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

Academic Gains Slowing; No Consensus on Why

Texas' improvement on national academic measures has begun to stall in recent years. In 2013, for the first time in 15 years, math and reading scores went down or stayed the same for black and Hispanic students in both fourth and eighth grades. The scores also went down for Anglo students in some areas.
Texas' improvement on national academic measures has begun to stall in recent years. In 2013, for the first time in 15 years, math and reading scores went down or stayed the same for black and Hispanic students in both fourth and eighth grades. The scores also went down for Anglo students in some areas.

Over the last decade, Texas students have made steady progress on a number of academic measures. But in recent years, that improvement has begun to stall.  

TEA Chief Circumvents State Board Charter School Veto

Parents look over books and ask questions about curriculum during a parent information session for the new Great Hearts Monte Vista Charter School to open in San Antonio at Temple Beth-El, October 29, 2013.
Parents look over books and ask questions about curriculum during a parent information session for the new Great Hearts Monte Vista Charter School to open in San Antonio at Temple Beth-El, October 29, 2013.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams has effectively overruled a vote by the State Board of Education to deny an Arizona-based charter school's expansion into the Dallas area.

In Texas, Conservative Candidates Ride Out Hard Hits

Dan Patrick (l) in Salado, Tex., and David Dewhurst in Austin.
Dan Patrick (l) in Salado, Tex., and David Dewhurst in Austin.

In three statewide Republican runoff races, candidates who have aligned themselves to the right of their opponents are poised to capture the party's nomination despite fielding significant blows from their opponents, including forays into mental health records from three decades ago and a potentially disqualifying violation of state securities law.  

Dewhurst Addresses Questions on Patrick's Medical Records

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst addresses the media in the parking lot of an Austin HEB before voting early in the 2014 runoffs, May 19, 2014.
Candidate for Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst addresses the media in the parking lot of an Austin HEB before voting early in the 2014 runoffs, May 19, 2014.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst reiterated Monday that his campaign was not responsible for the release of GOP runoff opponent Dan Patrick’s medical records, though he stopped short of saying the information was irrelevant.

Report: Patrick Treated for Depression in 1980s

Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, speaks with editor Evan Smith at TribLive on September 19, 2013.
Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, speaks with editor Evan Smith at TribLive on September 19, 2013.

Reports of a state senator’s 1980s treatment for depression and exhaustion became an issue in the lieutenant governor’s race late Thursday, when the Quorum Report, a political newsletter, unearthed court papers detailing Dan Patrick’s medical history.