Teacher Suspended For Writing Critical Comments on Her Personal Blog

After just posting the story of a tenth-grade student suspended for a posting on Facebook, this story appeared of yet another teacher suspended for her own postings on a blog. Natalie Munroe taught at the Central Bucks East High School near Philadelphia as an English teacher — until students discovered a comment on a February 8th blog.

On the blog, Munroe complained that her students were “rude, lazy, disengaged whiners” and admitted that she dreamed of giving parents an honest appraisal of their children. Some of the alternative “canned comments” were pretty funny and were clearly not meant for the students to read. They included “rat-like,” “dresses like a streetwalker,” “frightfully dim,” and “whiny, simpering grade-grubber with an unrealistically high perception of own ability level.”

Superintendent N. Robert Laws said last week that the blogged complaints were “very egregious” and “certainly could result in termination.” I certainly agree that this matter raised very egregious conduct, but of the school not the teacher. Teachers have free speech and have a right to vent about their profession.

Instead, Munroe was escorted from the school and suspended on the day the blog was revealed to school officials.

Munroe, 30, has both a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s degree in education.

She joined a growing list of teachers punished for conduct or statements made after-hours and in their private lives (here and here and here and here and here and here).

The story below discusses how teachers are now shutting down their blogs and taking other steps to avoid punishments for any statements that they make in their private lives. It is a classic example of a chilling effect on speech and Munroe would do her profession a great service by challenging this abusive action.

Since the high school calls itself “the Patriots,” they might want to start with what the original Patriots fought for and fought against — starting with free speech and censorship.

Source: PhillyBurbs found on Reddit

Jonathan Turley

111 thoughts on “Teacher Suspended For Writing Critical Comments on Her Personal Blog

  1. s/

    “very egregious” Mr. Superintendent? Perhaps he could take over Ms. Munroe’s English class now that he has fired her. That would be a very unique solution to Ms. Munroe’s future absence.

    \s

  2. I think this teacher may have a cause of actiona against this school district. The First Amendment does not have an exclusion for teachers or students when they are on their own time. If this kind of firing is upheld, then wouldn’t speech to an individual saying the same things be suspect? This is an absurd reaction by this school.

  3. I always wondered what happened to Ed Rooney after his run in with Ferris.

    Apparently students were too tough for him to pick on, so he switched to teachers.

  4. Seems to me a certain school superintendent has entirely too much time on their hands.

    This is getting so out of hand – if threats of violence were posted by either teacher or student, disciplinary action is essential. But, venting? Talk about a waste of time and money.

  5. raff,

    True. Between the B&E (the character) and kiddie porn charges (which I think the actor has now had more than once IRL), he was probably “otherwise occupied”.

  6. I’m going to disagree with most of you. I’m a former teacher. IMO, that teacher showed a terrible lack of judgment. Teachers should set a good example. Teachers are supposed to show respect for their students. I’d say that Natalie Munroe has a pretty poor attitude about the students she teaches. I think it’s one thing to have a blog and talk about your private life…maybe even some of your professional frustrations when you’re a teacher. It’s another thing to be casting aspersions on your students on a public blog. I can’t say I’d want a child of mine to have Natalie Munroe for a teacher.

  7. Elaine,

    I won’t disagree she exercised bad judgment, however, the right to free speech also includes the right to make a fool of oneself.

    Look at Coulter for a fine example of that principle.

  8. Elaine,
    I have to agree with Buddha. She has the right to be an idiot. I would agree that it was poor judgment on her part at best, but she should still be able to write it.

  9. Buddha & rafflaw,

    Maybe teachers don’t have all the free speech rights that they think they do. I was surprised when I read about the following case a few months ago:

    From School Law (An Education Week blog)
    Justices Decline Special Education Teacher’s Free-Speech Case
    By Mark Walsh on November 29, 2010 6:21 PM

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the appeal of a Michigan special education teacher who claimed she was fired for complaining that the size of her teaching caseload kept her from providing the proper amount of instruction to each of her students.

    The Traverse City Area Public Schools in Michigan declined to renew the probationary teaching contract of Susan M. Fox in 2007 because of what the district described as her deficiencies. Fox claimed that the adverse job action resulted from her complaints to supervisors that her caseload of special needs students exceeded what was allowed by law.

    The teacher says in court papers that in addition to serving 21 special education students, she was asked to teach an elementary school reading program that brought her total number of students to 34.

    Fox sued over her nonrenewal on First Amendment free-speech grounds, but both a federal district court and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled against her in May. The 6th Circuit said Fox’s complaints were covered by the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos, which held that on-the-job speech by public employees is not protected by the First Amendment.

    Fox’s Supreme Court appeal argued that her case presented a good opportunity for the justices to clarify whether Garcetti should apply to the on-the-job speech of lower-level public employees such as her.

    “The effect of Garcetti is to put conscientious public employees who observe wrongdoing in a no-win position,” the brief said.

    The school district filed a brief saying that the 6th Circuit had made a “straightforward application” of Garcetti and had properly ruled against Fox.

    The Supreme Court declined without comment to hear the teacher’s appeal in Fox v. Traverse Area City Public Schools (Case No. 10-229).

    http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/school_law/2010/11/justices_decline_special_educa.html

  10. “Superintendent N. Robert Laws said last week that the blogged complaints were “very egregious” and “certainly could result in termination.” I certainly agree that this matter raised very egregious conduct, but of the school not the teacher. Teachers have free speech and have a right to vent about their profession.”
    ______________________________________________

    This teacher has traded her credibility for her blog. She may have the right to say these things but the school also has the right to dump her sorry ass for undermining their first responsibility….the teaching of the students.

    BTW; isn’t it true that Judges can lose their positions if they engage in conduct unbecoming the proffesion? Is that also true for lawyers? I know it is true for nurses…I’m not even allowed to speak of my patients where I may be overheard without risking a lot more than my job….

  11. rafflaw,

    She was able to write it. Now she has to deal with the consequences of her actions. It’s teachers like her who give other teachers a bad name.

    I had to take issue with one of my daughter’s high school teachers. My daughter refused to let me speak to the principal while she was still at the school. As soon as she graduated, I met with the principal–as did some other parents who were fed up with the teacher embarrassing and/or insulting their children in class in front of their peers. That teacher was gone a year later.

    Maybe Ms. Munroe has constitutional rights. She also has a mighty responsibility as a teacher. The welfare of her students should be of utmost importance to her. She acted in a very unprofessional manner.

    I know the frustrations of being a teacher! Couldn’t Munroe have discussed her problems and frustrations with her colleagues in a private way? I’m an inveterate wiseass and as sarcastic as a person can get–but I would NEVER write the kinds of things Ms. Munroe did about my students on a public blog where others could read what I wrote about my students.

    If Munroe wants to be considered a professional, she should act like one.

  12. Wootsy’s still a Cat, blogging is hardly “conduct unbecoming” a teacher. They don’t make life and death decisions. Buy they are treated like crap AND have to put up with nosepick kids not taught to be interested in learning at home. So, let’s make sure it’s even harder for them, and divorce their students further from real life where people, you know, blog.

    Now, having said that, any at-will teacher can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all, like the rest of us. You may or may be entitled to unemployment insurance at that point, but that pathway very rarely leads back to being rehired, if ever.

    If we were more interested in what people actually have to say, rather than always seeking to condemn either the person, forum or method of speech, problems like this would go away. Regrettably, it seems to be human nature to attempt to discredit that which is perceived to be objectionable. If I can hoist you first, I don’t have to “be offended” by your petard.

    No one is born “being offended.” It has to be taught, learned, and then a great deal of time wasted perpetuating what is a choice of a negative state of mind. Always a choice.

  13. James in LA,

    Regarding blogging not being “conduct unbecoming” for a teacher: It all depends upon what the teacher is blogging about and the language that he/she uses.

    Teachers make a lot of decisions about the way they act toward their students, how they treat their students, and how they teach their students that can have a great impact on the lives of those students–in both negative and positive ways.

    Ms. Munroe exhibited little respect for her students. How can she command respect from them now?

  14. Elaine,
    I agree with you entirely, except that she has the right to speak her mind outside of her school. My wife is a teacher and she has to deal with kid’s blogs that are very similar to what this teacher wrote. There is even a website that grades the teachers. I don’t like them, but they have the right to say it.
    I think it would be a huge stretch to claim that her blog was “on the job speech” as defined in the Garcetti case that you linked to above. If public employees do not have a right to freely speak and write when they are on their own time and off school grounds with their own personal computer, then none of us would be safe.

  15. Certain jobs have certain standards for keeping them. Journalists, lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants and mental health professionals are all held to certain professional standards where they VOLUNTARILY give up their freedom of speech to have that line of work. NDAs, privacy policies and other agreements all are ways that people give up their freedom of speech all the time.

    In most of these cases, you’re not employed by the government so you don’t have freedom of speech anyhow – the first amendment says that Congress shall make no law… not that you can say whatever you want, wherever you want and to whomever you want without recourse. There may be a fine line when it comes to teachers who are usually county employees (if employed by a public school) but if she voluntarily gave up her rights through a professional conduct agreement, she’s got nothing to complain about.

  16. Elaine M., I’m not convinced she lost universal respect. Nor do I think any teacher has to “command respect” to teach anything. As a student, I made it my business to be, how does one say, Highly Irreverent. The teachers who reached me did away with notions of false authority, and spoke to what could be demonstrated, by me, should the teacher unfortunately expire in the next breath. I felt it was the only way to be responsible for what I know, and, ultimately, teach others.

    Kids are far more resilient in these matters than we think, and they will always respond merrily to the consistent truth in the most unvarnished form possible for the wee audiences. When adults are inconsistent and loose with the truth, kids will always know it, usually first.

    We are also no longer in the Age of The Mimeograph, and so we have to understand kids are going to find it out anyway. Again, usually first.

    Some truths are that teachers have first amendment rights. I see nothing wrong with being able to teach how they are expressed, even if that expression is determined (by some) to be objectionable.

  17. rafflaw,

    I’m not claiming it was “on the job speech.” It certainly was “about the students” speech.

    IMO, I believe teachers SHOULD have “on the job” speech rights. My colleagues and I often had to complain to administration and file grievances about a number of things–including unhealthful working/learning conditions. There were many times when we spoke out for our own welfare and the welfare of our students.

    I don’t want teachers not to be able to blog on their personal computers on their own personal time. Munroe wasn’t punished because she was blogging. She was suspended because of the negative things she wrote about her students. Would you want your children/grandchildren to have a teacher who wrote negative things about them? I certainly wouldn’t.

    I know a number of teachers who blog. They blog about children’s literature. They blog about writing and creative activities they do in their classrooms. They share ideas for educational projects. They post their students writing and artwork. They write about educational conferences they attend. I doubt those teachers would ever be suspended for what they post on their blogs. They are true professionals.

  18. Elaine,
    The teacher was “blogging” about her students. Any free speech on her own time, no matter how stupid the discussion may be, should be protected by the First Amendment. Teachers should not have to limit what they talk about on their own free time. Unfortunately, the First Amendment cannot protect her from her own stupidity.

  19. Elaine M., I actually don’t have a problem with her complaining about her students. At least she was honest, and I will take that any day, particularly as an object-lesson for kids that some truths are unpleasant, and yet remain, stubbornly, the truth.

    As if her kids didn’t know it…

  20. askHeidi,
    In Illinois the public school teachers are usually employed by school districts that are separate taxing bodies from the county and state. They would still be public employees. I do not know of any teachers around here that have signed any professional conduct agreements. Their is state law, I believe, about being arrested, but nothing about limitations on speech outside of the job. It could be contracted, but I would submit that the district would have to pay a lot of money or benefits to the teachers in order to compensate them for the loss or restriction of their freedom of speech of the job.

  21. James,

    I should have written “earn” her students respect.

    I’m of the irreverent variety myself–and always appreciated students who had a bit of the devil in them. I found having a sense of humor was invaluable to me as a teacher.

    Regarding respect: It’s a two-way street. I always treated my students with respect and they usually returned the favor in kind. Some kids are less resilient than others. Some students who come to school have miserable home lives. Some are verbally abused; some are physically or sexually abused; some are ignored and neglected. Those students, in particular, need to feel safe and secure in their classrooms–need to be able to trust that their teachers have their best interests at heart.

  22. Askheidi,
    those codes set out expectations of reasonable standards of behaviour but do not in any way limit a teacher’s right to a private and public life. Privacy policies, fair enough, but there’s no need to bring the Beck out.

    Oddly enough even my beloved Young Turks had it wrong on this one, I think. They’d have the teacher dismissed immediately… I’m glad to hear some saner voices here.

  23. From AOL News (2/10/2011)

    Natalie Munroe Suspended: Worst Insults the Teacher Made About Her Students
    http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/10/natalie-munroe-suspended-the-worst-insults-the-teacher-made-abo/

    Excerpts:

    Maybe online etiquette should be part of the curriculum — for teachers.

    Bucks County, Pa., high school English teacher Natalie Munroe has been suspended after writing insulting comments about students, parents and other teachers on her public blog.

    *****
    In January Munroe wrote a long post describing the comments she wished she could enter on her students’ evaluations, noting at the outset that she was “being a renegade” and blogging at work.

    Among the 39 barbs she listed:
    • “I hear the trash company is hiring.”
    • “I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son.”
    • “Rude, beligerent [sic], argumentative f**k.”
    • “Just as bad as his sibling. Don’t you know how to raise kids?”
    • “Asked too many questions and took too long to ask them. The bell means it’s time to leave!”
    • “Nowhere near as good as her sibling. Are you sure they’re related?”
    • “Shy isn’t cute in 11th grade; it’s annoying. Must learn to advocate for himself instead of having Mommy do it.”
    • “Too smart for her own good and refuses to play the school ‘game’ such that she’ll never live up to her true potential here.”
    • “Am concerned that your kid is going to come in one day and open fire on the school. (Wish I was kidding.)”

    Munroe concluded: “These comments, I think, would serve me well when filling out the cards. Only, I don’t think parents want to hear these truths. Thus, the old addage [sic] … if you don’t have anything nice to say … say ‘cooperative in class.’ “

  24. Woosty,

    You got that right!

    More from Ms. Munroe:

    From NBC Philadelphia (2/9/2011)
    Teacher Suspended for Blog Posts About Students
    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/Teacher-Suspended-for-Blog-Posts-About-Students-115655164.html

    Excerpt:
    Then she lists the comments she’s really like to send to parents:
    • Seems smarter than she actually is.
    • Has a massive chip on her shoulder
    • A complete and utter jerk in all ways. Although academically ok, your child has no other redeeming qualities.
    • Lazy asshole.
    • Two words come to mind: brown AND nose.
    • Weirdest kid I’ve ever met.

  25. So whats the cause of action….believe it or not….teachers sign a contract that they will not bring any disrespect to the district in which they are employees…

    Not that I know anything…I once was an employee of NEA…but hey…I do agree that they have a right to a social life…

  26. Elaine,
    Thanks for the video and links. If she was blogging at work the district might have a better case against her if they aren’t supposed to use a computer during their lunch break or free time. Other than that, just because she is stupid, does not take away her free speech rights. Do the students through their parents have a defamation case against the teacher, possibly.

  27. We have gotten into the pattern of blaming the wrong parties in so many of out institutional problems. It appears as though the message that the “company” is always right has carried over to school systems as well. Too bad that the school district can’t use his message to be an alert of what is a pervasive problem amongst kids today, but instead, taking away the free speech of a person that is highly trained and willing to work for very little to rectify these social issues.

  28. Addiction Analyst,

    Do you think Ms. Munroe provided a good example of how a teaching professional should address the issue of some problem students? Do you think what she wrote about her students on her blog was appropriate? If she was so upset with the way things were at her school, she should have had the courage to speak up about it and have worked toward improving the situation–instead of bitching about it on her blog.

    How do you know that Munroe was a competent teacher? Maybe she had poor classroom discipline. Maybe she was an ineffective instructor. Maybe she was part of the problem. It certainly seems that she had a negative attitude about her students.

    I think the teaching profession should have high expectations for its classroom practitioners and hold them to high standards.

  29. rafflaw,

    You’re a lawyer. Do you think anything would happen to you if you wrote derogatory comments about the courts, judges, fellow lawyers, and clients you were hired to represent (without naming names) on a personal blog?

  30. “…highly trained and willing to work for very little to rectify these social issues.”
    ________________________________

    IMHO this IS a social issue.the compensation for teachers and other highly trained professionals has been stagnant for so long you could make a VERY GOOD argument that the decay of social behaviors is probably directly related to the underpayment and over-utilization state of these professionals.

    Here in Florida it was mandated by a vote that class-room size meet set levels. That MANDATE was never implemented…and now under Gov. Scott…not only will the teachers take further cuts in the form of even MORE kids shunted into already overcrowded schools but they are being forced to teach even MORE class periods. This all contributes to the decay in the system. Meanwhile, Corporations will be getting more incentives and less oversight….I might start callin a few names pretty soon….

  31. From The Republic (2/10/2011)
    Teacher suspended for remarks about students in her blog

    http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/CPT-TEACHER-BLOG_4393939/CPT-TEACHER-BLOG_4393939/
    PHILADELPHIA — She wished in her personal blog that she could call students “ratlike,” “frightfully dim” or “dunderheads” on their report cards.

    But administrators at Central Bucks High School East wish she had never said anything at all.

    Principal Abram Lucabaugh assured students at an assembly Thursday that the blog posts English teacher Natalie Munroe made did not reflect the attitude of the school’s faculty.

    “The sentiments are in no way representative of how we feel about our students or how the teachers and faculty feel about them,” he said. “This is a representation from one individual.”

    Munroe’s blog — especially her posting wishing she could leave report card comments that more accurately reflected her negative opinions of students — circulated this week among students at the Doylestown high school.

    Administrators suspended her Wednesday, and they continue to investigate her writings and whether she used district time or equipment to craft them.

    “My students are out of control,” she said in one post dated Oct. 27, 2009. “They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners.”

    Munroe, who has taught at the high school since 2006, could not be reached for comment Thursday. District officials said she did not deny writing the posts.

    The Pennsylvania State Education Association also declined to comment on Munroe’s case, saying the group might be called to intervene.

    However, a spokesman pointed to the organization’s website, which advises teachers to think carefully before sending any Web posting.

    “Make sure you would gladly show it to the following people: Your mother. Your students. Your superintendent,” the site says.

    Munroe’s blog, which was taken down Wednesday, reflected on her work at the school in between musings about television chefs, muffins and her New Year’s resolutions.

    Although she frequently criticized students in general, she never mentioned any specific teenager in any of the posts reviewed by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Lucabaugh, however, described the tenor of her comments as unacceptable and possible grounds for firing.

    In one sketch posted on the blog, an image of a bus tagged “Short Bus” appears under the slogan, “I don’t care if you lick windows, take the special bus or occasionally pee on yourself, you hang in there Sunshine, you’re … special.”

    *****

    Did you get that last paragraph? Do you know which children are transported to school on the “short bus?” Special needs students.

  32. She should very quickly resign. Her animosity will be returning to her very loudly if she returns to that school….

  33. Buddha, mespo, rafflaw, et al,

    Does having free speech rights preclude one from being fired from a job if one writes things that are inappropriate and reflect poorly on that person’s professionalism?

    Methinks this woman may not have the common sense, good judgment, emotional stamina, toughness, and attitude that it takes to be an educator.

  34. Elaine M.,

    I am with you on this one….the Moral Turpitude clause should come into play more often….This type of insensitivity shows to be that she is not teacher material…. It reflects poorly on the school and diminishes teachers as a whole…..it also directly insults the objects of her mission and that it to educate and help the children learn….The last real gig I had before private practice was working for an affiliate of the NEA….

    I do not think that she should be allowed to come near a classroom unless to visit her own children….

    She checks her freedom of speech with respect to personal attacks on the school district and the children if it tends to bring them to an unfavorable light… when she signed on as a teacher…. Not that Collective Bargaining does not bring tempers to flair….

  35. Elaine,

    I have no issue with what you have said. Rights and their exercise, but especially the right to free speech, can have consequences. Just because one can do something doesn’t mean one should do something.

  36. Hey Buddha….Somebody actually read what I said…..damn….it is a good night I must say…

    Elaine,

    Does that mean I am going to need to keep a low profile so the teacher won’t notice what I am doing so I can do what I want to do…..did ya ever have kids that tried to get away with just a little bit of everything….

    Oh an for all of those celebrating special days….do what feels good….

  37. This is what Munroe wrote that brought tears to my eyes:

    In one sketch posted on the blog, an image of a bus tagged “Short Bus” appears under the slogan, “I don’t care if you lick windows, take the special bus or occasionally pee on yourself, you hang in there Sunshine, you’re … special.”

    It is evident that this woman has no respect for children with special needs. During my years in teaching, I had children with all manner of special needs mainstreamed into my classroom. Children with Downs syndrome, autism, severe emotional problems…children who were developmentally delayed. Life is difficult enough for these children and for their parents. They shouldn’t have to deal with teachers who don’t value them/their children…or teachers who speak disparagingly of them. The parents of some of my “special” students were amazing people. And I realized how truly special these children really were when I came to know them…and appreciate how hard so many of them had to work to achieve in school.

  38. AY,

    “…did ya ever have kids that tried to get away with just a little bit of everything….”

    Honey, the administration always gave me more than my share of those kids. We got along just fine most of the time. Of course, that may have been because I understood them so well. I was a bit of a devil myself when I was young!

  39. Elaine,

    You? Mischievous? I am shocked I tell you! Shocked! :) As an aside, I once had a teacher that insisted on butting heads with me. Not that I did anything to provoke it. Except maybe the five or six times I corrected her in class and had references to back me up. She decided to call me “Lucifer” one day in class and tell me I had the Devil in me. It was a semi-religious crappy private school. She was utterly stunned when I thanked her and told her being called the “light-bearer” in a room she regularly shrouded in ignorance was a complement.

    Needless to say, I was sent to the office.

    Much to her chagrin, the Principal thought my response was as funny as I did.

    And I did all that without Facebook.

  40. Buddha,

    You provoke a teacher? Hard to believe!

    ;)

    I was voted most humorous in my high school class for the senior yearbook. I attended a very strict parochial high school. I think it was my sense of humor that kept me sane. I also had some funny friends who were partners in crime with me. We never did anything bad though. Our parents would have killed us if we had!

  41. Elaine,

    Reading your post at 3:51 pm and the ones thereafter have caused me to rethink my original opinion on this matter … you are right.

  42. Elaine,
    I am sorry to take so long to respond. Part of the reason that people on blogs use “stage names” is to protect their jobs and lives outside of the blog. I have a blog that I sometimes say things that might be considered unprofessional, but it is not part of my profession and I don’t get personal. Her contract will control whether the district can get rid of her. If an attorney works for a law firm and writes bad stuff about the partners, odds are that the author will be looking for new employment very soon. But we are not talking public employees.
    As I mentioned to you earlier, I don’t disagree that this woman is probably unsuited for teaching, but she does have a right to make herself look stupid and to insult people if she wants to. I have had past employers checking my blog to see if I am making any disparaging comments about them, but they won’t find me doing that because as stupid as I am, I am not that stupid. Your students had a wonderful teacher that they will remember for the rest of their lives. The teacher that was fired won’t be able to say that, even if she is able to get her job back. By the way, you are exactly correct that humor can help you get through difficult times. However, my attempts at humor usually gets me in trouble! :)
    Buddha,
    one of these days we will have to compare notes on the “fun” stuff that happened to us in grade school. I have mentioned the good Benedictine Nuns before. I think some of them may still have nightmares about me! By the way are you left handed? The Nuns use to call left handed kids the devil’s kids and actually tried to make some of them write with their right hands. Luckily I was right handed.

  43. raff,

    Oddly enough, I was originally left handed, but a particularly evil kindergarten teacher literally forced me to use my right hand. The result is that I’m ambidextrous now in everything but writing, which I still do right handed. My mom (who was a young mom) has consistently said over the years that she regretted not taking that teacher on over the issue.

  44. raff,

    I should have also add I’m pretty sure that’s where my “question authority” attitude started to take hold. :)

  45. Buddha,
    That is amazing. I had a friend in grade school who was left handed and the Nuns worked him over pretty good, but he did stick to his guns. The only time my Mom ever backed me against the Nuns was when one of them stole my wallet and held it ransom until I agreed to buy a cake at a bake sale for the missions! Every other time, and there were many of them, she backed the good Sisters. They had a tough job though. I never had a grade school class with less than 50 students. Throw me into that mix and it is bound to explode!

  46. Buddha,
    I just saw your postscript. I too learned how and when to buck authority, but it was a tough lesson for me! I think it was my Irish thick head and my German grandfather’s stubborness. At least that is my excuse.

  47. Buddha,

    I presumed that Tull would have been your most favorite….

    Or A little Purple…… as we sit watching the water from the Newport festival…. Yeah those really must have been the good ole days….

  48. Elaine and Raf….

    You know I learned that its probably best not to go to sleep in Theology…

    I dozed regularly… One particular day the Priest came over to the desk and woke me up….He wanted to know why I always went to sleep in his class……well beings it was the early 70’s and I in my teen years…sassed off and said because the late night movie was more interesting than anything he had to say…..the next thing I recall ….still sitting in the uni-desk….was it was on its back and I was against the wall…..needless to say….I never said anything at home……

    The nest year about 14 of us were asked not to come back…. fine with me…..

  49. AY,
    I actually had something similar to that happen in public high school in a Biology class. I learned a little late not to sleep during this teacher’s biology film. My head still hurts from him slamming it against the lab table! I have to admit that I didn’t sleep in his class again. See you all on Thursday. I may not be posting tomorrow as I will be out of town.

  50. rafflaw,

    “I never had a grade school class with less than 50 students.”

    Sounds like my grammar school. I think you and I probably had similar parochial school experiences.

    *****

    Buddha,

    It took me a long time to learn how to buck authority. My husband was very helpful in giving me the confidence to do that–after I had spent twelve years as a student in strict parochial schools. In my early adult years, I also taught with some very articulate and fearless females who helped our local teachers’ organization negotiate its first contract. One of those females was an ex-nun who had taught in a parochial school in New York City. She was tougher than any man I’d ever met.

  51. Yep……. But then there was the candy assed Moody Blues….

    The good ole Knights in White Satin….

    Then the B-Side of Steppenwolf’s Born to be wild….

    Now exactly when does my tail grow for smoking…. but Monday came and I had to go back and be straight….

  52. Blouise,

    Teachers need an outlet for expressing their opinions and for venting their frustrations. A public blog, however, is not the place where a teacher should be making derogatory comments about her students, their parents, other teachers, and her administrators–especially if she is using profane or vulgar language. Something didn’t sit well with me with this story from the beginning. When I read more articles on the subject of this teacher and her blog, I was appalled by some of the things she had written.

  53. Elaine said:

    “She was able to write it. Now she has to deal with the consequences of her actions”

    You have just defined a meaningless right. Free speech rights are only valuable if they protect offensive speech. In your world, she would only enjoy free speech rights if she wrote charming things. That’s not what free speech rights are meant to protect.

  54. Elaine said:

    “Methinks this woman may not have the common sense, good judgment, emotional stamina, toughness, and attitude that it takes to be an educator.”

    This is why teachers need to be evaluated on how well they instruct their students in class and not on how they express themselves off campus. You don’t have a clue how she comported herself in the classroom, what passion she brought to he teaching, or how effectively she educated and inspired her students.

    Is there any evidence that this woman had bad evaluations, or bad interactions with students or parents on campus? Is there any evidence that she demonstrated a lack of “… common sense, good judgment, emotional stamina, toughness, and attitude that it takes to be an educator” on-the-job, in the classroom?

    You know what? What she wrote in her blog about her students is likely true – they probably ARE mostly a bunch of lazy, whining, self-entitled brats. Possibly because teachers are disallowed from telling it like it is in the classroom, because of the reaction from the people who raided up the lazy, whining, self-entitled brats – their parents.

    If my child was evaluated as a lazy, whining self-entitled brat by their teacher, I would like to know about it. Not to raise Cain about the teacher, but with my kid.

  55. i’m sorry, but i think the educational system in this country has been bastardized by too much meddling by the politicians imposing rules making it very hard to learn anything.

    Why have we continued to decline every year for the past 20 or 30 years to the extent that in math and science skills, i think we’re tied with Guam. Talk about “dumbing down” our educational system, we used to be world leaders, but those days are long gone. Even in higher education, if everyone goes to college, how much is a bachelor’s degree worth?

    All one gets out of college now is a worthless diploma and DEBT. So back up the pounding of this teacher for venting all you want, but the system is broken anyway and i don’t see anyone stepping up to fix it.

    The country is going down the tubes because we keep rewarding fraud and mediocrity. It’s all about who you know and not what you know. So much for the American dream – it’s now our nightmare to live out. Enjoy the ride down and out as the non-existent global climate change grinds on unabated, driving food prices higer, causes massive problems for infrastructure and plantlife, and keeps the morgues busy.

  56. “who raided up “~Gingerbaker
    ——————-
    what is this? I’m unfamiliar….

    “If my child was evaluated as a lazy, whining self-entitled brat by their teacher, I would like to know about it. Not to raise Cain about the teacher, but with my kid.”

    me too, but being aware of the timbre of the times, this teacher was f*cked the moment she crossed the line.

  57. “Why have we continued to decline every year for the past 20 or 30 years to the extent that in math and science skills, i think we’re tied with Guam. “

    It is my understanding, after very little research on my part, that it not so simple. When you look at U.S. national averages, yes, we are performing very poorly. But this is because some schools do extremely poorly, while most schools do quite well – among the best in the world.

    The schools that do poorly have students whose families are very poor. Generally, these families are newly immigrated; do not speak English as a first language; have both parents working, often at two or even three jobs. Yes, on the job 24 hours a day.

    The kids arrive in school not able to read in any language, can’t speak English, have bad nutrition, health etc, etc.

    The reason we have many schools not doing a good job teaching kids may not be the teachers at all, but may well be because we have so much poverty in our country compared to other places around the world. We can thank the Republicans for that.

  58. ““who raided up “~Gingerbaker
    ——————-
    what is this? I’m unfamiliar….”

    Sorry – should be “raised up”.

  59. oh duh, I should have gotten that…it’s early ;)

    I agree with what you are saying…there is more than meets the eye in our standings but if statistics prove it out…what then is the excuse for polyticians to continually raid the schools while they are struggling in favor of corporations that simply refuse to pull their own weight?

  60. It look like they are doing a good job of teaching at this school in Bucks County. It is a “blue ribbon” school. The standards are high. Having served on a school board at a private school, I know something about the standards a school must meet in order to receive this designation.

  61. Gingerbaker,

    “You have just defined a meaningless right. Free speech rights are only valuable if they protect offensive speech.”

    Are you suggesting that teachers should be able to say any kind of vile, hateful, and offensive things about their students, colleagues, administrators in a public forum and never be called to account for it? I think teachers should behave in a professional manner.

    I was a teacher for more than three decades. I was evaluated many times over the years. You can’t just evaluate a teacher, however, by observing him/her teaching in the classroom two or three times a year.

    Ms. Munroe used profane language when writing about her students on her blog. She spoke disprespectfully of them. The teachers I knew and/or worked with who were successful with their students planned interesting educational lessons/activities, engaged their students in the classroom, got them excited about learning, liked children, and worked to meet their needs.

    I’m not saying that teaching kids isn’t challenging–but it sure helps an educator to be successful if he/she actually likes kids. Kids can usually read people. They know how their teachers feel about them. They respond best to adults to respect and like them.

    BTW, if a teacher thinks a child is lazy, never does his/her homework, is rude, misbehaves, etc., the teacher should invite the parents in for a conference. That’s part of the job. It’s best to discuss a child’s behavior with the parents to see if the problems can be addressed. Bitching about your students on a blog accomplishes nothing.

  62. We have a lot of politicians and citizens in this country who are anti-science–some even appear to be proud of their ignorance. Many of them want creationism taught in science class. Teachers certainly have their work cut out for themselves these days.

  63. “Are you suggesting that teachers should be able to say any kind of vile, hateful, and offensive things about their students, colleagues, administrators in a public forum and never be called to account for it?”

    No. I am saying that this teacher’s blog, and what she says on it are protected free speech.

    The comment section of the newspaper article makes for very interesting reading. Quite a few teachers have made comments there.

  64. Gingerbaker,

    “No. I am saying that this teacher’s blog, and what she says on it are protected free speech.”

    Then what’s your point–that the school system cannot fire Munroe for what she wrote on her blog–or that no teacher can be fired for saying/writing any kind of vile, hateful, offensive things about their students, colleagues, administrators in a public forum?

  65. FYI
    FROM ACLU

    FREE SPEECH RIGHTS OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS
    Speech Outside of School

    Teachers do not forfeit the right to comment publicly on matters of public importance simply because they accept a public school teaching position. Teachers cannot be fired or disciplined for statements about matters of public importance unless it can be demonstrated that the teacher’s speech created a substantial adverse impact on school functioning. A teacher’s off-campus statements regarding the war or participation in an off-campus political demonstration are not acceptable bases for job discipline or termination.

    http://www.aclu-wa.org/news/free-speech-rights-public-school-teachers

    *****

    Some questions to consider:

    – Would Natalie Munroe’s blog posts about her students be considered a matter of public importance?
    – If so, did those blog posts create a substantial adverse impact on school functioning?
    – If what Munroe wrote about was not a matter of public importance, can she claim censorship of her free speech rights if she is fired?

  66. Elaine M.,

    I am in the Boat with you on this one…. Teachers can say whatever the hell they want to they are human….But if students or the school district are impacted….then that right is given up…. Kinda like yelling fire in a dark theater…. You have the right to but there better be a fire or the ensuring consequences could be substantial…..

    I once read about a teacher that was turning tricks… she did not keep her job….. and it was legal….she flew out to Nevada….

  67. Elaine M.
    1, February 16, 2011 at 12:34 am
    Blouise,

    Teachers need an outlet for expressing their opinions and for venting their frustrations. A public blog, however, is not the place where a teacher should be making derogatory comments about her students, their parents, other teachers, and her administrators–especially if she is using profane or vulgar language. Something didn’t sit well with me with this story from the beginning. When I read more articles on the subject of this teacher and her blog, I was appalled by some of the things she had written.

    =======================================================

    In a matter such as this it is always prudent to dig a little deeper which is what you did. I followed your lead and found that I agreed with your assessment 100%.

    I have had many interactions with teachers over the years concerning my own two children and then two of my grandchildren who lived with me. On the whole I can say that there were only two teachers with whom I disagreed to the point that I had discussions with Principals. That means there were literally dozens who, in my opinion, did a good job and at least 8 who did a superlative job. I can’t imagine any of them doing as Munroe did.

    All the children under my care received an excellent education and I wish that the school system in my town could be replicated across the country.

  68. Blouise,

    I was both a teacher and a parent. I know how hard most of the teachers at my school worked. Of course, I had a few teaching colleagues who were lazy, couldn’t keep control of their students, or who were incompetent. Most of those teachers didn’t last long. I brought my daughter to my elementary school and she got a wonderful, enriching education.

    My daughter did have a few doozies in middle school and high school. Only one of those teachers warranted my speaking to the principal about her classroom behavior. That teacher was a disgrace to the profession. She was cruel to some of her students. She made insulting remarks about them in class. IMO, the teaching profession should have no place for educators that like.

    BTW, when I read Munroe’s blog comments, that teacher came to mind.

  69. I’m for the kids.

    They could teach this woman a lesson: go after her on their Facebook pages and see how she likes it.

    Call her a nitwit (teachers are among the least educated college students). Demand she post her SAT scores. Call her a mindless statist pig towing the government line who probably would have trouble getting work, let alone honest work, elsewhere. Call her a slimy commie who, like the murderous commie Marxists of old, promoted unions.

    That might give abusive teachers second thoughts about criticizing their students in public.

    What a witch, these kids are FORCED to be in school. SHE IS NOT.

    She betrayed them.

    One of my all-time favorite movies and song:

    Also:

  70. Tootie 1, February 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I’m for the kids.
    ********************************************
    Dis for you Tootie
    You gots ta understan Trick luv da kids

  71. friggen WTF.

    Tootie:

    what is going on? That is some mighty harsh language. Are things OK? I am wodering if something has happened, you are really getting very close to the line.

    And I usually find your rants pretty funny and sometimes educational, there is more venom in them now. Are you OK?

  72. Seems to me that she needs another line of work. I don’t like some of my customers but I still kiss their ass and I don’t write about how stupid they are, I would certainly love to. But a roof over your head is more important than venting your spleen in a “public” journal.

    Get a dog and a bottle of scotch and take out your frustrations on the ice cubes and talk to the dog. They are usually very good listeners, especially if you have a leash on them.

    The children are the teachers “customers” and she needs to figure out how to serve them.

  73. Woosty:

    Look, the kids are defenseless. This woman might win in court. I wouldn’t be opposed to that.

    I’m not asking the kids to lie. The things I said are the truth as far as I can tell.

    And as much as I wouldn’t let my kids respond like that about a teacher, the pagans and infidels among us might like to send a message to her and people like her. And I was just suggesting how.

  74. Elaine:

    Oh. Very interesting. Thank you. Hopefully their parents stay involved. I hope the problem can be solved outside of court. I don’t want to see her lose her job either. But if she takes it to court and wins, I think the kids who were referenced have every right to point out her flaws.

  75. Tootie,

    I actually think Ms. Munroe may not have the temperament one needs if one is going to be a teacher. There are lots of frustrations one experiences in the profession–often on a daily basis. One needs to learn how to deal with them in a more appropriate way than she did.

  76. Elaine:

    I’m thinking you might be right, especially since she is 30 years old. I had the impression she was young (using Facebook). Then I went back and reread the story again and saw her age. That is not good.

    My son had a teacher who was just awful. I complained. Nothing happened. I was at school all the time volunteering for positions SHE made available to parents. This was to protect my son and to keep tabs on things.

    At the end of the school year (after a 9 months of my supplications to her) in private she told me she never knew why she went into education in the first place. Well, it was her word against mine and at least she admitted it to me, but there was nothing her admission could do.

    I could have felt vindicated by her statement, but instead I was sickened by it. They kept her on but there was nothing I could do since she said it to me in private.

  77. Education is the process of making our society able to effectivly communicate, able to compete in global markets, and able to be overall good citizens. America is spending billions of dollars on education and this is what we get “rude, lazy, disengaged whiners” from our money. If my son was classified as a rude, lazy, disengaged whiner that I am not doing my job as a parent. If this is the high expectation that we expect from our students, then we should stop spending money so that our people can be “rat like” “street walkers” because with out a good education that is what we will be. We have to remember what these people have to go through to get paid crap for having to deal with srewups.

  78. Reggie,

    Are the students that Munroe has been teaching truly “rude, lazy, disengaged whiners”…”rat like” “street walkers”–or is that Munroe’s perception of them?

    I was one of “these people” who didn’t earn a huge salary for being a dedicated and conscientious teacher. Still, I found my job rewarding–and I LOVED working with kids. If you’re the type of teacher who thinks all children are going to come to school without some kind of baggage or special needs and aren’t ready for the challenge of coming up with different approaches and methods for engaging and inspiring your students…then maybe teaching isn’t the profession for you.

  79. I prefer teaching adults because they have the desire to be there. They want to get an education. I am a very logic person and don’t have a lot of patience for students that don’t try. I know that they all have different levels of skills and everyone has baggage. I don’t feel that I could teach students because I don’t want to feel that my work would be for nothing. Public schools are disappointing some students and not fully preparing them for the global workforce, but not for a lack of desire on the part of the teachers.
    The issue that I take is the lack of desire that is found in some students, not all of them, they just seem as though other things are more important. Being a teenager is a hard thing, especially today. I can speak from experience that you teach because you want to make a difference. After all, private service would prove more lucrative.
    The truth most likely lies somewhere in that she was referring to certain students, but knew that she would get in trouble for making that public. She is frustrated and not sure how to deal with students that have not been trained to her level of education.
    As you know it is really a team of people including teachers, students, parents, and school administrators that make a good education for our youth. I have seen such a decline in parents’ interest in their children’s education. This is for various reasons.
    My issue is that why is this an issue. Why would she perceive that her students are rude, lazy, and dis-engaged? There has to be a reason for the way she believes this whether it is the truth or not. These kids a high school students and are old enough to have a sense of personal responsibility.

  80. Elaine,

    That was excellent!

    Thanks for sharing a poem more interesting for its brutal truth.

    I bet Mali is a really good teacher.

  81. I took a philosophy class in college, the textbook, W. H. Werkmeister, Introduction to Critical Thinking.

    Why did Dr. Capek not teach me that critical thinking was wrong?

    Writing about critical thinking is critical writing?

    Beware of art critics.

    Oops!

  82. “Well, Art is Art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now you tell me what you know.” – Groucho Marx

  83. RE: Buddha Is Laughing, February 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    “Well, Art is Art, isn’t it?

    ############################

    My mudder teached Englush befur she gotted murried. Her wud of sade, “Well, Art is Art, isn’t he?”

    I dundt kno tahat mens be its.

    Grmmas is harde.

    I lern be stopud.

    Thank you.

  84. I like what Elaine says best. But I also like freedom of speech, as I’m sure Elaine does.

    Still, these are children. And so it’s not a fair fight. It’s a very low blow. It shows she is cruel and unfit.

    I worked with youths (or “youts” a Vinny called them in My Cousin Vinny) for many years. I took the kids no one liked under my wing. I defended them and took their sides, even against adults.

    Though I worked with many of them, two of them have sadly died. Both in car crashes (in separate events in different states many years apart).

    One young man’s parents always appreciated that I stood up for their son and they let me know it. And he was really a bright, intelligent, and kind kid (he just always landed himself in trouble). When he wasn’t creating disasters he was hilarious.

    The other young man, I learned, died about a year ago. His mother called me. I felt bad because I couldn’t remember the boy. She seemed to guess that and described her son and spoke about how difficult it was for him to fit in as they had been new to the community. Then she read an evaluation card I had written about the young man’s progress. She told me she did not remember having read it at the time, but that the card meant so much to her now, especially in the light of the troubles the young man had. She told me she was going to include the note in a collage display at the funeral. It was one of the most touching things anyone has ever said to me.

    She was deeply moved that I intentionally wrote words of encouragement because SHE knew her young man was having trouble and she understood that I sensed it and tried to help him achieve more. Many times, parents are trying their best and nothing seems to work.

    You have to keep reaching out to young people. The tough cases even more. Precious few cannot be reached eventually.

    Mocking them is unacceptable.

    You will never EVER regret going the extra mile for difficult children and young people, even if you get your shins kicked from time to time. And you just might leave their parents with a precious remembrance should worse come to worse, and a troublesome child sadly does not survive living past his parents.

  85. As a teacher she needs to know that any wrong decision made either in class or anywhere else may cause her many problems. She should have discussed the problems directly with the parents of those students rather than presenting them on her blog.

  86. This is a learning experience for the teacher. Never, ever, write in an e-mail or a blog anything you would not want to see posted 20 feet tall on the side of a freeway. Welcome to the internet.

Comments are closed.