President Obama has appointed Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll — the Colombian singer better known around the world as Shakira — to a presidential commission on education for Hispanics.
If you are wondering why, it turns out that the multiple Grammy-winning Shakira has been involved in promoting early childhood education in Latin America for years, and, not incidentally, she endorsed Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign.
That may be why Shakira, after meeting at the White House on Monday with policy officials on early childhood development, was allowed to “briefly” stop “by to say hello to the president,” and update “him on her work on the subject,” an aide told my colleague Anne E. Kornblut.
In a release with the headline, “President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts,” the White House said it had appointed Shakira to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
For the record, he appointed to the same commission Nancy Navarro, the only Hispanic member of the Montgomery County Council and a former Montgomery Board of Education president.
Also named to the commission were Adrián A. Pedroza, executive director of the Partnership for Community Action, a grassroots, community-based organization that works to build community leadership around issues of immigration, education reform, and public health, and Kent P. Scribner, superintendent of Union High School District #210 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The commission advises Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on issues of educational success related to Hispanic students.
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans was initially established in 1990 by former president George H.W. Bush to give guidance on education issues related to Hispanics, the nation’s largest minority group.
There are more than 11 million Hispanic students in America’s public elementary and secondary schools, or more than 22 percent of all pre-K–12 students.Yet according to the White House, only about half of all Hispanic students earn their high school diploma on-time; those who do complete high school are only half as likely as their peers to be prepared for college. Only 13 percent of Hispanics hold a bachelor’s degree, and just 4 percent completed graduate or professional degree programs.
Shakira was recently named the 2011 Latin Recording Academy person of the year. Here’s the biography of her on the White House release:
“Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll is a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, record producer, and dancer. In addition to her career in music, Ms. Mebarak Ripoll has been involved in a number of global educational efforts. She founded the Barefoot Foundation in 1995, which operates schools and educational projects in Colombia, South Africa, and Haiti, feeding and educating approximately 6,000 children. In 2010, she collaborated with the World Bank and the Barefoot Foundation to establish an initiative that distributes educational and developmental programs for children across Latin America. In 2008, Ms. Mebarak Ripoll served as the Honorary Chair of the Global Campaign for Education’s Global Action Week. In 2005, she became a founding member of Latin America in Solidarity Action, a coalition of artists and business leaders seeking to promote integrated early childhood public policies. Ms. Mebarak Ripoll became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund in 2003, where she promotes the expansion and improvement of comprehensive early childhood care and education across the world.”
“I hope to be able to bring some insight and also learn from the other folks,” said Navarro, who is Venezuelan. “I just feel really humble.”
Navarro’s first meeting is tomorrow, when the commission will discuss education strategies and she expects to be confirmed. She said she is excited to meet Shakira, describing herself as a “major fan.”
Shakira, who performed at Obama’s inauguration, has funded schools in Haiti and in Colombia, her native country. The other two members to be appointed to the advisory team are Adrian Pendoza, who leads a grass-roots immigration and education reform organization, and Kent Scribner, who serves as a school superintendent in Phoenix.
” after her meetings, an aide said. by to seekThe White House didn’t announce it, but it did not take long for word to leak out: pop star Shakira dropped by to see President Obama on Monday.
The Colombian singer had meetings with administration policy officials on the subject of early childhood development, White House aides said. She “
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