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

Feds Tell Texas to Try Again on Teacher Evaluations

Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams answers a question at TribLive on Jan. 10, 2013.
Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams answers a question at TribLive on Jan. 10, 2013.

Rejecting a proposed Texas educator evaluation system, federal officials raised concerns about the lack of information tying standardized test results to measuring educator performance. The rejection puts the state's No Child Left Behind waiver in danger.

With Change in Procedure, Senate Democrats Lose Clout

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, with State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, sponsor of the resolution that changed Senate voting rules on Jan. 21, 2015.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, left, with State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, sponsor of the resolution that changed Senate voting rules on Jan. 21, 2015.

With a new lieutenant governor installed for the first time in over a decade Wednesday — and over the cries of Democrats — the Texas Senate voted to break from an almost 70-year tradition intended to encourage compromise among its members.

Gun Rights Activists Cause Stir at Texas Capitol

Senate Sergeant at Arms Rick DeLeon tells a group from Lone Star Gun Rights that they are not allowed in the secure back hall of the Senate on opening day Jan. 13, 2015.
Senate Sergeant at Arms Rick DeLeon tells a group from Lone Star Gun Rights that they are not allowed in the secure back hall of the Senate on opening day Jan. 13, 2015.

The behavior of open-carry advocates trying to drum up votes for a measure repealing handgun licensing requirements prompted one lawmaker to escort them from his office Monday.

Gun Advocates Take Up — and Make — Arms at Texas Capitol

Activists who support a legislative proposal that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements stand outside the state Capitol on the opening day of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 13, 2015.
Activists who support a legislative proposal that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements stand outside the state Capitol on the opening day of the Texas Legislature on Jan. 13, 2015.

As Texas lawmakers convened for the first day of the 2015 legislative session Tuesday, about a dozen activists carrying a variety of firearms gathered in front of the state Capitol to protest gun laws.

 

Education Chairman Calls for School Finance Discussion

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen listens to HB5 debate in House on March 26th, 2013. There are currently 165 amendments to the bill and debate is expected to go well into the night
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen listens to HB5 debate in House on March 26th, 2013. There are currently 165 amendments to the bill and debate is expected to go well into the night

State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, the chairman of the House Public Education Committee, says Texas lawmakers shouldn't wait for the outcome of a sprawling school finance lawsuit to discuss changes to the state's public education funding system.