Generalities of Distinction: Leadership, Learning, Limitations

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GeneralitiesofDistinction bridges the gap between theory and practice. VanSciver has lived the public education experience for more than six decades as a student, teacher, father, principal, director, superintendent, and professor. That meaningful insight has shaped his perspective on topics such as accountability, the achievement gap, ethics, special education, teacher evaluation, and politics, matters he tackles with a deep richness in this thoughtful look at our nation’s education system. Including scenarios depicting real situations relating to the content, this book exposes the difference between what should be and what is.

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About the Author:

James H. VanSciver labored in public education for nearly 45 years. He has published approximately 130 articles dealing with diverse education topics and made over 130 presentations at state and national conferences and conventions about educational issues. A former state “Superintendent of the Year” he has also published three children’s books, ClosePlayatHome, CarnageofaCurveball, and RunningonEmpty.

Review:

This dedicated educator has a keen sense of how to raise achievement without killing curiosity. He tells stories of both successes and failures, all leading to enlightenment. This is a very unconventional book full of wise thoughts. (Jay Mathews, Washington Post education reporter and columnist, author of Class Struggle)

A very thought provoking, plainly and straight forwardly written, compelling, and timely work by a seasoned, caring, and experienced educator who is passionate about public education. Dr. VanSciver pulls no punches in this work which is a “look in the mirror” for anyone who truly cares about this great nation of ours, what it stands for, where it is headed, and what is needed to readjust the azimuth it is on. What resonates most with me is his call for accountability. Dare to read this and be touched or indicted in some way with making a commitment for promoting a promising future for our public schools. (Craig H. Glassner, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired))

Finally, somebody gets it!!! YES!! YES!! YES!! Dr. VanSciver has such a clear grasp of what is fundamentally right and wrong with public education in this country. Educators will find themselves nodding their heads in agreement as they read what they have wished so often they could voice themselves. He speaks with candor – a rare commodity in this politically correct era. Without apology, he shows the reader exactly what teachers and administrators are facing in every school district in the nation. No sugar coating here! Dr. VanSciver has exposed public education as an ailing entity; yet he offers solutions and hope. His zeal for the business of education is inspiring. Such a refreshing read for those of us working behind the school house doors in America! (Virginia Ann Conover, adjunct professor and practicing special education teacher)

Blunt writing by a highly experienced and deeply committed public school leader on such issues as accountability, the achievement gap, and special education, VanSciver has well-grounded opinions that, in a rational world, would start a hundred conversations about contemporary education. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! He writes about these matters with clarity and provides ideas about visionary educational leadership and the nature of excellence in school management, both indispensable elements for building successful schools! He is a reflective and insightful educator whose commentary on life and our education system demonstrates why we are so lucky to have people like him running our schools. A most worthwhile read. (David C. Berliner, Regents' Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University)

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