Should Shakira Have a Say in Your Child's Education?

It might be true that Shakira's voice would be instantly recognizable to many school-age children both in and outside the United States. But how many of those children realize that the young star also gives voice to educational reform and equality? While her musical talents have awarded her a Grammy and worldwide recognition, the singer's educational efforts have recently brought their own reward.

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A 'Tremendous Honor'

Common goals can sometimes lead to unlikely partnerships.

President Obama has made education a top priority during his presidency; Shakira (whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll) has spoken out on educational issues for most of her career. So it does not seem as strange as it might appear that in October 2011 the president appointed the singer to his Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

In a statement, Shakira said, 'This is a tremendous honor for me.' She went on to discuss her desire to 'close the gap' between Latinos who drop out of school and those who do not. And with more than six million Latino children living in poverty, Shakira believes education is their only hope.

Mutual Fans

Though certainly not in the age-group one would normally associate with fans of Shakira, President Obama is no stranger to the Colombian singer. In October 2008, Shakira endorsed Obama as a presidential candidate and in response Obama called the young artist a 'role model' for young Latinas around the world.

Shakira performed at Obama's 'We Are One' Inauguration Concert with Usher and Stevie Wonder in January, 2009. And in February 2010, she met at the White House with Obama and Vice-President Joseph Biden to discuss early childhood education reform.

A Voice for Education

Shakira has long been as active outside the recording studio as she has been inside of it.

Since 1991 (at the age of 13!), Shakira has produced 11 albums. And during nearly all that time, she has been involved in some way in educational activism.

In 1995 she founded the Barefoot Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission 'to make education universally available to every child.' In 2007, she joined the Latin American Solidarity Action (ALAS) Foundation, which focuses on improving health and education for poor Latin American communities. In addition, she is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

So, while at first glance Obama's appointment of Shakira might have sounded a bit odd, it's plain to see that the singer is undoubtedly passionate about the importance of education, and she seems to carry the credentials to adequately fulfill the duties of her new advisory role. Our children could be in worse hands.

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