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Shakira's Speech at the swearing-in Ceremony for the White House Initiative on Ed. Exc for Hispanics

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http://www.shakira.com Being here today is a tremendous honor for me. I am thankful to President Obama and I am humbled that my philanthropic experience could be helpful in some measure and can be used to amplify the message and work of the President and this Commission.

Latino youth are the fastest-growing group in America, and more Latino children are living in poverty than children of any other racial or ethnic group. For a number of reasons, young Latinos in this country disproportionately drop out of school and far too few finish college. And as I have seen in my own Foundation work, the only road out of poverty is education - of that I am convinced.

Investing in the educational achievement for Latinos will not only determine the economic future and competitiveness of this nation, but can serve as a model for the world.

I hope that through my appointment to this commission, I will be able to share what I've learned through the 15 years I have been involved in the education of Latino children. I am sure you will agree with me that race and ethnicity shouldn't be factors in the success of any child.

It is my belief and its also been demonstrated that if we provide early childhood education to Latino children it would take less than a decade to reap the benefits since investment in early education is proven to generate the fastest returns to the state.

With more ECD programs there will be less Latino students being held back, less dropouts and less crime involving school-age children; and they will be more productive individuals to society.

Its proven that most Latino kids who drop out of school and perform poorly in high school didn't have access to an early childhood education and lacked essential attention, stimulation and nutrition during the first 6 years of their lives.

Therefore, it is clear that the most powerful avenue for boosting academic achievement is improving the basic academic skills of children before kindergarten.

The Obama administration has made a point to improve Latino education and -- as I spoke to the President previously -- I am extremely passionate about working with the White House to plan an early childhood education summit in the coming year.

Latinos are the largest minority group in this country and as the Latino population grows, the U.S. economy becomes more and more dependent on its success. Americans must better understand the impact that the growing Latino population is having on the way we live today and on this nations future. Inevitably this country and its economic prosperity will also largely depend on our Hispanic kids.

There is no doubt that the future of the United States is inextricably tied to the future of the Latino community here and the education of its youth.

Thank you again, this is a great honor for me, I am so happy to be here.
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