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Memphis Daily News
Move Past Fighting for the Kids’ Sake
Januar 13, 2014
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

There is an African saying that “When elephants fight, only the grass gets trampled.” Since my only encounters with elephants are limited to an occasional trip to the zoo, I did not really get the full impact of the saying until I saw elephants fight on an Animal Planet show.

It didn’t actually look like fighting. It was more like intimidation by sheer weight and size, posturing for the turf they trampled. They were too big to even look down at the damage beneath their feet. It was then that I realized what it meant.

When the “elephants” of society fight, it becomes more about the adult drama than those affected by the issues. The ones overpowered by the weight and size of the elephants are often not noticed or mentioned, even if the outcome of the issue at hand has a direct impact on their lives … like education.
Regardless of how it started, how it ended, or your thoughts on the subject of the new education offerings in our community, it’s time to move on, for the sake of the children. Remember, it was supposed to be all about them in the first place. The dust has settled, the committees formed and disbanded, the system divided, the lawsuits settled, leadership chosen, salaries agreed upon and boards elected. It is time for that new beginning, and to focus on the real stars of this show, the students.

How do we ensure that all children have an opportunity to receive the best education possible, wherever they go to school? Our community made a commitment to the continuous improvement of education in all its forms. Leadership won’t get it right every time; however, if they put the children at the heart of every decision, then they’ll get it right most of the time.

They will retain, or hire and train the best principals and teachers. They will develop plans to provide a safe learning environment that is academically rigorous, and challenges students to be their best and well-prepared for the next level of their education, and for life.

More importantly, they will execute the plans, keeping focused on the goal regardless of the challenges. It doesn’t matter if people throw accolades or tomatoes. In the end, all that matters is being faithful to getting the job done – for the sake of the children.

After a career of almost 40 years as a teacher, principal, and superintendent, and now as a national consultant for education, I have traveled across the country consulting with schools and systems including public, charter, private and faith-based. I have worked with inner-city schools on the East Coast, rural schools in the Midwest, suburban schools on the West Coast and a mission school on a Navajo Reservation in the middle of an Arizona desert.

Success stories in education have one thing in common: Where communities promote positive collaborative relationships, and meaningful partnerships among all schools and systems, instead of potentially destructive competition, then they all succeed – especially the children.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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