School Assignment Asks Kids to Draw Nazi-Themed Cartoons & Parents Are Furious

WGN News

For schools, keeping kids engaged and excited about learning is a constant challenge. That's why many teachers try to assign things that look at old lessons in a new way and get kids involved. But a middle school in Gurnee, Illinois, is under fire for missing that mark entirely with an insensitive assignment that forced students to draw "fun" cartoons depicting Nazi Germany and Hitler.

  • Mom Kelly Masterton first learned of the assignment when she was reviewing her 13-year-old son's homework.

    The assignment featured a cartoon image of what looks to be a My Little Pony dressed up as Hitler. The project's title, modeled after the kids' book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, was "If You Give Hitler a Country." The objective of the assignment was to "create a comic strip for little kids that exemplifies Europe's appeasement towards Hitler."

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  • Disturbed, Masterton dug a little deeper.

    She found a comic strip her son had created for the class. While his worked seemed to follow the rules of the assignment, it was full of disturbing imagery that Kelly said looked a lot like propaganda. "So glad my son has now researched how to be a Nazi sympathizer," she wrote sarcastically in a tweet

  • The mother told WGN News she doesn't necessarily feel that the assignment was created to be offensive.

    She did say, though, that it was completely misguided. "I don't think [the teacher] did it on purpose to be anti-Semitic," she told WGN9. "I think she was trying to teach that there was propaganda ... It did not come through the assignment that way."

  • Other parents in the area agree with Kelly completely, mentioning that the assignment is definitely "weird."

  • Some are even calling for more extreme measures to be taken.

    "It's obvious that a certain educator needs a long vacation," one person wrote. 

  • In response to the anger, Woodland Middle School released a statement to parents of the attending students.

    The statement claims the lesson didn't break any school or district rules. "This lesson objective is in alignment with the Illinois Learning Standards for Social Science Grades 6-8 and the district curriculum on World War II," it reads.

    The school also claims the "fun" and "cartoonish" assignment does not fully represent the intent of teachers, adding that the goal was to "help students understand the complex issues of World War II, not to minimize the atrocities of Nazi Germany."

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    In the wake of this controversy, Kelly Masterton says she and her son will be moving school districts. While she did note this assignment isn't the only reason for that, she told Grayslake Patch her decision to leave is "based on other similar events."

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