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.
State District Court Judge John Dietz will hear new evidence in the sweeping school finance trial as he considers the effects of changes made during the recent legislative session.
It’s now June, and there is still no final decision in the sweeping lawsuit involving more than two-thirds of Texas school districts that arose after the Legislature eliminated roughly $5.4 billion from state public education funding in 2011.Full Story
The state's decision to stop using CSCOPE is a victory for activists who say the lesson plans advanced an anti-American agenda. But small rural districts that relied on it say they'll now have to spend scarce funds on new materials.Full Story
Two major education bills — Senate Bill 2, which expands the state's charter school system, and House Bill 5, which changes high school testing and graduation requirements — are headed to the governor's desk.
The budget that awaits the final approval of the 83rd Legislature — and Gov. Rick Perry — adds about $3.4 billion back to public schools from the $5.4 billion lawmakers cut in 2011. Explore how your school district fares under Senate Bill 1.Full Story
Whether they have a longstanding interest or are branching into new territory, some of the state's top political donors advocate for education issues. Use our interactive to track contributions to lawmakers who make decisions affecting Texas schools.Full Story
After two days of deliberations that culminated Thursday evening with a closed-door meeting with Capitol lobbyists and staff from the governor's office, it appears leaders in the House and Senate have reached a deal on two high-priority education bills.Full Story
UPDATED: Sen. Royce West's proposal for a special statewide school district to manage underperforming campuses will have to find another lifeboat. The Dallas Democrat has removed the bill from the legislation he had attached it to after it died in the House.Full Story
The next four days will probably be the most critical period in determining the fate of the session's major education bills, which address standardized testing and curriculum requirements, as well as charter school expansion.
Elementary and middle school students will take fewer standardized exams under legislation approved by the state Senate on Tuesday — if Texas can get a waiver from the federal government.
Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick announced on Monday that CSCOPE, the state's curriculum delivery system, would no longer offer lesson plans to Texas school districts.Full Story
Police officers, oil and gas pipeline inspectors, news photographers, and movie producers may now all have access to drone footage under certain conditions in language added to legislation banning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as it passed the Texas Senate.Full Story
UPDATED: A measure targeting a Turkish charter school network was added to major legislation from Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick that would increase the number of publicly funded, privately operated schools as it passed the Texas House on Thursday, 105-34.Full Story