A junior high school teacher in Utah gave a deeply unsettling assignment to her students – to create a terrorism propaganda poster on behalf of ISIS. Not only that, but the assignment's purpose was to help the ninth-graders grasp "the goals of terrorist groups and the methods they use to gain support," according to a worksheet that also listed several reasons young people might join ISIS.
The in-class assignment at Salem Junior High School didn't sit well with some parents, particularly Annie Langston, whose 14-year-old daughter took to typing such phrases as "how to join ISIS" into Google in an effort to complete her project, which included drawing a "neat, colored, professional" recruitment poster.
"My initial response was there is no way you are going to do this assignment," Langston told CNN after writing a letter to the teacher asking why this type of report could have possibly been chosen, particularly in light of the tragic events in Paris, in which Islamic State extremists killed 130 people.
The first-year teacher – in charge of 60 students in two world civics classes – apologized, and not only was the assignment withdrawn, but all submissions from students were promptly shredded.
Still, administrators maintain that the teacher simply meant to illustrate how terrorists use propaganda to spread untruths and misunderstandings to garner support, and they noted that the educator made it clear that any students uncomfortable with the assignment could receive an alternate one.
"The teacher was very apologetic," Nebo School District Public Information Officer Lana Hiskey said. "She's young, she's naive, and her intent was different than how it played out. She has apologized profusely and talked to the students the next day."
Still, for parents like Langston, there are better lessons her child could be learning.
"We shouldn't be talking about how ISIS recruits," she said. "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."