About Mission High School
Nestled at the foot of Dolores Park, in the heart of San Francisco’s vibrant Mission district, Mission High is the oldest comprehensive public school in San Francisco founded in 1890 and in its present building since 1915.
The diverse student body of 1,080 students come from 50 countries and/or cultural backgrounds and speak more than 25 distinct languages. Approximately 64% are Latinx, 12% African American, 9% White, and 6.5% Asian/Pacific Islanders.
The majority of Mission High students are learning English as a second language (or perhaps as third or fourth language) and qualify for free or reduced lunch. More than 15% are newcomers, having come to the U.S. in the past three years. 17% have individual education plans (IEPs).
Mission High’s Unique Approach – Inside and Out
What makes Mission High unique is the school’s approach to teaching with the principles of anti-racist teaching bolstered by both commitment and concrete practices that make this philosophy a reality. Mission High’s teachers inspire students to rise above the subtle biases of diminished expectations that society often places before them.
Ultimately, Mission High’s goal is to prepare students to graduate fully prepared for college or whatever future path the students choose.
In addition to core classes, Mission offers classes such as “African American Male Identity,” and is among the first to offer Arabic as a foreign language. Mission High has created five Technical Educational Programs (“Pathways”), including its flagship Urban Agriculture Program that covers a wide range of topics including soil science, tending the school’s organic farm, culinary skills, the economics of food production, and marketing.
Outside of class there are more than 100 clubs and activities—among them the Mission High Bears Men’s Basketball team who won the 2017 state championship.
This approach works. For more than 10 years, with the leadership of current Principal Darrell Daniels and former Principals Eric Guthertz and Pirette McKamey, Mission has gone from being labeled as a failing school to a school with an 85% graduation rate with 90% of these graduates continuing on to college or other post-secondary programs.
We invite you to contact us to so you can visit and see this remarkable school for yourself.
Mission High’s Current Challenges
- Budget cuts at the State and local levels
- Federal funding cuts
- “Sun-setting” of other previous sources of funds (>$1M / year)
- Risk of punitive budget cuts
→ Many programs unfunded
- Health services for a highly stressed student community
- Better options for career preparation
- Increased need for remedial and advanced instruction
- Essential unfunded positions
- New STEM programs in areas where the stakes keep rising
- Low income families
- Recent immigrants
- Undocumented immigrants
- LGBTQIA+ students
Mission High School By the Book
Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail it, and the Students and the Teachers who made it Triumph By Kristina Rizga
What motivates students to learn, work hard, and persevere through life’s toughest challenges? Why is it so difficult for the world’s wealthiest and most powerful country to build good schools in every neighborhood?
In MISSION HIGH, Mother Jones reporter Kristina Rizga tells intimate stories from the four years she spent immersed in one of the nation’s most diverse public high schools.
She follows four teachers and their remarkable students as they struggle against closure, resist pressure to focus on test scores, and create some of the most effective classrooms in the country.
What reviewers and experts have to say about this book…
“Excellent… What Rizga learned is worth sharing. Her advice should have been taken by many…”
Diane Ravitch, The New York Review of Books 3/24/16
“…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 critical skills…”
Obama Administration Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
“At her best, Rizga writes with the subtlety and grace of pioneering education writers…Writing teachers as people and professionals, as Rizga expertly does, is strangely a radical act.”
Los Angeles Review of Books 4/10/2016