Kristina Rizga has been writing about youth and student issues for over a decade, most recently as an education reporter for Mother Jones. Her writing has been published in The Nation, The American Prospect, and Global Post, among other publications. Prior to Mother Jones, Rizga was the executive editor of WireTap, an award-winning political magazine for young adults. She is also co-founder and reporter at the Baltic centre for Investigative Journalism, based in her homeland, Latvia. She lives with her husband Mike Stern in San Francisco.
"This book is a godsend. For years we at 826 Valencia have known how great Mission High is--its students, its teachers, its myriad innovations--and we've told everyone we could. Now Kristina Rizga has put it all together in a highly readable and moving portrait of a school that succeeds despite being often misconstrued or mislabeled or even dismissed. There is joy in the hallways of Mission High and daily academic triumph at Mission High, and this book explains how this extraordinary school gets it done. This book is a crucial primer for anyone wanting to go beyond the simplistic labels and metrics and really understand an urban high school and its highly individual, resilient, eager and brilliant students and educators." --Dave Eggers, co-founder, 826 National and ScholarMatch "Excellent... What Rizga learned is worth sharing...Her advice should have been taken by Booker, Christie, Anderson, Zuckerberg, and the other Newark reformers."----Diane Ravitch, The New York Review of Books "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."--San Francisco Chronicle "Mother Jones education reporter Rizga delivers a firsthand report on a 'failing' school system...this skills-based model represents a shift in thinking that could very well establish a shift in results."--Kirkus Reviews "Recommended for parents, teachers, and administrators concerned with the problems in our educational system and looking for fresh ideas on how to fix it. Rizga is convinced that Mission High has found answers others can learn from, and she makes a compelling argument."--Library Journal "Kristina Rizga writes for those of us weary of trendy ed reform dispensed from on high. Instead, she listens hard to the students and teachers who must deal with their daily consequences. And--with rigor, common sense, and empathy--she tells of the teachers and students confronting shifting tides of reform and profoundly stacked odds, and succeeding. The Mission High that Rizga describes is a beacon, and her deeply textured, heartbreakingly humane book also shines a beautifully clarifying light." --Jeff Chang, author of Who We Be: The Colorization of America and Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation "In Mission High, Kristina Rizga embeds at a San Francisco public school to show the high standards, professionalism--and even love--that belie the easy label of "failing school." A much-needed corrective to an education debate that often fails to ask how students and teachers experience reform on the ground." --Dana Goldstein, author of The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession "A clear-eyed, evidence-based, and wonderfully fresh understanding of what education 'reform' truly means." --Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the The Nation "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.'"--BookPage "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."--Shelf Awareness, Starred Review