and Take it America wears a cloth gun holder with a photo of a gun imprinted on it at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 12, 2015, when the Senate Committee on State Affairs heard testimony on gun-related bills.
Jason Orsek with Come and Take it America wears a cloth gun holder with a photo of a gun imprinted on it at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 12, 2015, when the Senate Committee on State Affairs heard testimony on gun-related bills.

A crowd of Second Amendment rights activists, survivors of gun violence, students, concerned parents, and law enforcement officers showed up at the Texas Capitol on Thursday to give lawmakers their views on two high-profile gun bills.

 

 

See Vaccine Exemptions in Texas by School District

The Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County in Fort Worth.
The Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County in Fort Worth.

More than 38,000 Texas students — about 0.75 percent of the state's overall school-age population — had nonmedical exemptions to school immunization laws in the 2013-14 school year, according to state data. Search our table to see the totals for your district or private school.

 

Lawmakers Propose Pre-K Incentive Payment System

Students in Pre-K teacher Josefina Pineda's class sing to practice their language skills at the Dallas Independent School District Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Dallas, Texas.
Students in Pre-K teacher Josefina Pineda's class sing to practice their language skills at the Dallas Independent School District Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Dallas, Texas.

Two lawmakers in the Texas House have presented a plan for a major overhaul of early education in the state. The measure would create an incentive payment system for school districts offering full-day pre-kindergarten programs. 

Open Carry Survives Despite Its Supporters

Activists who support a legislative proposal that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements stand outside the state Capitol on the opening day of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 13, 2015.
Activists who support a legislative proposal that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements stand outside the state Capitol on the opening day of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 13, 2015.

The session has barely begun, and the prospect of a new law allowing Texans to openly carry handguns first appeared to be inevitable, then dead, then alive again. Oddly, it's the idea's supporters who keep scrambling its political fate.

Reps Wear "I'm Poncho" Stickers for Safety, Solidarity

State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, wearing an "I'm Poncho" sticker on Jan. 28, 2015 after fellow Rep. Alfonso "Poncho" Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, was the target of threats and racial slurs from some gun advocates.
State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, wearing an "I'm Poncho" sticker on Jan. 28, 2015 after fellow Rep. Alfonso "Poncho" Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, was the target of threats and racial slurs from some gun advocates.

After state Rep. Poncho Nevárez kicked gun advocates out of his Capitol office, he received death threats. On Wednesday, Texas House members wore "I'm Poncho" stickers to show support for Nevárez.