Yesterday more than a dozen new members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics were announced at the White House and later sworn-in at an official ceremony with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Smithsonian Institution Castle. These historic events mark the next step in improving the academic achievement of Latino students and the lives of all Hispanics nationwide according to the White House.
Hispanic success in education and the labor market is important to America’s economy. 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 1 in 5 students in our elementary, middle and high schools; however, it this group that has the lowest education attainment levels overall, according to the report recently released by our office.
This two-day inaugural meeting brings together a group of well-respected individuals from the education, philanthropic, business, nonprofit and high-tech sectors; they also represent various Latino subgroups and regions of the U.S. The primary goal of these meetings is to provide a platform for the Commission to think through the many ways in which it can meet the duties under its charter. They will work in tandem with the White House to create a strategy that is bold and innovative and that enables this Nation to meet the President’s 2020 Goal of having the most graduates in the world.
Through its work, the Commission will provide advice to President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. In remarks given during our executive order signing ceremony last October, the President introduced Eduardo Padron, president of Miami-Dade College, as the chair of the Commission. As chair, Padron works with White House Initiative Executive Director Juan Sepúlveda and Deputy Director Jose Rico to convene regular Commission meetings, determine its agenda, and direct its work.
In addition, more than 400 people attended the Commissioner’s swearing-in ceremony Thursday evening. The program, co-hosted by the Smithsonian Latino Center with unscripted remarks by Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz and Commissioner Chair Eduardo Padron, held at the historic Smithsonian Institution Castle and Enid A. Haupt Gardens. The highlight of the program was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s congratulatory remarks and the swearing-in of the Commissioners.