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.
Take a look back at Faking the Grade, our four-part investigative series on how Texas spent millions of federal dollars on private tutoring for the state's poorest students under a No Child Left Behind policy — and has little to show for it.Full Story
In the second TV ad of his campaign for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick promises to cut property taxes for all Texans and eliminate tax increases for senior citizens.Full Story
Despite the four Republican candidates' attempts to tear one another apart based on nuances in past statements on red-meat issues, the lieutenant governor's race has so far featured fights over style, not substance.Full Story
Job creation during Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's tenure is the emphasis of a web video, featuring a Texas-shaped cake, that was released Monday by his re-election campaign.Full Story
As No Child Left Behind awaits congressional reauthorization, the tutoring industry is energetically pushing federal policymakers to preserve public funding for tutoring. This is the fourth story in a series on the program.
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility announced on Friday that it would back GOP state Sen. Dan Patrick in the race for lieutenant governor because of his record "of advocating for practical, reform-minded policies supported by Texans."Full Story
During an appearance at a Tarrant County Tea Party candidate forum, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called for President Obama to be impeached, a spokesman for his campaign confirmed Monday night.Full Story
Few companies that sprang up in Texas to take advantage of federal funding for tutoring under No Child Left Behind offer a better window into the obstacles to the program’s success than Austin-based Tutors with Computers. This is the third story in a series on the program.Full Story
The lieutenant governor's race heated up Monday when Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson accused state Sen. Dan Patrick of lying about Patterson's stance on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.Full Story
After hundreds of millions in federal dollars were spent on No Child Left Behind tutoring in Texas, it is difficult to find anyone willing to call the program an unqualified success. And there is disagreement on why the program didn't meet expectations. This is the second story in a series on the program.Full Story
A Texas Tribune investigation of a No Child Left Behind tutoring program has uncovered years of inaction by state officials while money flowed to tutoring companies, delivering few academic results. This is the first story in a series on the program.Full Story
Supporters of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst talk about the virtues of their candidate — he's a conservative Christian family man who's not a typical politician — in a new video for his re-election campaign.Full Story
Under a federal waiver that was announced Monday, only the lowest-performing 15 percent of Texas public schools will be subject to a series of federally prescribed interventions.Full Story
A new web video from Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, a candidate for lieutenant governor, features scenes from his campaign's bus tour and urges voters to "stand with Staples," saying that "leadership begins with action."Full Story