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

Texas School Finance Trial Presses On

Texas Weekly

The massive trial involving more than two-thirds of the state's school districts and most of its charter schools has been under way for two weeks now — and while the evidence will continue to pour in until January, the arguments of all seven parties, including the state, have taken shape.

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.