By March 20, 2016 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Imagine inviting a group of about 20 friends to your home later today to watch a little NCAA March Madness , including, of course, the University of Oklahoma men’s second round game against Virginia Commonwealth. Go Sooners!

At some point during the game, someone says, “Hey, how ’bout we order some pizza?”

A few people respond enthusiastically, “Yes, that’s a great idea!” Others just nod their heads in approval while a few say “no thanks” or nothing at all.

There will likely be a few in your party who are not fond of pizza and may offer other options, such as Thai/Chinese, chicken wings, hamburgers, nachos, etc. Two or three of your guests may also be vegetarian, vegan or lactose-intolerant.

After debating the various options, the majority decides to go ahead and order pizza. A small group are silently frustrated their preferences were not given more consideration, but choose not to say anything and just go with the group.

The next step will be to decide which restaurant to order from.

There are the old standbys: Pizza Hut, Mazzios, Dominoes, Papa Johns and Little Caesars, to name a few. Some guests may prefer a local and more upscale offering from Andolini’s (my favorite) or Savastano’s.

Five people say “it doesn’t matter to them,” but will be ultimately perturbed with whatever choice the group makes. About half the group really doesn’t care–pizza is pizza!

After about ten minutes of back-and forth discussion, one of your guests, John, suggests Hideaway. The rest of the crowd goes along with this option because he offers to go pick it up.

Next, it’s time to determine individual preferences.

About half of the people say they would prefer the traditional crust; the other half choose thin crust. Four don’t like onions or peppers. Six don’t want black olives yet four of them want mushrooms. Eight like pepperoni, seven prefer sausage or ground beef, seven want ham, five want chicken and three others say, “chicken is gross on pizza.”

Several want veggie style. Most prefer regular marinara sauce while a few others want to try the Alfredo sauce. Three guests demand jalapenos; four don’t mind them, and ten strongly object to including them on their pizza. Miranda says she likes ham but doesn’t want the mandarin oranges on “her side.”

Ashley and Josh ask if they can order pasta instead. Melanie and Jasmine just want a salad. Five people ask if the group wants to add fried mushrooms and cheese sticks to the order. Two say they just want to order a sandwich as they don’t care for Hideaway pizza. There is also a side conversation about whether to ask for extra ranch or marinara dipping sauce.

Four guests offer nothing to the conversation after their initial ideas were dismissed out-of-hand. They have decided in their mind they will just eat something when they get home.

Michael and Nicole decide to run to Sonic for a hamburger.

After thirty minutes of cordial yet sometimes heated conversation, the group reaches semi-consensus, calls Hideaway and places the following order:

  • One large, regular crust, half Big Country, half Little Italy, no onions.
  • One large, thin crust, half Mama Mia Meatball, half Sooner Schooner, extra onions
  • One medium, regular crust, Maui Magic, with no mandarin oranges on half
  • One medium, thin crust, half pepperoni and sausage with marinara sauce, half Paradise Pie with Alfredo sauce.
  • One small veggie pizza, extra olives, on regular crust
  • One small cheese pizza on thin crust
  • One turkey melt sandwich, one Italian sub, one lasagna, two Caesar salads, and order of cheese bread, one Chicken Asian salad, an order of fried mushrooms and one order of fried ravioli.

Despite the challenging process, the vast majority of your guests are content with the final order and are looking forward to the arrival of the food.

It may not be exactly what everyone wanted, or would have ordered themselves, but they understand that with any large group process–even ordering pizza—compromise and consensus building are essential for progress.

However, now that the food has arrived and people are ready to eat, you hear a knock on the door. It is the boorish couple from down the street that most of the other guests were relieved were not there in the first place.

They walk into the dining room and examine the food that the rest of the group had ordered.

After just a few seconds, they complain that the order was not done properly. They criticize those who placed the order for not adequately taking into account the expectations of each guest. They wonder why there are no thick crust offerings and no banana peppers or anchovies.

Even though they arrived late, the couple is upset you did not get their input before placing the final order. Yet, the couple demands that everyone else wait to eat until they are able to order precisely what they want.

Since they were not present for the original pizza ordering process, they have no concept of how challenging it was to obtain everyone’s agreement in the first place.

The rest of your guests are happy and ready to eat. They realize they may not have not gotten their perfect pizza order, but are satisfied because there is something good here for most everyone.

The couple could recognize they are not the pizza experts in the group and defer to the wisdom and judgment of the other guests. Or, they could choose to be difficult by digging in their heels and making everyone else uncomfortable by issuing unnecessary demands.

Most of us are familiar with the excruciating process of ordering pizza (or anything else) for a large group. We also realize the goal is not to get the order perfect for each individual; rather it is to find common ground in order to move the process forward and meet the needs of the majority.

Similarly, twenty months ago, the people of Oklahoma placed an order for new and improved academic standards for our children.

A standards committee was subsequently formed, bringing together some of the brightest, most experienced education specialists in our state.

The entire standards-writing process was conducted transparently and provided numerous opportunities for public feedback and comment. At the conclusion of this time-staking and difficult process, the group of experts reached consensus, the standards were approved by the State School Board, and have been certified by the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education.

Not everyone got exactly want they wanted, but these are high quality standards developed by high quality Oklahomans. Just as most reasonable people can agree that there is no perfect pizza, neither is there a perfect set of academic standards.

If there were, all pizza places would just offer the one pizza, and all states would use identical standards.

The bottom line is it’s time for the legislature to approve the proposed academic standards and give our educators the clear and well-designed product they need. These standards have been properly vetted and are ready to put in the hands of teachers.

Any further delay is simply not acceptable. To say otherwise at this point is dismissive of the expertise and hard work invested by hundreds of Oklahoma educators.

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