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The Neighbor’s Kid tells the story of what twenty-four year-old Philip Brand discovered regarding American education when he drove his car cross-country during the 2008-09 school year visiting two schools in each of forty-nine states. The schools were public and private, religious and secular, urban and rural, typical and unusual. Brand wanted to learn first-hand what students, parents, teachers, and principals think about their elementary and secondary schools and what they expect from education. His principal discovery: When it comes to picking a school parents care most about the kids with whom their own children associate. Not the curriculum, not the teachers, but the other kids. That concern has important consequences for how school districts, states and the federal government set education policy. A second conclusion: Government policymakers cannot set standards of educational “achievement” because true education is intimately tied to the cultural and civic experiences of families and communities.
Philip Brand is the director of EducationWatch, a program of the Capital Research Center that monitors advocacy groups engaged in the debate over school choice and education reform. He is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with degrees in economics and political science.
What They Are Saying:
“Phil Brand’s purpose-driven road trip to schools across America has resulted in a book that is both insightful and delightful. His ground-level descriptions of scores of local schools and their communities illustrate the immense variety in American education. Brand is well suited for this Tocquevillian adventure. He is open and curious, and he can change his mind. From his classroom visits, conversations with educators, and wide-ranging reading he demonstrates the unwisdom of attempting to impose excessive uniformity on America’s schools. Brand shows that education is more than passing tests; it’s also about preserving the fabric of communities.”—William A. Fischel, Dartmouth College, author of Making the Grade: Economic Evolution of American School Districts