Cambridge Public Schools #1 in Massachusetts…

The September 2008 Boston magazine has a cover story on high school education in the Boston area.  Cambridge is #1.. in cost, having spent $24,467 per year per student.  That’s up from $20,637 in 2005.  SAT scores, meanwhile, have fallen from 481 verbal/500 math to 465/468, well below the nationwide average for 2007 of 502/515.  Cambridge has the lowest student-teacher ratio of any school in the state and the most non-teacher staff (100 administrators for the 1541 students).

Brookline is right across the river and has a similar proximity to Boston and density of housing.  They spent $15,098 per student and the average SAT scores were 571/587.

Lincoln-Sudbury, right near Hanscom Field, proves that Gulfstream exhaust is good for learning.  They spent $14,500 per student and the SAT scores were 573/600.  MCAS scores were excellent as well.

A separate article in the same magazine covers the new high school building in Newton, Massachusetts.  The old school building had a flakey HVAC system.  To rectify the problem, the town hired Graham Gund, a prestige architecture firm, and the result is throwing out the old building in favor of the most expensive public school project in the United States.  By the time it opens in 2010 it will have cost more than $200 million.  The Harvard design school graduates at Graham Gund apparently did not read the Massachusetts school guidelines and therefore the classrooms are going to be slightly smaller than the regulatory minimum.  Newton taxpayers are going to be paying for this for the next 30 years via bonds that start out with very small payments but balloon to $10 million/year starting a few years hence (just like a subprime mortgage!).

5 thoughts on “Cambridge Public Schools #1 in Massachusetts…

  1. There’s lies, damn lies and lies with statistics.

    The SAT scores are meaningless. In the better areas (Brookline) the parents are usually supplementing the education.

    The real thing you want to look at is the literacy rate, which started declining as soon as compulsory public education started.

    Nice to hear about Hascom’s school district. I guess I could live near enough to the field… Is there mass transit from Hascom to Cambridge?

  2. Colin: Brookline isn’t any “better” than Cambridge in terms of real estate prices. If anything it is cheaper to live in Brookline. SAT scores are meaningless? Tell that to a kid who is trying to get into a selective college with his 465/468 scores and Cambridge Public High School diploma.

    Is there mass transit from Lincoln to Cambridge? Absolutely. The commuter rail runs from Lincoln’s town center to Porter Square in Cambridge, and then on into Boston’s North Station, about 16 times each weekday. It is about a 30-minute ride on the train.

    From Hanscom Field per se to Cambridge there is an MBTA bus that runs to the Alewife Red Line station.

  3. My children go to school in Brookline and I teach in Cambridge. While there is a huge effort in both schools for high academics the bottom line is the children walk in the doors differently. The children in Brookline for the most part come from well-educated parents, not first generation Americans and are much wealthier. The kids go to afterschool programs, lessons and activities. They read better are able to compute better and reason better. The few students in Brookline that need assistance get the assistance and are in the minority. By the time the students get to middle school, they act and look like scholars. In one of the schools in Cambridge I work in, the students spend the majority of the time attempting to distract one another. The children by first grade are reading at overall a one to two year higher level than the children in Brookline–the actual education in Cambridge is excellent. The instruction thorough and more well-rounded for students who are struggling. The project learning much better in Brookline but the basics are better monitored and taught in Cambridge. The difference is the children coming in. Two well educated parents move to Brookline and pay the exhorbitant mortgages. Two well educated parents who move to Cambridge sometimes send their kids to private school or to the few schools in Cambridge with “good reputations”. But the difference is the econonomics and education of the parents and therefore the kids and not the education.

  4. The main reason that Cambridge Rindge and Latin spends so much money per student is because it is one of the only high schools in Massachusetts that has an incorporated technical school. The Rindge School of Technical Arts is located right within the CRLS building. We have a fully functioning media arts building right across the street, along with an auto mechanics shop. We have a graphic communications wing equipped with topnotch technology. There is a biotechnology lab on the first floor of the school. The technical school provides an opportunity for students to take regular high school classes while getting a head start in vocational education. It’s an opportunity that very few other schools in Massachusetts can provide for their students.

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