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Rezension: The authors have offered a fresh perspective on the "dilemmas" facing school superintendents who are confronted every day with decisions that impact the day-to-day operations of leading a school district. As a retired superintendent and presently a leadership search consultant for the past sixteen years, I have found that the questions posed by the authors in the book to be thought-provoking and helpful; the immediacy of many of the decisions that superintendents make do not always lend themselves to reflecting on all the options available to them...This book gives superintendents a blueprint and a sounding board for developing strategies that can ease the inevitable pain that comes with decision-making. The personal stories shared by other superintendents captured through some unique interviews should not only help superintendents better understand the dilemmas facing others, but also reassure them that they are not alone - albeit at a job that has many lonely moments. Those who choose to add this invaluable resource to their collection of books on leadership will, no doubt, find themselves referring to it from time to time, and not just through a single reading. -- Vincent J. Coppola, Ed.D., leadership search consultant, Western New York Educational Service Council, SUNY Buffalo, New York This book fills a void in the literature addressing superintendent leadership and the relationship between school superintendents and their boards of education. Dr. Litchka, Dr. Polka, and Dr. Calzi are to be commended for melding theory and practice in this outstanding book. Using real life examples, tied to theoretical frameworks, the authors clearly outline the types of dilemmas current and future superintendents should anticipate when working with their boards of education. The authors help readers navigate the shoals between leadership and management and make it clear boards of education often seek leaders but really want superintendents with managerial skills. In actual fact, superintendents need both skill sets, and this book gives current and aspiring superintendents clues regarding how to "read" their boards of education. This is a "must read" for school administrators. -- John W. Hunt, Ph.D., associate professor of educational leadership, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and former superintendent, Whiteside District #115, Pleasant Plains District #8, and Antioch District #34, Illinois As I read various stories of the book, it wasn't memories of circumstances that came back to my mind - it was the emotions of feeling completely alone as a leader! Making decisions, tough decisions, is the responsibility of the superintendent, and there is rarely one right answer. No matter how sure and confident a superintendent is in making decisions, there are always unintended and unpredictable consequences. In Living on the Horns of Dilemmas, Polka, Litchka, and Calzi capture the complexity and challenges inherent in the decision-making processes that superintendents face. They creatively use case studies that are relevant and real to guide the reader to reflect on the challenges of the superintendency. Few authors can capture the human side of the superintendency with such sensitivity and understanding as with this book. -- Paul M. Hewitt, Ed.D., associate professor of educational leadership, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville This book is a "must read" for practicing school district leaders who often feel very alone as they strive to make a multitude of challenging decisions in a manner that keeps the best interests of their students at the forefront. The authors provide their readers with a thoughtful overview of relevant and practical no-win situations - those "dilemmas" that are virtually certain to occur in the course of any school superintendent's career. They describe dilemmas that may seem far-fetched to a layperson or even to an inexperienced school administrator; however, the truth is that the authors have created a compendium of true-to-life predicaments that are part and parcel of a school leader's day...Readers of this timely and relevant book will definitely be encouraged, even provoked, to reflect on their challenges and then to engage in creative dialogue with professional colleagues about solutions to the dilemmas that they face in the meaningful work that they do for their students. -- Nancy Taddiken, executive coordinator for the lower Hudson, Council of School Superintendents, New York, and former superintendent, Edgemont School District, Scarsdale, New York This book provides honest insight into the day-to-day life of the superintendent. It is important for every aspiring superintendent to deeply understand the challenges of the superintendency before pursuing that first job. Otherwise, like the bull, the responsibilities can pursue and overcome you. In the arena of the superintendency, you're judged daily. What you say must mirror what you do. The moral and ethical issues that face practicing superintendents on a nearly daily basis mentally test them. Those that employ the strategies outlined in this book will survive and thrive in what I believe to be the most impactful occupation on earth. -- C. J. Huff, superintendent, Joplin, Missouri As a leader in education, day in and day out you will have to make decisions - most of them fast, even in a hurry, often without sufficient data on which to lean...This book provides you a cornucopia of valuable insight, helpful advice, and intriguing examples of how to face the many dilemmas of your job. In an equally-measured mix of systemic research and anecdotal evidence, this book analyzes and exemplifies the main dilemmas you will have to confront like a matador with the bull in a Spanish arena...There are no simple solutions, but this book definitely will help you to make better decisions. You still have to keep an adventurous attitude, but as Helen Keller wrote, "Life is either a daring adventure - or nothing." -- Peter Blomert, principal, Monchengladbach, Germany, and chairman, German Green-Institut It's refreshing to have a book on leadership so grounded in practice and, in fact, written by "three wise men" who have "been there and done that". Not only have they lived to tell the tale of the school superintendent, but they're able to add the lens of the university professor, having all taught at that level on educational leadership. For practicing school superintendents, there is a refreshing message here that simplicity isn't bad, clarity can be achieved, and that others share very similar challenges (and rewards). Decision-making is outlined as the heart of the role, with trust and the psychology of trust as key human dimensions that are critical in determining whether important school board decisions are likely to bring about change. Rooted in the reality of the superintendent position, there is a knowledge and understanding that, unfortunately, not all dilemmas have an obvious, immediate, or perhaps any "win-win" outcome. School superintendents will see their reality reflected in these pages through a healthy dose of real-life scenarios, along with the added value of practical and grounding reflections on how to deal with the challenges of the role. Although at times it may feel like one has to be superhuman to be a successful school superintendent, what comes across in these pages is that it is in fact the human aspect of that word that is most important. I highly recommend it! -- W. R. ("Rusty") Hick, director of education, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
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