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

House Approves Key Education Bills

Several Democrats line up at back mic to speak with Rep. Rob Eissler R-The Woodlands while discussing amendments to SB8 on June 16th, 2011
Several Democrats line up at back mic to speak with Rep. Rob Eissler R-The Woodlands while discussing amendments to SB8 on June 16th, 2011

When the Senate passed her two signature education bills, Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, made an effort to keep her colleagues from weighing them down with extra amendments. The lower chamber took a different approach. 

Fiscal Conservatives Frustrated With House Votes

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, moves away from the podium after moving to briefly postpone discussion on SB1 the budget bill on June 9, 2011.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, moves away from the podium after moving to briefly postpone discussion on SB1 the budget bill on June 9, 2011.

Rep. Donna Howard's proposal to direct surplus Rainy Day Fund money to Texas schools for enrollment growth survived to fight another day during debate on the House floor this morning, but not before a Republican attempt to derail it.

After 16 Hours, Texas House Passes Fiscal Bill

State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, listens to testimony during a House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee hearing on April 5, 2011.
State Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, listens to testimony during a House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee hearing on April 5, 2011.

Lengthy debate on a key budget bill featured many retreads of contentious topics from the regular session — but it was Rep. Wayne Christian's revival of his famous "pansexual" amendment around midnight that almost killed the whole thing.

Updated: Teacher Furloughs Fair Game for Special

State Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, discusses the conference committee's actions on school finance in the House chamber on May 27, 2011.
State Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, discusses the conference committee's actions on school finance in the House chamber on May 27, 2011.

Rep. Rob Eissler has filed his mandate relief bill, and while it doesn't lift the class-size ratio, it virtually ensures a school district would recieve a waiver from the requirement upon request — as long as that wouldn't result in more than 25 students in a classroom, a district-wide average of more than 22 students per class, or "negatively affect the education of students."

Liveblog: Make-or-Break Day for the Texas State Budget

State Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, with a copy of the Texas House Practice rule book as he listens to debate on SB1811, the fiscal matters bill, on May 29, 2011.
State Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, with a copy of the Texas House Practice rule book as he listens to debate on SB1811, the fiscal matters bill, on May 29, 2011.

With less than two days left in the legislative session, lawmakers set out to pay for the budget by passing  SB 1811. Without it, the budget doesn't balance and lawmakers will be forced to come back in a special session. It passed in the House, but was undone by a Senate filibuster.