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 to Apply for No Child Left Behind Waiver

Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams, a former railroad commissioner, is shown at a TribLive event on Jan. 27, 2011.

Texas plans to join the more than 30 states that have already asked for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act's requirements, according to a letter new state Education Commissioner Michael Williams sent school districts Thursday. 

For Some Texas Schools, Demographic Future is Now

Pre-kindergarten students at Escobar Elementary School wait outside their classroom before going to music class.
Pre-kindergarten students at Escobar Elementary School wait outside their classroom before going to music class.

By 2050, nearly two-thirds of Texas public school children will be Hispanic. The demographic shift is already under way in classrooms statewide, where schools work to improve the academic success of the students of the new majority.  

Senate Hearing Tackles Vouchers, School Choice

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, at the "How to Pay for Public Education" panel at The Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 24th 2011.
Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, at the "How to Pay for Public Education" panel at The Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 24th 2011.

In a preview of a likely battle in the upcoming legislative session, state lawmakers on Friday heard testimony on school choice programs, including vouchers that would allow students to use public money to attend private schools. 

Comparing Texas School District Expenses Has Challenges

Because of the complexity of school finance, it’s tempting to turn to per-student spending to understand how well — or how poorly — a district is spending its money. But that approach has its perils.
Because of the complexity of school finance, it’s tempting to turn to per-student spending to understand how well — or how poorly — a district is spending its money. But that approach has its perils.

Because of the complexity of school finance, it’s tempting to turn to per-student spending to understand how well — or how poorly — a district is spending its money. But that approach has its perils.

Summer Camp Focuses on Fight Against Abortion

At Reveal, a camp in Bryan sponsored by Texas Right to Life, teenagers learn to become effective anti-abortion activists.
At Reveal, a camp in Bryan sponsored by Texas Right to Life, teenagers learn to become effective anti-abortion activists.

A two-week summer camp outside of Bryan helps high school students learn how to become effective anti-abortion advocates. Counselors teach campers to adopt a gentler, compassion-based form of persuasion.