About 'prestigious' Cambridge Rindge and Latin School

Thomas Lifson
The word "prestigious" is being attached to the public high school serving Cambridge, Massachusetts in public discussion of Suspect number two, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, and even won a scholarship.

This meme appears to have originated in a blog published in the Weekly Standard, which broke the news of the scholarship and revealed: "Actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon attended the prestigious school, too." From there it has hit two talk radio stations I hear and Fox News.

Nothing against Rindge and Latin, but it is the high school serving anyone who lives in Cambridge. It is a better school than Somerville High, next door in a similarly-sized city, no doubt. When I lived there, residents of Somerville were allowed to pony up a substantial amount of money to have their kids attend the Cambridge public high schools. Rindge and Latin (and especially the Latin part)  has some famous alumni because it serves a city with sizable community of highly educated parents. But if you can afford to acquire lodging in Cambridge, and for all I know maybe even if you are homeless considering how liberal Cambridge is, you can get in.

I suppose that a lot of people have heard of Boston Latin School, which is an exam-only public high school that has produced many famous graduates, and in its heyday was a genuine force in American intellectual life. Boston Latin graduates pointed out that Boston Latin was founded in 1635, and Harvard was founded a year later, obviously to have somewhere for their graduates to attend.

Boston Latin's age and exclusivity give it ample prestige. Cambridge Rindge and Latin has the word "Latin" in its name. That's because in 1977 Cambridge merged its vocational-technical high school, Rindge, with  academic track Cambridge Latin, into an integrated school with "small learning communities."

There is a very prestigious private high school in Cambridge named Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols, and getting in is very hard, not to mention paying for it. I spent 17 years in the Harvard community, nobody I knew would have called Cambridge Latin "prestigious." Sending your kids to BB&N (or boarding school) was the prestigious thing to do. 

We are trying to get a sense of exactly who Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is. I am afraid a somewhat misleading meme is being created. Maybe he was a boy-genius who excelled academically. But maybe not, we don't know yet. Putting it out that he attended a "prestigious" school with "Latin" in its name makes it sound like he got into a competitive entrance school. That's not true.

See also: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's 'hood

The word "prestigious" is being attached to the public high school serving Cambridge, Massachusetts in public discussion of Suspect number two, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, and even won a scholarship.

This meme appears to have originated in a blog published in the Weekly Standard, which broke the news of the scholarship and revealed: "Actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon attended the prestigious school, too." From there it has hit two talk radio stations I hear and Fox News.

Nothing against Rindge and Latin, but it is the high school serving anyone who lives in Cambridge. It is a better school than Somerville High, next door in a similarly-sized city, no doubt. When I lived there, residents of Somerville were allowed to pony up a substantial amount of money to have their kids attend the Cambridge public high schools. Rindge and Latin (and especially the Latin part)  has some famous alumni because it serves a city with sizable community of highly educated parents. But if you can afford to acquire lodging in Cambridge, and for all I know maybe even if you are homeless considering how liberal Cambridge is, you can get in.

I suppose that a lot of people have heard of Boston Latin School, which is an exam-only public high school that has produced many famous graduates, and in its heyday was a genuine force in American intellectual life. Boston Latin graduates pointed out that Boston Latin was founded in 1635, and Harvard was founded a year later, obviously to have somewhere for their graduates to attend.

Boston Latin's age and exclusivity give it ample prestige. Cambridge Rindge and Latin has the word "Latin" in its name. That's because in 1977 Cambridge merged its vocational-technical high school, Rindge, with  academic track Cambridge Latin, into an integrated school with "small learning communities."

There is a very prestigious private high school in Cambridge named Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols, and getting in is very hard, not to mention paying for it. I spent 17 years in the Harvard community, nobody I knew would have called Cambridge Latin "prestigious." Sending your kids to BB&N (or boarding school) was the prestigious thing to do. 

We are trying to get a sense of exactly who Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is. I am afraid a somewhat misleading meme is being created. Maybe he was a boy-genius who excelled academically. But maybe not, we don't know yet. Putting it out that he attended a "prestigious" school with "Latin" in its name makes it sound like he got into a competitive entrance school. That's not true.

See also: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's 'hood