Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune

Reporter with The Texas Tribune

Morgan Smith was an editorial intern and columnist at Slate in Washington, D.C., before moving to Austin to enter law school at the University of Texas in 2008. (She has put her degree on hold to join the Tribune's staff.) A native of San Antonio, she has a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College.

Pages

Education
10:35 am
Mon July 25, 2011

For Some, School Ratings Change Increases the Worry

Austin ISD headquarters on W. 6th Street.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

On Friday, the Texas Education Agency will publicly release its annual accountability ratings for the state’s 1,000-plus school districts. School officials always eye this day with nervous anticipation, but this year many are feeling more than a twinge of dread.

This will be the first year the official ratings — which categorize schools as “exemplary,” “recognized,” “acceptable” or “unacceptable” based on academic performance — will not contain the mechanism known as the Texas Projection Measure since it was implemented in 2009.

Read more
Education
12:14 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Keeping Full Day Public Pre-K Alive, With Fees

Photo by NolanPhotog http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpnolan/

The 82nd Legislature delivered a fatal whack to state grants for full-day pre-kindergarten. But some public schools are refusing to let the budgetary machete finish off their early-childhood programs, choosing instead to charge tuition.

The state offers half-day pre-K for children who cannot speak English or are from homeless, low-income, foster or military families. That remains fully financed in the budget, according to the Texas Education Agency. 

Read more
Politics
4:51 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

School Finance Returns to Senate Floor; What Next?

Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

The Senate Finance Committee made quick work of the omnibus fiscal matters bill SB 1 yesterday, kicking it out in the mid-afternoon after several hours of testimony from the usual round of superintendents and school associations.

Read more
Politics
4:58 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

School Finance Deal Running Out of Time

Sen. Florence Shapiro (l), R-Plano, visits with Health & Human Services Committee chairman Sen. Jane Nelson on May 3, 2011
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

he House and Senate must agree on how to distribute the $4 billion reduction in state public education funding by 5 p.m. today, say Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, and Rep. Charlie Geren, R-River Oaks.

"The thing that I'm most concerned about is, if we don't come up with something, what are the schools going to do?" Shapiro asked. "We really are in a very precarious period of time."

After rejecting an initial proposal from the House late last night, the Senate sent a counteroffer back across the dome, which members there are currently considering.

Read more
Politics
4:00 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Senate OKs "Loser Pays"

The Texas Senate passed a so-called "Loser Pays" bill on a unanimous vote Tuesday.
Photo by Erik Reyna/KUT News

The Senate unanimously passed a major tort reform bill today that would allow courts to grant attorneys' fees to prevailing parties under certain circumstances.

Read more
Education
6:19 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

What $7.8 Billion Less Looks Like for Your District

Photo by Ryan Murphy, Morgan Smith and Todd Wiseman

Whether final reductions to the state public education spending end up closer to $7.8 billion or $4 billion, how much districts will individually bear depends on how — or if — the Legislature rethinks the state’s school finance system. 

Read more
Politics
11:08 am
Thu May 12, 2011

What If Texas Doesn't Pass a School Finance Bill?

With time running out, lawmakers still don't have a new public school funding system that would allow billions of dollars in cuts.
Texas Tribune

Nobody wanted to think about it in January. But as the middle of May approaches, with little more than two weeks left of the 82nd legislative session, a growing chorus of voices is asking: What happens if lawmakers can’t agree on school finance reform?

Read more
Politics
5:18 pm
Sat May 7, 2011

Texas House Meltdown Ends in GOP Show of Force

It was a day of procedural maneuvers on the House floor.
Photo Courtesy The Texas Tribune

A day of parliamentary chaos in the House ended with the passage of Gov. Rick Perry’s newest emergency item: a tort reform bill. And a powerful message from Republicans to Democrats: mess with us at your own peril.

Read more
Politics
1:17 pm
Sat May 7, 2011

Parliamentary Deadlock Grips the House Floor

Rep. Chisum and other Republicans try to figure out a way to get some of their priority bills passed in the House.
Photo Courtesy The Texas Tribune

With 38 members missing from House's first Saturday meeting — most of them Republicans — Democrats seized a chance to cause some procedural mischief when they realized only 14 of them would have to walk out to break a quorum.

Read more

Pages