Meanwhile, UNESCO Chief Is Romancing Cuban Education

When UNESCO -- the UN's Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization -- admitted the Palestinian Authority as a full member last year, the decision triggered a U.S. law that forbids American funding of any UN outfit that grants the Palestinians membership before they reach a negotiated peace deal with Israel. Since then, UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova has been campaigning, not for UNESCO's member states to reverse the admission of the Palestinians, but for U.S. authorities to override America's own laws in order to resume sending upwards of $78 million per year to her UN shop.

With the Palestinian Authority rolling ahead, indifferent to U.S. objections, toward a vote in the UN General Assembly that would upgrade its status on the UN General Assembly's books from observer to non-member observer state, UNESCO may make a fresh push for the U.S. to find a way around its own laws, in order to reopen the tax dollar spigots for UNESCO's coffers. There are plenty of good reasons why America should not do this, starting with respect for America's own laws, versus UNESCO's appetite for U.S. cash.  The Heritage Foundation's Brett Schaefer makes a sound case (disclaimer: along with his own reporting, he cites some of mine) that the U.S. would do better, a la President Reagan, to simply withdraw from the self-serving, poorly performing UNESCO -- which does a much better job of thumbing its nose at U.S. interests and providing for its plushly over-staffed offices in Paris than of serving its erstwhile clientele in the world's poorer countries.

Here's one more item for the list. While the U.S. headlines have been focused on such pressing matters as violence in the Middle East, and the domestic wrangle over taxes, UNESCO's chief, Irina Bokova, has just dropped in on Cuba, whence UNESCO's media services report she has been lavishing praise on the minister of education. UNESCO reports that Bokova "expressed her appreciation to the Minister for the long-standing state policy to give the highest priority to education." Bokova also "congratulated the Minister" on Cuba being the only country of the Latin American and Caribbean region to achieve the goal of the UNESCO-led program called Education for All.

That sure sounds commendable. Except, what's the real condition of schooling in Cuba? What is this system that Bokova has just praised as the educational Eden of Latin America and the Caribbean?