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

Proposed Charter School Would Focus on Adult Students

Rachel Bristow, a caseworker for Goodwill's GED program, assists 22-year-old Anita Rodriguez, who received her GED in August 2011, with her financial aid application at the Goodwill Resource Center in Austin, Texas.
Rachel Bristow, a caseworker for Goodwill's GED program, assists 22-year-old Anita Rodriguez, who received her GED in August 2011, with her financial aid application at the Goodwill Resource Center in Austin, Texas.

Goodwill Industries hopes to open a charter school in Central Texas to help adults who lack a high school education. But there is an obstacle: The state only provides funding for students under age 26.

Senators Grill TEA Chief on Testing, School Funding

Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams announces at a press conference that he is stripping all authority from the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. The move comes in the wake of a cheating scandal that landed the former superintendent in federal prison.
Texas Education Agency commissioner Michael Williams announces at a press conference that he is stripping all authority from the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. The move comes in the wake of a cheating scandal that landed the former superintendent in federal prison.

In a hearing on Wednesday, senators probed Michael Williams, the new head of the Texas Education Agency, on student assessments and funding for remedial tutoring.

Study Sought on Effect of Possible Federal Funding Cuts

Republican State Reps. (l to r) Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen; James White, R-Woodville, Bryan Hughes, R-Marshall,; and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, work on HB4 budget amendments on March 31, 2011.
Republican State Reps. (l to r) Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen; James White, R-Woodville, Bryan Hughes, R-Marshall,; and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, work on HB4 budget amendments on March 31, 2011.

State Rep. James White, R-Hillister, has filed legislation that would require the state to study the effects of cutting financial ties with the federal government. The bill is not intended as a call for secession, White said.

Land Board to Transfer $300 Million to School Fund

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson discusses Texas historical records that document early immigrants like Davy Crockett and Stephen F. Austin.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson discusses Texas historical records that document early immigrants like Davy Crockett and Stephen F. Austin.

The School Land Board voted Tuesday to release $300 million into the Available School Fund for public schools. The funds had been caught in a standoff between the Legislature and the board, whose members include Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

To Beef Up School Security, Lawmakers Turn to Firearms

Austin Police Officer Cory Ehrler monitors the entrance to Ridgetop Elementary School after classes start on the Monday following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. As the 83rd legislative session approaches, Texas lawmakers are considering making firearms more available to teachers and other school personnel.
Austin Police Officer Cory Ehrler monitors the entrance to Ridgetop Elementary School after classes start on the Monday following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. As the 83rd legislative session approaches, Texas lawmakers are considering making firearms more available to teachers and other school personnel.

Some Texas legislators are emphasizing the need for teachers and other school personnel to have increased access to firearms on campus. Ahead of the 83rd legislative session, bills have been proposed with that mission in mind.