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.
Giving both sides time to file briefs and responses will tie up the school finance lawsuit for at least another six months. Then come oral arguments, and the case could easily stretch into next year.Full Story
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.Full Story
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.Full Story
Three different musical acts — along with six cash bars — entertained an estimated 10,000 guests including lawmakers from both parties, legislative staff, Capitol lobbyists and some of the state’s top political donors.Full Story
The companies owned and operated by many of the people Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has appointed to his new advisory council heavily lobby the Legislature and rake in millions of dollars in state contracts.Full Story
Contributions continued to pour into Dan Patrick's campaign even after the Houston Republican won the lieutenant governor's race in November, finance reports show.Full Story
Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick said Thursday he had appointed a 55-member special council made up of business and industry leaders in the state to provide recommendations to lawmakers throughout the legislative session.Full Story
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.
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.
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.Full Story
When he first tried to end the Senate's two-thirds rule eight years ago, Dan Patrick was a neophyte state senator easily brushed aside by tradition-bound colleagues. As lieutenant governor, the odds are a bit more in his favor.Full Story
Five days before the 84th legislative session begins, Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick discussed his ambitious agenda — a lineup that includes tax relief, spending limits and education reform.Full Story
Gun rights advocates will use a 3-D printer to manufacture weapons at the Texas Capitol during an armed rally set for the opening day of the 2015 legislative session.
Protecting Texas' oversight of school classrooms against federal regulation has been the most prominent feature of Gov. Rick Perry’s approach to education.Full Story