Imagine a school sanctioned spring break trip to Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, just think of the educational opportunities such excursions would have provided for those young minds. Couldn’t have happened you say? Such a thing would have been unthinkable you say? After all, no responsible adult would ever think it appropriate to take impressionable high school kids to such horrible, repressive, death laden places. No responsible adult would take kids to visit a dictatorship.
Yet, that’s exactly what a New York City high school teacher has done.
April 16, 2007 — A group of Manhattan public high-school students and a history teacher with a soft spot for Cuba flouted federal travel restrictions by taking a spring-break field trip to the communist nation – and now face up to $65,000 apiece in fines, The Post has learned.
The lesson in socializing and socialism was given to about a dozen students from the selective Beacon School on the Upper West Side, which for years has organized extravagant overseas trips with complementary semester-long classes.
Some past destinations include France, Spain, South Africa, Venezuela, Mexico and, according to the school Web site, Cuba in 2004 and 2005.
The principal, Ruth Lacey, insisted she did not approve the April 1-10 jaunt, in which students and teachers said the group was briefly detained on their return by American customs officials in The Bahamas and now faces fines.
In a telephone interview, Lacey initially claimed to have no knowledge of the trip but later recalled having denied approval for it. She said the teacher, Nathan Turner, then took it upon himself to arrange the excursion.
Turner, 35, a popular teacher whose classroom walls, students said, are adorned with posters of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, declined to comment.
“I don’t know anything about the trip because it wasn’t school-sponsored. I only care about the trips that go through the school,” Lacey said. “This, to me, would be an outrage if it happened.”
But the trip was advertised on the school’s Web site in the fall. And a list of 30 students selected in November to take the journey and to attend preparation classes for it could be found on its Web site last week.
It was not clear how many students actually went, though sources said it was about a dozen.
Asked whether the previous trips to Cuba had been approved, Lacey said they had, explaining, “At the time, I think the climate in the country was different.”
City Department of Education spokesman David Cantor said the agency denied the school permission to run the trip and that, after The Post’s inquiries, had asked city investigators to look into how the excursion and any previous jaunts got off the ground.
“This trip should not have happened,” Cantor said.
Read the entire article at the New York Post.
I’d like to know why the city of New York permits public school employees to hang posters of murderous dictators on their walls. Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg has the answer.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, NY 10007
PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)
FAX (212) 788-2460
UPDATE: You can contact Nathan “I love fidel” Turner right here: email@example.com