A school in Utah has apologized for an assignment that asked students to create a propaganda poster for a group such as Islamic State in order to offer a better understanding of the methods and goals of terror organizations.
Students at Salem Junior High School were given the assignment, which was then cancelled after the school received a number of complaints from parents. However, before that could happen some students had already completed the project, causing a number of parents to worry about what their children had been exposed to.
Concerned parent Annie Langston said the topic was inappropriate for her ninth grade daughter Mikalia, who researched for the project by typing in “how to recruit for ISIS” into Google. Langston sent letters to both the teacher and principal asking for an explanation.
The teacher responded with a letter apologizing for the incident and letting her know the assignment had been cancelled. She also received a phone call from the principal, who said the teacher had been spoken to and the completed assignments that had been turned in had been shredded.
Langston added that she believes the assignment was an honest mistake on the part of the teacher, who she says is a good teacher for her daughter, reports Dora Scheidell for Fox 13 Now.
Another parent was worried that his 14-year-old son would use the internet to look up terrorist propaganda and end up on a federal terrorist watch list, reports Chris Miller for KUTV.
According to an image of the assignment worksheet, students were asked to create a “neat, colored, professional” poster. The sheet went on to say the purpose of the assignment was “to help students understand the goals of terrorist groups and the methods they use to gain support.” A disclaimer was added allowing any student who felt uncomfortable with the assignment to ask for an alternative project. It is unknown whether any students did in fact make that request.
The front page of the worksheet listed out “eight reasons why young Muslims join ISIS.”
Nebo School District spokeswoman Lana Hiskey said a first-year teacher had assigned the project to her ninth grade world civics class during a discussion of the Middle East terrorism and propaganda. The school had not approved the assignment, which was not part of the official curriculum for the class.
“She was just very enthusiastic and wanted students to understand that propaganda is not good,” Hiskey said of the teacher.
The teacher will not receive any disciplinary action. She has apologized for the assignment and has already met with school administrators, reports Michelle Price for ABC News.
A separate poster project drew criticism from parents in Utah two years ago when a contest for elementary school students was held by the state oil, gas and mining division, asking participants to create a poster for Earth day under the theme, “Where would we be without oil, gas and mining?”
Parents argued that the contest was merely propaganda for the division and missed the point of Earth Day.