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

In SBOE Races, Drama Already Running High

Texas Weekly

With three longtime (and moderate) members stepping down and all 15 members up for re-election because of changes brought about by redistricting, political control over the divisive State Board of Education hangs in the balance. And even though the filing period has yet to begin, there are already signs that these races could get ugly.

Texas Teachers Say Classes Growing, Layoffs Widespread

Texas teachers from Save Texas Schools crowd the hallway outside the House chamber protesting budget cuts on Saturday, May 21, 2011.
Texas teachers from Save Texas Schools crowd the hallway outside the House chamber protesting budget cuts on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

The Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers has released the results of a web survey that reports extensive teacher layoffs, increasing class sizes, and deteriorating work conditions following state budget cuts.

Wind Farms Propel Money Into West Texas Schools

A junior high 6-man football game in Blackwell ISD. The on-site wind turbine can produce up to 40 percent of the school's electricity needs.
A junior high 6-man football game in Blackwell ISD. The on-site wind turbine can produce up to 40 percent of the school's electricity needs.

Energy development capitalizing on the high winds in West Texas has injected sluggish rural communities with new economic lifeblood. The “windfall” has bestowed hundreds of millions of dollars on mostly tiny schools. 

An Agency Left Behind?

Texas Weekly

Before he uttered the now famous "oops" in Thursday's presidential debate, one of the federal agencies Gov. Rick Perry said he wanted to eliminate was the Department of Education. But what exactly would that mean?

Schooling the GOP

Austin High School
Austin High School
Texas Weekly

As the field of candidates shapes up for the March 2012 primaries, a new — at least since last election cycle — breed of GOP hopeful is emerging: the education Republican.

Morton Lawyers: Former DAs' Claims "Wholly Deficient"

Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.
Michael Morton sits beside his mother, Patricia Morton, during an emotional press conference after a judge agreed to release him on personal bond after he spent nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.

Michael Morton's legal team responded today to claims from the exonerated man's original prosecutors that they cannot be forced to testify as part of an inquiry into how Morton was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife.

Online Classes Booming, But With Red Flags

Eagle Scout and high school graduate Will Clarkston, 20, logged in to The Bridge School from his bedroom in Houston on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. He is taking online classes now and planning to attend community college in the spring.
Eagle Scout and high school graduate Will Clarkston, 20, logged in to The Bridge School from his bedroom in Houston on Tuesday, October 4, 2011. He is taking online classes now and planning to attend community college in the spring.

As the popularity of online learning grows, public schools are grappling with how to most effectively integrate it into their classrooms — and some in the education community worry about the increasing influence of for-profit companies.