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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Filed under: Education • Pennsylvania • Technology
soundoff (684 Responses)
  1. Mattmchugh

    Just want to mention that I went to school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I can certainly sympathize with this teacher's lament.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JcReliever

    She has a right to speak or blog her opinion. And besides, she's right.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Judy Wood

    In the real world these whiny brats will someday have to hold down a job, unless their whiny parents are going to support them for the rest of their lives. If the student's are not prepared and have not done their assignments give the a big fat egg (you know, 0). A few of them will drag down a GPA like nothing else. I wouldn't argue with them. Just say no homework, no excuses, you get a 0.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Unfortunitly Judy, Some schools are now saying that a student can not receive a "0" because it damages their psyche and hurts their self esteem. My question is, when did America become so politically correct that correcting our kids is impossible? It's really pathetic and scares me because these clowns will be running the country someday.....

      February 16, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      Kat, I am glad I don't work in your district. Twenty percent of my students received "F's" on their mid-quarterly report cards. They were absent over half of the days and refused make-up work. We're in Parent-Teacher Conferences now. The adults are taking the make-up work offered to their kids 7 weeks ago. They have one week to complete it or they will fail at the quarter.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. Simon Templar

    As I read this board, it warms my heart to see the outpouring of support for this young lady. As a fellow teacher, I understand completely the frustrations that she has. Unfortunately, the phrase "these kids don't care" has become so overused that it is completely ignored on the occasions in which it is a living fact.
    It doesn't surprise me that the school suspended her. School administrators as a whole today don't have the backbone to place the blame for negative student behavior where it belongs. A teacher can only do so much to try and get through to a kid, and when kids begin to fight against the idea of learning, and every little act in the classroom becomes a Battle of the Bulge in itself, it's no wonder that teachers get burned out. We are the most accountable under No Child Left Behind, yet have the least real power in the schools.
    It might not be PC for a teacher to be saying this (as if I care, after all PC=BS), but I do not believe in No Child Left Behind. I believe that every child deserves equal ACCESS to an education, but it is not an unalienable right. And forgive me if I don't go home weeping every night because some snot-nosed little whiner won't get credit for my class because he/she is making a 27 with 45 unexcused absences. Some are made to be engineers, and some are made to be fry cooks. The so-called "education reformers" need to get a grip on reality.
    In the meantime, Mrs. Munroe continues to have my complete support, and my prayers.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. StevenRVogel

    It isn't her job to beat or coerce or induce civility and respect in to those kids. Her job is to teach them the educational skills they will need to be active as adults in our society, culture and economy. My experience with kids has been an overwhelming frustration with them Parents, if you can't talk your kids in to behaving and respecting the people charged with steering them in the right direction, please slap the snot out of them until they get the message. I don't care how you do it; just do it.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bearing Witness

    I work in a school. I have a teenage daughter. I still remember being in High School. She was dead-on in her comments. That's the way some kids are. She goes home after work, vents a little steam that wasn't directed to anybody specific, on her own damned time...and they suspend her?? Really??!!?? You can't even vent a few general, and truthful, comments about the people you pour your life and soul into without fear of reprisal from Big Brother? Pathetic. I hope she sues the living crap out of them and wins.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Katrina

    Maybe we should be talking about research based ways to prevent and deal with these students behavior problems! Train teachers in Positive Behavior Support (Google it if you don’t know what I am talking about) or think about bring in a behavior analyst to see if performing an Functional Behavior Assessment on the student can find out what is going on in their environment that is supporting these behaviors. Less complaining and more talking about what we can do to solve these problems in our schools.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      This has got to be the most idiotic reply I have read on here. You do not need a behavioral analyst to come in. The kids need to be held accountable. It is really simple. These wishy washy 'let's look for a reason to excuse this child's behavior...." It is just as bad as not giving a kid a Zero. Or "Let's give EVERYone a trophy!" I honestly have no more words to describe how silly this is.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      I hear you, I do. As a sped teacher in a self-contained day school for students with emotional disabilities so intense that their behaviors prevent access to the curriculum, I deal with FBAs and PBSPs all day long. They help. A lot. Until all teachers are trained to think in terms of environmental engineering, this is not going to happen. Even the IDEA does not mandate FBAs and PBSPs until a student has had a Manifestation Determination. It is impractical to make these types of accommodations for more than 2.5-5% of the total student population.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Glenn,

    You are right on. I'm a college professor as well and they allow kids in that are completely unprepared for college level work. My job is to teach COLLEGE material, not to go back and teach 7th, 8th or 9th grade material. If the kids can't handle the work, they WILL fail my class. Maybe their parents should take a good hard look in the mirror. They will find the problem....and the solution.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FCF

    TEACHERS ARE THERE TO TEACH NOT TO PARENT. BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS ARE A RESULT OF BAD- YES BAD – PARENTING. Blame lack of discipline and a reluctance to respect educators, which comes from kids upbringing, instead of a teacher being good or bad. Your kid's bad behavior, prevents my well behaved kid from learning well because his/her teacher is too busy writing your kid up instead of teaching my well behaved kid what he would like to learn.

    A teacher TEACHES and is not there to PARENT. What if for once, parents actually parent, instead of trying to push that RESPONSIBILITY ON A TEACHER?

    February 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      Kudos. Well said.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. CW

    Far too often there are a few kids who feel that they're the most important thing that exists in the classroom, and disrupt class time, forcing teachers to pay them attention, and turning time better spent for education into time for discipline. Those kids should just be sent home so the rest of the class that wants to spend their hours at school more productively. The ones who learn will be doctors and the ones who interrupt class will be the fast food workers. It may be politically incorrect, but that's how the real world works, we need both. Can't have everyone being smart, or there would be no one making food for us!

    February 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    To the college professor,

    You are right on. I'm a college professor as well and they allow kids in that are completely unprepared for college level work. My job is to teach COLLEGE material, not to go back and teach 7th, 8th or 9th grade material. If the kids can't handle the work, they WILL fail my class. Maybe their parents should take a good hard look in the mirror. They will find the problem....and the solution.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Not Your Student

    Seems you had nothing good to say about any of your students. To have a blog like that public is plain stupid. To teach while feeling such hatred for teenagers, ridiculous. Try teaching younger students.. ones prior to being too shy, or too dramatic.. or too mouthy. These poor kids couldn't win for losing with you. I admit we all have some problems with our jobs but to feel the way you do about the kids you're teaching? You need to be fired. Period.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      I dont see "hatred" in her comments at all. I see a lot of frustration with her students and the inability to get anything done about it. It is not the schools job to raise these children, that is the parents job. And DON'T blame it on 2 income homes. My parents both worked and I'm a nurse on the civilian side and military side and working on my Masters degree at the moment. The fact that my generation (30-ish) and below have a Burger King outlook on life. "I want it when I want it and how I want it." Kids in their pre-teen years, are typically not much better. I have a couple of friends that are teachers and I tell you, I wouldn't want that job for any amount of money....not worth the headache and heartache as you try to do what you love but are handcuffed by those who wont support your decisions to actually attempt to maintain order and discipline the trouble students so the students who want to learn can. Get over yourself, "Not Your Student". You're probably a parent of one of the kids she was talking about.

      February 17, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. estella

    She should not have been fired. Teachers are heroes. Parents need to grow some balls and discipline their kids. I sub teach and I am so disheartened by what I see-and I'm in a small town in the West. There's no reason for the disrespect and lack of desire to learn that I see in students. We parents are to blame. Then again, we MUST DEMAND GOOD TEACHERS ARE HIRED! We must put an end to tenure, too, so we can ensure there are good teachers, not burned out, angry, tired, or undertrained teachers who don't inspire or have the desire to teach the students. I guess it's a 3-pronged problem. I guess we could thrown society's ills in there, too. Regardless, she should not be fired for comments on her blog.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Compassionate no more

      It IS POSSIBLE to fire a tenured teacher who is not up to snuff! However if tenure is done away with, many, older, good, experienced teachers will be "fired" because the school district needs to trim the budget! Young,inexperienced teachers are just plain cheaper to employ!

      February 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe O.

    I was in 1st grade in Korea. When I moved to America, I had to repeat 1st grade but I spent 1st-6th grade re-learning what I learned in that 1 year in Korea. Says something about how behind American education system is. I took part in it, and I see the controversies of teachers being held accountable for the students' decisions.

    Teachers' jobs are to teach. You make teachers hold your kids' hands forever, they won't survive college. Also, isn't this America? Freedom of speech. It wasn't even used in the school premises but on an Internet blog. I understand if she said it to her class she might deserve some sort of punishment. Stop being soft and weak. Stop being overly judgmental. Now you're making teachers become some sort of professional counselor? You're saying it's the teachers' JOBS to parent them and teach them about life. That's the parents' job no matter how busy they are.

    Being 20 and academically suspended not too long ago, I'll admit that since high school I have been screwing around. I always blamed other things like problems at home and stuff but it was all me. I had my parents beat me for not doing one homework since I was a kid. If a student uses this as an excuse to slack off, then he's just making excuses. If you really suffer from serious problems at home, trust me you would be working your ass off in school so you can move out ASAP. I love my parents still because I honestly deserved it. I'm not emotionally sick or anything. I really did deserve to get hit when I slacked off. "Go to your room!" LOL that isn't a punishment or anything. You've just allowed your child to get away with something and your child will start pushing the boundaries to see what else he/she can get away with.

    Once students stop blaming other people or other things for their own responsibilities, they are mature and no longer lazy. They are no longer full of BS or excuses. You hear one word come from them blaming something (even if it is true), then he still uses excuse as a crutch to get away with his mistakes.

    I was exactly like a lazy, rude, inappropriate student not too long ago. Fortunately, I had a wake-up call from my own resolve. Now, I see the hypocrisy that came out of my mouth the past several years. And this applies to ALL adolescents. With the exception of the very few responsible. Good job to those parents. You really did something amazing. To the others, stop pointing fingers. You see the chain? The parents who blame this teacher for that comment is no different than the lazy and rude students that point fingers for things THEY are accountable for.

    Parents, have more faith in your kids. You don't have to hit them. You just have to help them realize that school is really the only option for them to be able to live the life they want. I had to find that out myself after years of dealing weed and flunking out of a community college. That's low. And I see plenty of friends I met from high school (fairly rich and prominent/well-respected school) that don't go to college and just live in their parents' house. But no, you're too tired from work. We ALL are tired from work. Stop thinking of raising kids as WORK and think of it as a privilege. People say you never truly experience love until you have kids. Stop taking it for granted. It ain't all fun and f'kin games when your kid makes serious mistakes. They may be a low percentage but that low percentage could be your child.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jdu

    why the heck is she getting a paycheck? I'm enemployed and would love a job.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
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