New Education Book Raises Questions about School Selection, Carpentry

As a young edublogger, I hear from a lot of people and groups with their new education book. Some look more interesting than others, including this one that crossed my desktop today from the Capital Research Center (CRC):

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.

It sounds intriguing. The importance of peers in school selection makes some sense. I can tell you right now there are some kids I’d just as soon not cross paths with in the classroom, on the playground or in the lunch line.

But I don’t know whether I should read the book or not. Mr. Brand — formerly the director of CRC’s Education Watch, essentially a young think-tanker — is now listed on Linked In as working in carpentry. Did the author’s experience with The Neighbor’s Kid somehow inspire him to leave the think tank world for a career in the building trades?

I honestly have no clue. But let’s hope reading the book doesn’t inspire me in the same way. You have no idea how many cuts and bruises I have endured in my young life just from my dad making me “help” him on household repairs and other projects. Meanwhile, no abrasions or lacerations to report from blogging.

The book is probably really good, I’m just saying….