2007_04_fideltrack.jpgThe controversial class trip to Cuba that public school students took with a teacher has a twist. NY Lieutenant Governor David Paterson actually called the Department of Education on behalf of the Beacon School to allow the DOE to authorize this year's class trip. Still, the DOE said no, and now the school, as well as officials, is left to explain how the trip still went forward.

Since the DOE didn't approve the trip, the school didn't officially okay excursion, but the Post reported that information about the trip was still distributed on the school's website. Paterson's stepdaughter attended Beacon and went on the Cuba class trip in 2005. Now it turns out the DOE didn't know about past trips to Cuba, and Paterson tells the NY Times that Beacon approved his stepdaughter's trip, but "I was a little concerned that a group of schoolchildren went to Cuba and the Department of Education didn’t know about it." However, Paterson did write a letter for history teacher Nathan Turner, who organized the trip, to use in case he and the students ran into trouble. Paterson's aide says he wrote it thinking Turner had the proper paperwork to travel and lead a group of kids, not realizing that it's illegal for high school students to travel there.

The Sun reports that Turner is still teaching at Beacon, at least partly because principal Ruth Lacey is worried about a backlash since Turner is very popular. Of course he's popular - he's taking kids to Cuba! Parents tell the Sun that it was clear the school did not sponsor the trip and defended Turner. The Sun also has a column by Andrew Wolf wondering about the intersection of "radical politics and education," when specialized schools are being started by "left-wing groups such as Acorn and the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition."

Two amusing things from this story: 1) Mayor Bloomberg's told reporters, "There is a problem when the federal government has regulations that you can't travel to some place...I think we should be a law-abiding society. If you don't like the regulations, get the government to change them." Which is funny because it's easy for him to say. And 2), the Post's cover from yesterday, calling it a "Fidel Trip." The kids did not meet the sometimes-tracksuit-wearing dictator but "a 15-year-old prostitute" and "a homeless man in Havana," as well as visiting ""La Zorra y El Cuervo — the Fox and the Crow — an Afro-Cuban jazz club in the Vedado section of Havana" according to the Times.