Utah's Salem Junior High School released an apology Thursday for an assignment in which students were asked to create propaganda for terrorist groups like the Islamic State militant group, which is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 130 people in a series of terrorist attacks in Paris last week.
A first year teacher assigned the task to about 60 ninth-graders with an assignment worksheet explaining that the project was designed "to help students understand the goals of terrorist groups and the methods they use to gain support."
Parents of the students complained to the school board, which was not aware of the assignment. School officials have said the assignment was not approved by the school and not part of the approved curriculum.
"She wanted the students to understand how propaganda can be wrong and lead people incorrectly," Nebo School District spokeswoman Lana Hiskey told the Associated Press.
The assignment arose during discussions and lessons on the Middle East, terrorism, and propaganda, including how propaganda was used during World War II, Ms. Hiskey said.
The assignment asked kids to create a mock up of a propaganda poster. A disclaimer at the bottom of the worksheet said that any students who felt uncomfortable with the assignment could request an alternative task from the teacher, the AP reported.
Four parents called the principal to discuss concerns over the project. No disciplinary action is planned for the teacher, but school administrators instructed the teacher to cancel the project.
“We don’t want students going on the Internet and looking up terrorist things,” Hiskey told KUTV. “This was a classroom project and it’s been withdrawn and she’s talked to the students and let them know that was not the intent.”
This report includes material from the Associated Press.