Posted on

The Secret Sauce: Ownership

Thomas Friedman, writing in the NYTimes about education, politics and global competition observes “We’re going through a huge technological transformation in the middle of a recession. It requires a systemic response.”

He reports that the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, found that the most successful students are those who feel real “ownership” of their education. “The highest performing PISA schools all have “ownership” cultures — a high degree of professional autonomy for teachers in the classrooms, where teachers get to participate in shaping standards and curriculum and have ample time for continuous professional development.”

It made me reflect on the culture of dependency and lack of autonomy Oregon’s land use program fosters in our stressed out cities and rural counties. There are a few local governments who know they are empowered but most spend their limited resources hoping to comply with the whimsical review and appeal process.

In such a circumstance they can’t be held accountable for the outcomes or lack thereof. And it is only getting worse. Will the state guarantee these communities will thrive? Of course not. Will it let locals experiment? Not much.

Will the secret sauce – owning the outcome – remain a form of unobtanium?