MISSION HIGH

ONE SCHOOL,
HOW EXPERTS TRIED TO FAIL IT,
AND THE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS WHO
MADE IT TRIUMPH

4/10/16 - Review

Mission High in the Los Angeles Review of Books

"At her best, Rizga writes with the subtlety and grace of pioneering education writers Jonathan Kozol and Paul Tough. Her central contribution is undoubtedly to challenge the dominant and dehumanizing definitions of educational success... Writing teachers as people and professionals, as Rizga expertly does, is strangely a radical act."

3/24/16 - Review

The New York Review of Books highlights Mission High along with Dale Russakoff's brilliant The Prize

"Excellent... What Rizga learned is worth sharing. Her advice should have been taken by Cory Booker, Chris Christie, Cami Anderson, Mark Zuckerberg, and the other Newark reformers." - Diane Ravitch

2/25/17
6:00 - 7:30 PM

San Francisco State University
Seven Hills Conference Center, 800 Font Boulevard

Interview with Mission High teachers Pirette McKamey and Robert Roth

We love to romanticize public school teachers and often vilify them, but we rarely ask them what works in education. What does it take to motivate all students to learn, work hard, and persevere through life's toughest challenges? How can educators teach writing and math in ways that are intellectually engaging for all students? What does it take to reduce racial disparities in students' grades and test scores?

Join Kristina Rizga, Mother Jones' education reporter and the author of Mission High, for an engaging conversation with two award-winning San Francisco teachers, Pirette McKamey and Robert Roth, who have been successfully closing achievement gaps in their classrooms for 28 years. Our panel will explore how these remarkable educators developed anti-racist approaches to teaching, built personalized classrooms, and helped other teachers to improve their craft.

Free! Space is limited. RSVP here.

Presented by Mother Jones, the San Francisco State Graduate School of Education Dean's Speaker Series, and the Equity Reporting Project of the Renaissance Journalism.

Parking is very difficult around San Francisco State. We highly suggest taking public transportation or catching a cab. For Muni and bus information, click here.


11/4/15 - Interview

One of my absolute favorite interviews on this book tour: speaking with Emily Richmond of Education Writers Association.

11/19/15 - Interview

Big thank you to Jeff Bryant for an interview in The Progressive!

11/1/15 - Review

Thank you Sunset Magazine for selecting Mission High as your top 10 picks for Holiday presents!

10/29/15 - Interview

Dale Russakoff and I spoke with Francesca Rheannon about the school reform rights and wrongs on the Writer’s Voice podcast and radio show.

10/17/15 - Interview

Really enjoyed speaking with Deborah Kalb about Mission High.

9/25/15

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan discusses my Mission High Los Angeles Times Op-Ed

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan celebrated teacher leadership of Mission High School on his blog.

"... We know that attracting and retaining effective educators in our classrooms is one of the most critical challenges that high-need schools face. We also have seen that when teachers are given the opportunity to lead, with autonomy, time, and a real voice in decision-making, the results can be remarkable and lead to increased learning outcomes for students.

A recent Los Angeles Times article highlighted Mission High School in San Francisco and the impact that the school’s teacher-supported and led initiatives has had on teachers and students. Mission High School has been able to address teacher retention through teacher supports, such as building in time where teachers can plan lessons together and design assessments that measure a broad range of skills critical for students to master.

Teachers also have created action groups where they review data and investigate the root causes of achievement gaps. These groups then create action plans to address the gaps. Graduation rates at Mission High have gone from among the lowest in the district, at 60 percent, to more than 80 percent. In 2013, Mission High’s graduation rate for African-American students was 20 percent higher than the district average.

I’m encouraged to see the progress at Mission High School, the work of teacher leadership in Iowa, and the many projects Teach to Lead has helped to support. The impact of teacher leadership is powerful and we must continue to find ways to support, highlight, and finance these efforts across the county. When teachers are given the opportunity and space to lead, the results are extraordinary. ..."

9/24/15 - INTERVIEW

On WAMC radio discussing Mission High with the host Bob Barrett.

9/24/15 - INTERVIEW

9/22/15 - BOOK READING

City Lights Books - San Francisco, CA

Packed house at City Lights Bookstore! Such engaged, thoughtful audience and really great, tough questions. Got to meet a few former students of Mission High too, including Jose Luis Pavon whom I describe in the history sections. As a freshman at Mission High in 1994, Jose Luis and his classmates organized walkouts to demand more intellectually challenging classes and more Latino and African American history. It was such an honor to have a reading in this historic institution that has shaped American culture and politics for more than 60 years.

9/4/15 - REVIEW

Tacolicious co-owner Sara Deseran reviews Mission High Book

Here is something you are not going to hear every day: parents with five successful Bay Area restaurants who could afford to send their kids to private schools, but chose to enroll their three children in San Francisco's public schools. More than that, they donate a portion of their profits to all public schools, not just the ones their kids attend.

Meet the co-owners of the popular San Francisco restaurant Tacolicious, Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave who came up with a simple idea with a huge impact on public schools. On Monday nights, 15% of the revenue for each of their five restaurants is donated to a local public school, including Mission High where Sara and Joe's son Silas just started his freshman year. All in all, Sara and Joe have raised and donated close to $600,000 to local schools. I am so inspired by how Sara and Joe act out their values every day and I hope that more business and tech companies will follow their lead.

Read more about the Tacolicious School Project and Sara's review of Mission High Book

9/2/15 - INTERVIEW

Photo of Kristina Rizga with Angie Coiro Live at Kepler's Books

8/31/15 - REVIEW

8/28/15 - REVIEW

The Washington Monthly's Best Education Writing of the week includes Mother Jones story about Mission High.

8/27/15 - REVIEW

The Best Books of the Week for the San Francisco Chronicle by indy booksellers.

Green Apple Books pick of the week: "Rizga spent four years embedded at this urban high school, whose student body hails from more than 40 countries and is 75 percent low income, and brings us a surprisingly optimistic report card."

8/24/15 - ARTICLE

"Sorry, I'm Not Taking This Test" in Mother Jones September/October issue.

8/23/15 - ARTICLE

Los Angeles Times publishes Mission High op-ed in their Sunday section. Reprinted by the Chicago Tribune and Las Vegas Review Journal.

Readers React to LA Times op-ed on 8/26/15

8/23/15 - REVIEW AND EXCERPT

Stanford professor of education Larry Cuban reviews Mission High on his blog and excerpts a classroom scene from Chapter 4.

"[Rizga] spent four years–a life time to researchers–at the school. Few researchers or journalists ever spend more than a year in a high school. ..."

8/20/15 - REVIEW

First Review by a Teacher! Jose Luis Vilson reviews Mission High.

"Let me first recommend everyone read Kristina Rizga's Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried To Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph (Nation Books, 2015). ... What sets this book apart from those books is its fascination and attention to the voices of the students, teachers, and principal. The reader is pulled into the lives of the inhabitants of Mission High School in San Francisco, CA, rooting for their uplift, drowning in their frustrations. At some points, the reader forgets that Rizga's narrating the book, letting the understandings of the people she interviews take over her writing. She also comes from a sect of white education journalists who can deftly write about race with a three-dimensional nuance, sans platitude, stereotype, or self-indulgence."

8/19/15 - INTERVIEW

8/18/15 - REVIEW

Shelf-Awareness, Starred Review

"A thoughtful, well-researched account of her time [at Mission High], using it as a case study to explore the problems with education reform in the U.S. ...In clear and cogent prose, Rizga makes a compelling case for allowing schools to direct their own learning. Mission High is both a breath of fresh air and an inspirational, practical model for struggling education communities around the country."

8/11/15 - EVENT

C-SPAN recording of Booksmith Q&A with Lewis Buzbee, the author of Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom.

8/9/15 - INTERVIEW

At KPFA discussing Mission High with the host of the Sunday Show, Philip Maldari.

8/6/15 - EVENT

The world premiere of Mission High Book at the school

Thank you Mission High students, teachers, parents, family and friends for turning Mission High book launch party into one of the best celebrations of my life.

Photos by Akim Aginsky

8/4/15 - INTERVIEW

The host of KALW's Your Call Rose Aguilar interviews Mission High teacher Aimee Riechel and Kristina Rizga

Photo of Kristina Rizga with Rose Aguilar, Aimee Riechel at KALW

8/4/15 - REVIEW

BookPage reviews Mission High

"An intimate look at how an alternative, progressive approach to education works...Accessible and thoroughly researched, Rizga's book covers a brief history of America's education reform and the path to high-stakes testing, and weaves in profiles of Mission's students and faculty. These profiles form the heart of the book, showing students who find community and success (even if not measurable by a multiple-choice test), teachers who provide encouragement, personalized instruction and more meaningful assessments, and a principal who refuses to 'teach to the test.'"

8/4/15 - REVIEW

San Francisco Chronicle reviews Mission High

"Rizga delves deep into what is not often shown or known: what's working. She pulls back the curtain on test scores, painting a vivid picture of what a low-scoring, highly successful school looks like and why test scores shouldn't matter as much as they do."