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WATCH — ‘They Had to Shake Things Up’: One Mom’s Appreciation for San Antonio ISD’s Commitment to Improving Schools for City’s Most Impoverished Kids

September 30, 2018

Cristina Noriega’s father grew up in one of the poorest zip codes in the United States, where the local high school didn’t expect all of its students to graduate and where going on to college was almost unheard of. Lionel Sosa started out as a sign painter, but then a twist of fate propelled him to a career as a marketing genius who made a fortune and a national name advising Fortune 500 companies and presidential candidates. He was able to send his daughter, Noriega, to Yale University.

Now, both father and daughter are eager for a radical and ambitious plan to dramatically increase the number of impoverished Latino students the San Antonio Independent School District gets to and through college to succeed. For them, the value of creating “diverse-by-design” schools — with the kinds of cutting-edge academic models that usually come with private school tuition — is intensely personal.

Noriega has dreams for her own daughters – and for children growing up in the 78207, where the lack of opportunity her father struggled to overcome persists.

“Of course it’s the poorest children and the lowest-performing that have to wait the longest,” she says, trying and failing to hold back tears. “I mean, you don’t know if it’s going to work. You hope.”

Noriega is grateful that San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez and his leadership team have moved as quickly as possible to end the wait for the city’s most isolated and fragile children. “They did what they had to do,” she says in this moving video. “They had to shake things up big-time.”

Read more about the city, its schools, and the leaders behind a revolutionary integration experiment. (Click here to read the full 74 Special Report)

Video Produced by Heather Martino, Edited by James Fields