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.
A panel of senators voted Thursday to put $1.5 billion in additional public school funding in the state's two-year budget. That includes more money for pre-kindergarten programs, the state's Virtual School Network and Teach for America.Full Story
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told Texas senators on Wednesday "to go big or go home" when it comes to pushing changes to public education policy.Full Story
Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday voiced his support for revamping the state's newly implemented student assessment system.Full Story
Public education advocates at a rally at the Capitol on Saturday accused lawmakers of strangling public schools with out-of-control high-stakes testing and funding cuts. Organizers said about 3,500 people attended.Full Story
Proposals to modify high school graduation requirements have won the support of educators and industry groups. But some worry momentum against high-stakes testing could sweep away progress in improving preparation for college and career.Full Story
More than 100 witnesses signed up to testify before the House Public Education Committee Tuesday on a massive bill restructuring student testing, graduation requirements and the public school accountability system in the state.Full Story
State senators took turns publicly condemning Texas' student assessment system — the implementation of which one lawmaker called a "colossal failure" — at a Tuesday Education Committee meeting.
Legislation creating a new state board to oversee charter school applications and removing limits on the number of state charter contracts was filed Monday by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.Full Story
A scholarship to help students trapped in failing public schools attend another of their choice is near the top of the legislative agenda for top Republican leaders. But Texas has a similar existing program, and it is dramatically underused.Full Story
Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams implored higher education leaders Thursday to engage in discussions about the state’s high school requirements.Full Story
Texas' founders wanted a part-time Legislature with no room for full-time politicians. But paltry state pay means today's lawmakers must hold full-time jobs elsewhere — narrowing the ranks of likely officeholders to those who can afford to do it.Full Story
Former House Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler, now a lobbyist, has taken on publishing and testing giant Pearson as a client, according to recent Ethics Commission reports. The company holds a $468 million contract with the state.Full Story
When the Texas Supreme Court last considered school finance system in 2005, it upheld one of the trial court's findings and overturned another in a 7-to-1 decision. There has been high turnover on the court since that ruling.Full Story
On Monday, a panel of senators questioned Barbara Cargill on her appointment to lead the State Board of Education. If she wins their approval, she will be the first SBOE leader to earn confirmation from the Legislature since 2005.Full Story