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.
Thousands of high school seniors who haven't passed the required state exams are close to getting a chance at a diploma anyway under a measure advancing in the Texas Legislature.
Scholarships funded by state business tax credits would help some low-income parents send their children to private schools under a measure tentatively approved by the Texas Senate Monday.Full Story
After a debate that stretched for more than five hours, the Texas House passed a bill allowing the open carry of handguns in public places 96 to 35.Full Story
After a bit of a Democratic gamesmanship shot down a major gun debate before it started, a measure that would allow gun owners with a concealed handgun license to carry their weapons openly in public is back on the House schedule Friday.Full Story
If a public school isn't getting the job done, parents would have greater power to demand changes under legislation passed by the Texas Senate on Wednesday.Full Story
A plan to overhaul the state’s public education funding system from a top House lawmaker received largely favorable reviews from school districts during a marathon legislative hearing that ended late Tuesday night.Full Story
UPDATED: After a technical error caused the Texas House to delay its debate on open carry legislation Tuesday, the legislation is now cleared to go back to the full House floor on Friday.Full Story
In its quest for school choice legislation, the Senate is backing away from traditional vouchers and heading toward a plan that would use donations to fund scholarships for low-income students trying to get out of weak schools.Full Story
Also, the latest maneuverings on repealing the Dream Act as well as rejiggering the funding systems for schools and roads.Full Story
Key early education legislation backed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott overwhelmingly passed the House Wednesday after surviving multiple challenges from Tea Party-backed representatives.Full Story
Most Texas school districts would see increased funding under proposed changes to the state's public education funding system, House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, said Tuesday.
A Tribune analysis of gun laws nationwide shows passing "open carry" legislation would make Texas an outlier among states with large urban populations. Many of the nation's biggest cities are located in states that prohibit it.
The Texas House was poised to take a vote banning private school vouchers as it adopted the state budget Tuesday. But about nine hours into the debate, the lawmaker carrying the measure withdrew it from consideration.Full Story
With more than 350 proposed amendments before then, the Texas House is likely to go well into the evening before getting to a final vote on the $210 billion budget. Early discussions addressed school funding and incentives programs.Full Story