Teacher Natalie Munroe defends blog comments about 'whiny' students
Teacher Natalie Munroe says her blog posts griping about students were not meant for public consumption.
February 16th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

Teacher Natalie Munroe defends blog comments about 'whiny' students

A Pennsylvania English teacher who called her high school students "rude, lazy, disengaged whiners" on her personal blog is standing by her comments after being suspended from her position over the controversy.

"I'm sorry it was taken out of context but I stand by what I said," Natalie Munroe told ABC's "Good Morning America" Wednesday.

The 30-year-old expecting mother said she wrote the posts on natalieshandbasket under the name Natalie M. with the intention that only friends would read the blog. The posts are no longer available on the blog but searchable in a cached version of the site.

"I was writing it not about anyone specific. They were caricatures of students that I've had over the years, things that I would say if we weren't limited in the canned comments that we're allowed to write. And again, it was partially meant tongue in cheek for me and my friends."

In several posts between August 2009 and November 2010, Munroe vented her frustrations - and shared a few positive experiences - with students she found to be "out of control" and lacking "honor and good moral character."

She has been suspended with pay, and her lawyer said she is waiting to see how the school will proceed before deciding whether to take legal action.

"It was not meant for everybody to see but if it's going to get out there, maybe it'll start a conversation that needs to be had," Munroe told ABC.

And boy, did it ever. The subject has topped Google trends and Twitter for the past two days, sparking heated discussions online and in real life over whether Munroe was out of line.

"Her comments about her students may or may not be on point. But as an educator, isn't*** her JOB to get through to these problem students and put them on the right educational track?" said one commenter on PhillyBurbs.com, the hometown newspaper of Bucks County, where Munroe teaches.

"To me, it seems as if Ms. Munroe is more preoccupied with complaining about her students than she is educating them. Her 'canned comments' look like something an eighth-grader would come up with. It's not helpful to anyone, and just illustrates how ineffective she must be as a teacher."

The controversy has also generated discussion on the timeless topic of what's up with kids today, anyway?

"She is 100% correct. There is no way she should lose her job," a Huffington Post commenter said. "When will we start holding parents accountabl­e? Perhaps if we make it a crime - a form of child abuse - to send a child to school unprepared, perhaps parents will become more engaged. If parents are fined for their child's behavior, maybe it'll knock some sense into both parents and child. I've taught in public schools and let me tell you it is hell for the teacher and any kid that really wants to learn," a Huffington Post commenter wrote.

As the controversy grew over the weekend, Munroe wrote a post titled, "Where are we going & why are we in this handbasket," lamenting that the public had latched "onto pieces of what I wrote without A. knowing any back story, and B. knowing the whole story."

She also noted that of 84 blog posts, 60 of them had nothing to do with school and work.

"Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, I didn't - and don't - feel negatively toward all students. As I mentioned in another blog that nobody chooses to talk about, there were delightful students in school, too. I fondly discussed some wonderful students who shined in the school's Jazz and Poetry Festival, and I even said that I was proud to be part of the school at events like that," she wrote.

"But the fact remains that every year, more and more, students are coming in less willing to work, to think, to cooperate. These are the students I was complaining about in my blog. The same way millions of Americans go home at the end of the day and complain about select co-workers or clients or other jerks they had to deal with, I came home and complained on my blog about those I had to deal with."

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  1. Rethink

    "rude, lazy, disengaged whiners" (by Ms. Monroe)

    VS.

    "I'm sorry it was taken out of context but I stand by what I said," (by CNN)

    Ms. Munroe actually got her commas right, whereas CNN did not. Perhaps CNN should hire her.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Been There

    As a teacher myself, I share some of the frustrations of this teacher and sometimes I share them with my friends and family. The mistake is posting them online. I warn my students about their unrealistic expectations of privacy when they post information on the Internet. This teacher should have also thought about this even if her blog was intended only for friends and family (and even if it was restricted to just that group) because any one of these people could have passed it onto someone else for whom it was not intended. In any case, she does have a right to speak her mind.

    Where I disagree is with her generalization of the kids she teaches. Not all kids are whiny, disruptive, irresponsible, etc. In fact, in my career (and I am only speaking from personal experience), I have found that the majority of the kids WANT to succeed in something; however, in this day and age, kids are used to immediate gratification ("don't know the answer? No need to figure it out on your own. Just Google it!). They have little experience with working towards a long term goal, persevering, and working hard (and maybe failing to achieve the goal the first time). So when they are faced with the challenges of a class where expectations are high and the content is difficult the first thing many of them might do is whine (I can't tell you how many times I have heard "This is too hard!"). As teachers and parents, we need to teach the skills necessary to overcome these shortcomings. That means parents, for instance, shouldn't give in to kids' demands to buy something they want. Make them save up for it with money they earn from working/chores/odd jobs etc. (An aside: DON'T PAY THEM FOR GRADES!). For teachers that means creating problem based lessons and breaking up instructional tasks into smaller pieces so the students can see incremental success towards the learning objective. Will any of this stuff help eliminate the "whininess?" Probably not immediately but if we start to make kids understand that "success" only comes before "work" in the dictionary (to paraphrase Vince Lombardi), then maybe they will be less whiny because they will see the value of working towards their own success. And for motivation...forget grades! Show me you understand and "know" the content and you get to move onto something else, perhaps in an area where you have more of an interest. For instance, I teach history. Show me you know the essential history of the course and maybe then you can work on a long term project on the history of video games, as an example. Grades are absolutely meaningless these days because they don't measure the right things. What they measure mainly is rote memory, test-taking skills, and trivia. I want to measure mastery, understanding, and skills. No standardized test to date really measures any of that. If students know that grades are meaningless, can you blame them for not wanting to do meaningless work for a meaningless grade or to pass a meaningless test?

    Lastly, I am going to address those people who think teaching is cushy job with lots of benefits and time off. I have a Master's degree. The average salary for US workers with this level of education is about $90,000. I make half of that. So in return for the fact that I make considerably less than a person with the same level of education, I get 9 weeks off in the summer. So, would you trade $45,000 for 9 weeks of vacation? Sure, you say, that might be true but you get other time off when the schools are closed. Yes, and the average accrued vacation for non-teachers in a white collar profession is 4 weeks. Which you can take use at any time pretty much. I can only go on vacation at the same time as 90% of the rest of the schools in America. Ever go to Disney World at spring break? Most of America is right there with you. It is true that my school district pays for the majority of my health benefits. But most white collar employers also pay at least a portion of their employees health benefits. It is also true that, at least for the time being, that I will get a pension as well, towards which I pay a portion of my salary. And unlike many companies who offer 401k's, my contribution is not voluntary. Oh...and by the way, if you pay into a 401k or other retirement fund, and your employer matches your contributions (which is the case in about 38% of the employers in the USA), then you are in the same boat as me. Just...you make more money than I do probably.

    To close, I love being a teacher. I love when kids succeed. I get frustrated when they don't want to work towards that success. I might even yell a few times during the year. I am human.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Why is it that when teachers and other government employees complain about pay, they conveniently leave out their benefits, retirement, etc? In addition to their summers off, they also get tons of holidays that they fail to add into their benefits. Oh yea, how about their protection from getting fired because they do something stupid, aren't qualified for the job they're in, or are just lazy. (I'm not just talking about teachers here) All of these would get you fired from a "higher paying" job. In other words, you have to be better in the private sector even though you may have the same level of college degree.

      Let's make an apples to apples comparison and see where the numbers fall.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jerseycool

    amen, this teachers a hero, here come the politically correct wusses telling her to recant her story, dont do it !! shes so right, these kids today are nothing but punks, pants down low wisemouths. Parents always say OH NO NOT MY KID, ya right, you wish, your mostly the problem these spoiled lil turds are the way they are. Parents basically give these kids what they want to shut them up, parents could care less to spend time with these freaks of nature, as a parent you have ZERO control, facebook, cellphone texting, trashy media is running your kids lives, so get your head out of ur butts and your comfy little bmm's and face reality. Your little babies arent so perfect, there monsters with no respect. Im so glad this teacher said it, shes spot on. so glad I dont have kids !! I see not ONE benefit to it.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dwt

    Since when were blogs about privacy?

    February 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jerseycool

    BEENTHERE stop whining and making excuses, your right not ALL kids are whiners just 90% so stop being politically correct, poltical correctness is what made our nation a bunch of little sissies. No wonder chinas taking over the world. In china your spoiled lil brats would get a belt.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Been There

      Not whining or making excuses nor am I trying to be politically correct. What I am saying is that if kids are whiny "sissies" as you call them, what is going to change that? You propose one thing and I propose another. Neither of them may work, but either way, shouldn't we agree that we should try something? This teacher wasn't suggesting a solution to this problem, she was just venting. At least you and I are addressing the problem (although I don't agree with you).

      And what country we are in doesn't matter at all. If we were in China, you wouldn't be able to criticize Chinese society because if you did, you would be put in jail. So sure, Chinese students might get the "belt" but then we wouldn't know about it. Oh...and also just as a point of record, all the comparisons of how other countries are eating our lunch when it comes to education are not valid. Most other countries, China included, only test their BEST students on math and science. The United States tests EVERYONE. If we tested only the best and brightest, I doubt these comparisons would be an area of concern.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. andrew

    OK I'm confused! Why is this news? do I make news or even get in trouble if I say the sky is blue??

    What's all this about? Why is this a controversy? Is our country in such a bad shape and idiot parents and kids so easily offended that we put people in trial who say the sky is blue and the moon is round?? someone please enlighten me!

    February 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gnuut

    Her comments about her students may or may not be on point. But as an educator, isn't her JOB to get through to these problem students and put them on the right educational track?"

    NO – that is the job of their parents. Far too many parents shouldn't be as they are incapable of raising anything but "rude, lazy, disengaged whiners", since they themselves are exactly that.

    Where is Darwin when we need him?

    February 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. T3chsupport

    No, it's not her job to put those kids 'on the right educational track' AT ALL. That is ONLY the job of the parents. Her job is to teach them, which is different than motivating them and getting them to give a crap. Parents rely too much on teachers to raise their kids for them, and don't teach them any work ethic at all. They ARE lazy. They ARE whiny.

    You can be sure that the person who got offended did so because she was sure she was talking about her own kid, even if she didn't say anything particular to anyone. If she doesn't like it that her kid gets called out for being a loser, maybe she should try raising a kid who's not a loser.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sarah

    This is the reason why the US is going to be a third rate useless cow country in the future! We can look for strawmen all over the place and put false blame on things like currency manipulation, unfair trade practices etc! those things are easy to fix! BUT BS like this that is us and until we fix our own stupidity our country is going down the tubes! truth is we bring this on ourselves because of BS like this!!!! We need more teachers like her! and in all honesty we need to start beating some of the kids we have today!!

    February 16, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JanetMermaid

    Today's teenagers ARE "rude, lazy, disengaged whiners". They have everything they've ever wanted. They are part of the "everybody gets a ribbon" generation so they've never known failure or what it means to come in last, or even to not win. They have a rude awakening in their futures when they enter the "real world" of work, housing, taxes, etc.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Patrick

    As a teacher, I can definitely concur with the idea that teens today are spoiled, lazy, insolent, and rather dumb. Cell phones and iPods keep the students distracted from anything meaningful, and they loudly complain when forced to do any work. Sadly, most teachers have simply given up: Few classes have any writing assignments, grades are often heavily curved, and students are always allowed to turn in late work, even up to the end of the grading period, with minimal loss of points. Basically, the lazy and stupid kids have scored a major victory – classes are dumbed way down from where they were even 10 years ago. Everything has been changed to make students' grades look better than they honestly are.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. hat

    "...her JOB to get through to these problem students and put them on the right educational track"

    It's probably not a matter of these being "problem students" but of being problem people. Raising responsible, respectful kids is a parent's job.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    This country is really starting to look more and more like the movie Idiocracy. Watch the movie and tell me that it's not happening. Just look at the student's writing below if you need an example.

    "i'm a student, and i can't say that i entirely agree. some kid ..." Do we need more proof than this that the students, teachers, and parents are failing? Letter grade requirements have fallen so that more students can pass and feel good about themselves. Student grammar is terrible. I regularly get flyers from our teachers that have misspelled words or words that are spelled correctly, but are the wrong word (their vs there vs they're). I have a son in college and have met many of our future "teachers". Many of them are going into teaching because they cannot pass the advanced math, science, and other courses. It's sad really.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • rikki

      Ever since i saw that movie, I've been saying the same thing.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Apple

      Steve, I've just have to say you're probably the nuttiest person who has posted. Why don't you work in a school for a year and see how you feel about education and teacher.
      Yes, we teachers have it made. Weekends off, a few of the federal holidays so we can sleep-in, 8 weeks of summer vacation- oh wait, most teachers have second jobs to pay the bills. Vacations?? Try summer school– have to take graduate classes to maintain my certificate.
      Steve you have no clue what teachers do on any given day. You make snap judgments based on a few people you've met.
      Does anyone know someone who has not complained about their boss or co-workers? I could spend days complaining about the nonsense that goes on in my school. However, I'm tired after having worked 10 hours at school and another few hours at home on school related work. I have to get up in 6 hours to start it all over again.
      That's the life of a teacher.

      February 16, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JeramieH

    Makes sense, the whiny parents of whiny kids are here... whining.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. janet

    Kids should come to school prepared and respectful.It's the parents job to prepare them.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
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