By Jon Funabiki
Today’s homelessness crisis can be traced back to the 1970s when the federal government cut housing projects and welfare programs at the same time that jobs in manufacturing industries vanished, leaving people to “live or die on the streets” of cities like San Francisco.…
When education reporter Kristina Rizga first swept through the double doors at San Francisco’s Mission High School in 2009, she fully expected to see the telltale signs of failure and despair. After all, three-quarters of its students came from poor families, and 38 percent were English language learners from more than 40 countries. They had posted some of the worst test scores in the nation, making Mission High a prime candidate for major restructuring or even closure.
But Rizga discovered something entirely different. Despite these great odds, the students were not only learning, but thriving.
The scar on Russell Contreras’s cheek comes from his high school days, when he tried to help a white classmate escape a pummeling. His school in Houston, Texas, had been integrated in the 1970s, and one unfortunate byproduct was a campus ritual called “white day”—the day that black and Hispanic kids would randomly pick on white classmates and punch them. Thus, for all its good intentions, school desegregation in Houston had backfired in a sad way. While the campus was integrated, there hadn’t been enough attention paid to how the students learned the larger life lesson of how to live, study and work together.