Commentary on Cuba’s Education Outcomes

Paul Peterson:

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.