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 Takes the Lead on Abbott's Pre-K Charge

Teacher Silvia Corado works with students in her pre-kindergarten class as they learn syllables and word identification, part of the Summer Bilingual Academy at Wilson Elementary School in San Antonio.
Teacher Silvia Corado works with students in her pre-kindergarten class as they learn syllables and word identification, part of the Summer Bilingual Academy at Wilson Elementary School in San Antonio.

A week after Gov. Greg Abbott put early education reform on the legislative fast track, top House lawmakers announced Thursday what is likely to become the major pre-kindergarten bill of the session.

Texas Senate Leaders Propose $4.6 Billion in Tax Breaks

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announces the filing of SB1 with a series of property and business tax cuts for Texans on Feb. 24, 2015.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announces the filing of SB1 with a series of property and business tax cuts for Texans on Feb. 24, 2015.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has announced a slate of bills he says will provide lasting tax relief to businesses and homeowners in Texas — to the tune of $4.6 billion. But there are signs he could face some opposition within his own party. 

Open, Campus Carry Bills Pass Senate Panel

Jason Orsek with Come and Take it America wears a cloth gun holder with a photo of a gun imprinted on it at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 12, 2015, when the Senate Committee on State Affairs heard testimony on gun-related bills.
Jason Orsek with Come and Take it America wears a cloth gun holder with a photo of a gun imprinted on it at the Texas Capitol on Feb. 12, 2015, when the Senate Committee on State Affairs heard testimony on gun-related bills.

A crowd of Second Amendment rights activists, survivors of gun violence, students, concerned parents, and law enforcement officers showed up at the Texas Capitol on Thursday to give lawmakers their views on two high-profile gun bills.

 

 

See Vaccine Exemptions in Texas by School District

The Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County in Fort Worth.
The Immunization Collaboration of Tarrant County in Fort Worth.

More than 38,000 Texas students — about 0.75 percent of the state's overall school-age population — had nonmedical exemptions to school immunization laws in the 2013-14 school year, according to state data. Search our table to see the totals for your district or private school.

 

Lawmakers Propose Pre-K Incentive Payment System

Students in Pre-K teacher Josefina Pineda's class sing to practice their language skills at the Dallas Independent School District Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Dallas, Texas.
Students in Pre-K teacher Josefina Pineda's class sing to practice their language skills at the Dallas Independent School District Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Dallas, Texas.

Two lawmakers in the Texas House have presented a plan for a major overhaul of early education in the state. The measure would create an incentive payment system for school districts offering full-day pre-kindergarten programs.