Speech for the US-Chilean Chamber of Commerce

I just gave a speech today relating to the 90th anniversary of the US-Chilean Chamber of Commerce in Santiago about educational linkages between Chile and the US, arguing that opportunities to study, work, or volunteer away from home leave long-term impacts…and used one very concrete example.

Tomas Recart graduated in June 2008 with a master´s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

While studying in the U.S., he saw a remarkable educational program called, Teach for America, a private initiative that was founded in 1990 that places some of the most talented recent U.S. college graduates in some of the most difficult public grade school and high schools in US.

Just to give you a sense of how much interest there is in this program, in 2008, more Harvard College graduates applied to Teach for America than any other single company or organization… some 8% of Harvard graduating seniors… the only other company that even came close was Google.com.

Tomas and other Chilean colleagues believed Chile should similarly be directing their most talented graduates to work to increase the opportunities for children in Chile.

“Our theory of change is to build human capital,” Tomas told me earlier this week. “The idea is not simply to have good people work in difficult schools. It is to infuse the system with people of the highest abilities … confident that some will stay in teaching, some will be principals or educational policy makers, but many others will be business leaders or politicians or researchers or lawyers. They will lead change in the system from their different disciplines, with passion and knowledge, because they have actually spent time in the classroom teaching.”

In June 2008, Enseña Chile launched their recruitment campaign for 40 teaching slots. They set high standards and were incredibly ambitious, hoping to see as many as 500 applicants for 40 those positions.

This past Sunday, Enseña Chile finished their recruitment drive. 708 professionals applied. 15% of applicants are from the Universidad de Chile and Universidad Catolica. These 40 teachers will start teaching in 20 schools in and around Santiago and in and around Temuco in March 2009. Keep an eye on Enseña Chile. They are going to do great things.

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