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.
In the first significant exchange of gunfire in the Republican runoff for lieutenant governor, the Dan Patrick campaign has called a new attack ad from David Dewhurst "a string of lies, half truths and a rehash of events from 30 years ago."Full Story
As they traded barbs during a televised debate on Tuesday night, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro covered a range of issues beyond the set topic of immigration policy.Full Story
After questions were raised about language in a policy proposal that appears to call for the biannual testing of pre-kindergarten students, Greg Abbott’s campaign is clarifying his early education plan, saying he is not calling for such tests.
A proposal under consideration by the Texas State Board of Education would allow private foundations to pay for elected officials on the 15-member board to visit out-of-state charter schools whose applications they approve.Full Story
State Sen. Dan Patrick has credited his success to grassroots support. But the Houston Republican's momentum has also been built on lessons learned navigating the old-school politics of Harris County.Full Story
Two of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's top political aides have left his campaign amid internal conflict about the direction of his re-election bid.Full Story
Federal and state officials are in talks to work out a conflict in testing requirements under the state’s new high school graduation standards and federal education law that could mean "double-testing" eighth-graders.Full Story
In their first face-to-face debate ahead of the GOP runoff for lieutenant governor, incumbent David Dewhurst and challenger Dan Patrick on Friday exchanged blows over character and commitment to conservative legislative priorities.Full Story
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro have finalized plans to face-off over immigration policy and border security on April 15.Full Story
After refusing to participate in a closed-door debate in the Houston area on Tuesday, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick will miss a chance Thursday to publicly face his May runoff opponent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst because of a scheduling conflict. But the pair will appear together at a forum in Kerrville Friday.Full Story
UPDATED: A day before he is set to face incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Republican runoff race's first debate in Houston, state Sen. Dan Patrick called on its organizers to open the forum to news outlets.Full Story
As six charter schools face automatic closure under a new Texas law, the state is facing questions over the guidelines used to decide which schools to close.Full Story
Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples offered differing takes on Tuesday on how the May runoff between their former lieutenant governor primary opponents — Dan Patrick and incumbent David Dewhurst — might turn out.Full Story