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'Hips Don't Lie': White House Appoints Shakira to Hispanic Panel

The White House announced on October 5 that Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll is one of four new members of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The Colombian dancer and singer is also the founder of the Barefoot Foundation, an educational organization with U.S. offices in Santa Monica, Calif. She joins Nancy Navarro, a member of the county council for Montgomery County, Md.; Adrian A. Pedroza, the executive director of the Partnership for Community Action in Clarkston, Ga.; and Kent P. Scribner, the superintendent of Phoenix Public Schools in Arizona. An eclectic group of backgrounds!

The commission has 30 members, more than a dozen of whom were named this past May.

A release about the May inductees discussed the urgency of the Advisory Committee's task:

"At more than 54 million strong—including nearly 4 million in Puerto Rico—Hispanics are both the largest and fastest-growing minority group, yet they have the lowest education attainment levels of any group in the country. In addition, Hispanics are the largest minority group in the public education system, with more than one in five students in our elementary, middle and high schools; however, it is this group that has the lowest education attainment levels overall ... ."

The advisory commission's executive director, Juan Sepulveda, recently joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a televised "town hall" event to mark Hispanic Heritage Month.

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