D.C. Board of Education member Frank Shaffer-Corona yesterday answered charges that his recent trip to Cuba should not be paid for by the school board because it had nothing to do with the needs of the District's schools.
Shaffer-Corona said he spent a week touring "what I would say is the most advanced educational system I've seen in my life. If we did 10 percent for our students in the D.C. public schools of what they're doing down there we'd have the most advanced educational system in the United States."
The occasion for Shaffer-Corona's trip was the 11th World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana, a gathering of 16,000 people from 135 countries dedicated, among other things, to "the fight against imperialism."
Shaffer-Corona said yesterday that he spent much of his time talking with teachers and students from all over the world and attending conferences that dealth "with the rights of children and quality education."
Shaffer-Corona said that among the things he saw demonstrated in Cuban schools that might be useful to the District were "more parent and community involvement - real involvement, not the flim-flam game that calls itself involvement;" active and effective student government; and adult education programs so effective, said Shaffer-Corona, that they eradicated illiteracy in one year.
Payment of the $756 cost of the trip has been withheld by the mayor's budget office pending "further justification" of the trip. Shaffer-Corona said yesterday that if the payment is not made he will take legal action to obtain it.