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

Judgment Day

Sophomore student Miguel Nava works on a science experiment at the San Juan Idea Public Schools Tuesday morning in San Juan, Texas November 23, 2010.
Sophomore student Miguel Nava works on a science experiment at the San Juan Idea Public Schools Tuesday morning in San Juan, Texas November 23, 2010.
Texas Weekly

There's a day in July that school districts eye with a mixture of anticipation and dread. This year, it's on the 29th, when the Texas Education Agency will publicly release the accountability ratings for the state's more than 1,000 districts.

Texas Education Agency Faces Competing Demands

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott answers questions at TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011
Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott answers questions at TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011

Even as it is coping with deep reductions to its own budget, the Texas Education Agency faces criticism from school districts and lawmakers, although not necessarily for the same reasons — vivid evidence of the pressure on the TEA.

And Then There Were Taxes

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.
Texas Weekly

A week has passed since school districts bracing for the worst at last got what they've been waiting for throughout the legislative session: finality.

How Will It Play?

Tourists enter the empty Senate chamber Wednesday morning as the Texas Senate adjourned sine die the day before, leaving the House with unfinished business on June 29, 2011.
Tourists enter the empty Senate chamber Wednesday morning as the Texas Senate adjourned sine die the day before, leaving the House with unfinished business on June 29, 2011.
Texas Weekly

Lawmakers have officially made their exit from the Pink Building, leaving two bills that will bring major changes to Texas school districts awaiting the governor's signature. Lawmakers, meanwhile, are wondering whether and how the two measures will play in next year's elections.

The Final Push: A Special Session Update

The House chamber below a mostly empty gallery during the final days of the special session on June 27, 2011.
The House chamber below a mostly empty gallery during the final days of the special session on June 27, 2011.

Lawmakers must wrap up the special session on Wednesday, with a few outstanding priorities left to tackle. Here's a rundown of where the Texas Legislature stands going into the second-to-last day of the special session.

Measure Providing Extra Money For Schools Dies

State Rep. Donna Howard (l), D-Austin and State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, go over budget figures in the House on Saturday afternoon May 28, 2011.
State Rep. Donna Howard (l), D-Austin and State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, go over budget figures in the House on Saturday afternoon May 28, 2011.

An amendment from Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, that would have directed surplus money from the Rainy Day Fund to pay for enrollment growth in public schools has perished in conference committee.