News & Politics

Utah Teacher Class Assignment: Draw Propaganda Poster for ISIS

A video of propaganda by Dash or Islamic State or ISIS is seen online on November 18, 2015. It shows young children being trained to sports, weapons and to Quran recitation in an undisclosed area somewhere between Syria and Iraq. Photo by Balkis Press/Sipa USA

A teacher in Salem, Utah, decided to go all original on her students and gave them an in-class assignment that might be classified as “unusual” — or child abuse.

She asked students to draw a propaganda poster for the Islamic State.

ABC News reports:

The teacher, who’s been on the job for just a few months, gave the in-class assignment to students in her two World Civics classes at Salem Junior High School in Salem, Utah, on Wednesday. About 60 students received the assignment, which required them to create a “neat, colored, professional” poster for the terrorist group, to “help students better understand the goals of terrorist groups and the methods they use to gain support,” the assignment read.

The teacher included a note asking students to come forward if they felt uncomfortable with the assignment. None did, Lana Hiskey, a spokeswoman for the Nebo School District where the school is located, told ABC News.

But some parents did not think the assignment was appropriate, especially after six coordinated terrorist attacks last week in Paris have left 130 dead.

“We shouldn’t be talking about how ISIS recruits, we should be discussing the events of what they have caused to figure a way of how to deter that and how to help better the world,” Annie Langston, whose daughter received the assignment, told ABC News. “I thought this isn’t right, not right now.”

The possibility of having to search for ISIS recruiting material on the web at a time when officials are looking to detect potential threats was alarming, Langston said.

The assignment had not been approved by school administrators, Hiskey said, adding that teachers at the school meet each week to discuss best practices.

“That never happened with this one,” said Hiskey.

Four parents contacted the school on Thursday to express their concern.

“As soon as the administration heard of this and reviewed the material, they immediately removed the assignment,” Hiskey said.

Hiskey added, “She did this innocently, she’s a naive young teacher. She wants to do the right thing.” She may have done it innocently, but that’s no excuse for being stupid. This was a clear “What was she thinking?” moment that should get her suspended without pay.

I appreciate the teacher thinking outside the box to come up with something original. For that reason, she shouldn’t be fired. But there are plenty of other, less-destructive ways to teach kids about Islamic terrorism than forcing them to be propagandists for mass murderers.