Mr. Sanders is not alone in his admiration for Cuban education. In 2016 President Obama quoted himself as telling Raúl Castro, Fidel’s younger brother and successor: “You’ve made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education.” Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, visited Havana in 2017 and exulted: “Cuba’s education system might as well be considered the ultimate wrap-around institution for children.” In 2007 Stanford’s Martin Carnoy published a book called “Cuba’s Academic Advantage.”
It’s all bunk—though it’s hard to prove, because Cuba refuses to participate in international tests such as the respected Program for International Student Assessment. The only external tests in which Cuba did participate were the 1997 and 2006 waves of the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education, sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and nicknamed Laboratorio. This was the main evidentiary basis for Mr. Carnoy’s book.