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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soundoff (684 Responses)
  1. Tai

    OK, enough said! I came from Vietnam where we are still poor but teachers are respected. We need it here in the US. I will not continue to complain but look to improve our systems here. There are always extreme sides of the story. In vetnam teachers can hit a student for not behaving, that is wrong. Here in US kids can do whatever they want and get away with it, and that is also wrong. Teachers are the first to lead all of us to engineers, doctors, lawyers, and many other fields. Yet they get paid nearly at the bottom of the spectrum. We've got to fix this.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dee Smith

    @Cynthia: Homeschooling is not the answer. There is more to getting an education than learning to read, write and do math. There are advantages to attending a public school and if you think you are doing just as good a job teaching your children as the teachers would you are wrong. What about band, cheerleading, chorus...oh, wait, you think your children should be able to participate in all of that, I forgot.
    Sorry, I think homeschooling produces little snobs. What is needed is to give power back to the schools and the teachers. Bring back dress codes and paddling and require the parents to either back the schools up or find another alternative. I know, the bad ones can join your homeschool co-op.

    I completely disagree with you regarding home-schooling. In many cases I have found home-schooled children more outgoing, empathetic, well-adjusted, personally disciplined and generally informed than their public/private school counterparts, and test records (you do know that home-schooled students are still required to take state general education tests, yes?) bear out that home-schooled children are generally more competent demonstrating they have learned the basics. And home-schooling requires their parents to be actively involved in their child's education, unlike our current, unfortunate nanny state style of public education.

    Now, once demonstrating proficiency in cheerleading, or football, or choir becomes part of general competency exams, and home-schooled children fail miserably on those part of the exams, I will seriously consider home-schooling to be a more than viable option for those families willing and able to make that commitment. Your mileage, of course, obviously varies.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Brian

    I am an educator at the college-level, and not a tenured professor. There's no way I'd become a teacher at any level in this country. Parents in this country want to hold teachers accountable for their job, but don't lift a finger to help raise their salary and then become upset when they hear a teacher talk about their experience with your lazy, rude child. I'm sure she'll miss her paltry $21,000/year job. Meanwhile your child gets to move into yet another overcrowded classroom in an underfunded school district since they lost 1 more teacher (near impossible to replace these days.) To think she might win a lawsuit and this blog about your lazy rude child could end her money problems.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. workingtaxpayer

    We have high expectations for teachers and absolutely low standards for students. I support her right of free speech. High school students get a free education at the taxpayer's well. Stop nailing a teacher to the cross. Time to address the absentee parents. How many kids show up to school in the newest designer clothes, cell phone, i-pod, but no pencil nor completed homework?

    February 17, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      Even worse - how many of your students don't show up at all? I recently failed 20% of mine because this missed almost to over half of the days and did no make-up work.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. LEB

    No, it's NOT her job to set students on the right educational track. Her job is to teach, and to teach effectively enough that the students learn the material. If the students are disruptive, unwilling to learn, don't care about education, and/or have learning disabilities that the parents refuse to seek treatment for, that's not Ms. Munroe's job to fix. She can't make students value education... but she CAN enrich the lives of students who want to learn.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. iamtired

    What gets my butt fired up these days are that these are the same lazy, rude, ill-mannered,stupid kids employers keep hiring over and over instead of really qualified people because they can get them cheap. I see it every day at work.They spend all day on the phone or texting Which makes my work load harder and longer.Every person on this planet has,had, or have a teacher in their lives yet they are the most unapprieciated and under payed people on the planet.They get threatened, swore at, insulted and ridiculed even by these snot nosed kids parents all the time. But these are the same stupid parents that give 8-16 years a cell phone and laptops thinking its helping them when in reality they are adding to the problem.You really think they use it for school. NOT... It's facebook and my space at school while their parents are not around.We have lived millions of years without any of this stuff and never was worse for wear, and people were actually more intelligent..Now they rely on these things to do their thinking for them.Show me ONE kid that can add or subtract WITHOUT a calculator or computer and do it in their head or on paper. Oh wait the only paper they know what to do with , is tolilet paper and money. The money part is iffy because they CAN'T ADD or SUBTARCT to know how much to give or receive back.Oh wait I forgot Mommy and Daddy gave them charge and debit cards. So much for math. I feel the earth is doomed in the future because these are the same kids that will be running it.At least in the U.S.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. iamtired

    All I can say is " December 21,2012" every thing will be different. Bye Bye power grid......Helllo pioneer days. YEAAAA

    February 17, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kim

    What's sad is that we live in a country that prides itself on free speech, but yet, when someone exerts that right, toes are stepped on. Are people seriously this sensitive that a job is on the line??? She posted on a personal blog, people! It's not as if she posted it on the school's website or CraigsList with the school's name and/or all of the names of her students!! Guess what? A ton of high school students ARE rude, lazy, disengaged whiners!! Yeah, and, so??? I normally don't climb up on my soapbox, but honestly, I am sick and tired of how politically correct this nation has become!!! It doesn't matter if she posted these things or not, because she's obviously feeling these thoughts!!! So what's next? She's going to be condemned for thinking it??? Oh, puh-leeeze. That principal needs to get a grip, let her go back to work, let it be known this is a warning and to be cautious with what she posts in the future, have this story be a lesson learned to all teachers nationwide, and for those who are upset, I'd suggest you pull up your big boy and big girls pants and find something more important to moan about!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. Yesbutno

    I wonder if anyone in this teachers union supports NPR. She should sue the school district and then apply for a spot over at Fox. At least they understand the word common sense. If i were a teacher, i would not teach anyone higher than 5th grade. I think the prison system needs to take over from grades 6-12.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. mgj

    I believe we will have to go to a military boot camp style of education, to save this generation of students. Many of them can only be saved if they are separated from their parents. Even with severe military discipline, many US kids simply do not have the intelligence to do science and math. We will have to accept that, and provide alternative educational opportunities, like trade school. Otherwise, a large percentage of our kids will be unemployable. And we must stop paying our worst citizens to have big families. It is destroying our nation's future.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. Taco Lady

    Don't let the dismal situation in schools deflect you from the issue at hand. This woman used a public blog to mock and make fun of her students. This wasn't a one on one conversation in the teachers lounge about what kids are a mess in class. This wasn't an essay on the perils of teaching unruly kids. She used words and terminology that she wouldn't use if she discussed the kids with their parents. There is such a thing as tact and she didn't use it. Also who in 2010-11 doesn't know that you can be fired by your employer for unprofessional conduct on the net especially if you reference your job? Don't make excuses for this woman. Yes our schools are a mess but this teacher is also a mess and probably needs to seek another profession. If she really wanted to have a "discussion" she should have wrote a letter to the editor of her local paper.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Andy

    I understand where she is comin from for bout 2 years i taught preschoolers and I had a child to hit me in my stomach hard wit a wooden block while i was 7 months pregnant and our school caught it on video we showed it to his mother and she laughed at wat he did dat upset me and because of da stress ha son caused me i went into early labor because his mom didnt take da situation serious his first year in public school he got kicked out i bet she wasnt laughing den

    February 17, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. theretheirthey're

    hombresincamisa: Nevermind, I see why you teach math.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rebecca

    To the PhillyBurbs.com commentor quoted in the story – no, it is NOT Mrs. Munroe's "JOB to get through to these problem students and put them on the right educational track".

    IT IS THE PARENTS' JOB to:
    1) "get through" to their "problem" children
    2) teach those "problem" children how to behave with respect and consideration for others, and
    3) have their children show up at school prepared to spend a productive day learning about reading, writing, math, science, etc.

    It is Mrs. Munroe's (and other teachers') jobs to teach them about reading, writing, math, science, etc. It is the PARENTS' JOB to teach their children how to be decent human beings.

    And no, I'm not a teacher, not married to a teacher, not otherwise related to a teacher, and do not have children in school who have been bullied by a disrespectful "problem student. I'm just someone who is sick of parents who think that it's other people's jobs to discipline their children.

    And oddly enough, it tends to be those same parents who expect others to discipline their children (because they don't want to deal with it) who complain about *how* their child is disciplined when the teacher (or school office manager or school principal or another concerned parent) steps in to do the parent's job...

    February 17, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. howlyn

    This woman is stupid not because of what she said. She is stupid not because of who she is . She is stupid because she published her thoughts on the internet. And stupid should be dismissed.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
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