Arlington Schools: Now With Less Taliban

But what if I want to be the Taliban?

By Chris Needham
|  Tuesday, Dec 15, 2009  |  Updated 10:00 AM EDT
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Arlington Schools: Now With Less Taliban

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Pretending to be these guys is only ok on Halloween, kids.

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When you live in Arlington, just a few miles from the Pentagon, and you're teaching children, some of whose parents are in the military, maybe assigning them a project to be the Taliban isn't the smartest idea in the world.

The project was part of Swanson Middle School's U.N. debate series, reports the Post.  For the debate, students were split into small groups and assigned different sides of the debate for pressing international conflicts. 

Topics included India and Pakistan, Russia and Chechnya, and North Korea versus, well, the world.

But it's the U.S. versus Afghanistan one that drew criticism.  Kids who drew the short straw on that one were suddenly thrust into explaining and defending the rights of the Taliban, and arguing against the U.S. and the troops at a time when thousands are fighting with their lives on the line.  That's a pretty tough debate for a kid to handle, no matter how one feels about the U.S. involvement there politically. 

One parent, no doubt fearing what kinds of extra security screening would occur on his next trip to the airport, told the paper that he didn't like the idea of his 14-year-old daughter wandering all over the Internet doing research on the Taliban.

The letter the school sent home acknowledged the difficulties with the lesson:

"Recognizing the pain that has touched many of our families and neighbors due to the terrorist attacks on the United States and acknowledging the sensitive nature of the conflict in Afghanistan involving many of our dedicated members of the U.S. armed forces, we have eliminated this topic as part of the U.N. unit of study effective immediately."

There's no word on whether the school has canceled its unit on apple pie burning or bald eagle plucking.

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