Manhattan's Upper West Side may be the most liberal neighborhood in the United States. So who's surprised that a public school there wanted to show kids real Communism, up close and in-person? In 2004 and 2005, students from the area's Beacon School took school-led field trips to Cuba, in violation of federal law. This year, the New York City Education Department found out about this unapproved shuttle diplomacy and forbade a 2007 visit. But the school went to Havana anyway. New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have placed the matter under investigation. Klein told reporters, "It shouldn't have happened. We expressly said no." But New York Lieutenant Governor David Patterson, whose stepdaughter went on the 2005 trip, was less condemnatory. Describing the visit, during which students, among other things, interviewed a 15-year-old prostitute, Patterson said, "I've probably learned more, hearing about her experiences, than I have been able to read in books or watch in films about the Communist dictatorship." Then he reclined in his chair, lit a Cohiba, and returned to his game of dominos.
"Manhattan School Challenges U.S. Rules and Sends Students on a Spring Break Trip to Cuba," by David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times, April 17, 2007