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. drdeb

    J Where have you been? College professors now have to defend their grading of students and are overturned if they did not spell out in detail on day 1-the syllubus, criteria for grades, formula for weight of assignments etc. We have nurtutred a generation of "I deserve and want" but "I do nothing to ear it." Parents demand the schools do everything, including toilet train their kids and the laws have backed them up. Too bad she had the poor judement to post the blog. She speaks the truth about many students.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Segalla

    Ms. Monroe probably forgot that "whiny" children may have been encouraged by a "whiny" system supported by "whiny" parents. It is a poor reflection on the school district and the school principle that this story hit the national news. It is a poor reflection on all of us that we tolerate inattentive children in our schools. Education is too important to the future of our economies and the success of our children to distract ourselves with bickering and blaming the messengers.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Yep. Ironic – and sad – that the "villan" here is the teacher who is frustrated by the inappropriate behavior of the students, rather the "whiny" students themselves. Not only is she expected to put up with and overcome such behavior, but she isn't allowed to voice her opinions about their whininess and rudeness. Folks, we're sitting backwards on the horse , facing the wrong direction, and going no where.

      February 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. R

    I teach at a university. I taught at a university were the students had high ACT scores, but they were a bunch of spoiled, whiny brats. Any work that interfered with their ability to drink and party from Thursday through Sunday was simply too burdensome. I left that place because of the students. I am now at a place were many of the students are immigrants or first generation immigrants, and those who are not immigrants have to work to get through college. The difference is amazing – no whining, etc. I understand her statements, and anyone who hasn't taught has no clue as to the real situation.
    To "J" the students blame the professor when they fail. To Amy, it's not slander if it's true.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • delrose1

      Agree with you R. I also worked within the public school system for several years and it was obvious that our youth today want everything handed to them. The obnoxious behaviors displayed in the classrooms and hallways did not originate as they entered the school doors, but were behaviors that parents did not curb. I to left the school system because as educators our hands are tied. Congrats to you in finding rewards in teaching young people who want to learn

      February 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ron

    As a teacher she needs to act her age and be a role model. Not stoop to the level of the kids she is trying to teach.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT

      kids today stink and arent like kids of the past that actually were respectfull..

      February 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kelly in PA

    I'm not denying that there are children who are lazy and disengaged, just as there are adults who are. Some of the adults who fit the bill are teachers. My children have had some good and some awful teachers. I don't know if Mrs. Munroe is a good teacher or a terrible teacher. I do know that I am growing increasingly frustrated with teachers complaining about their jobs, their students and their students' parents. I'm not sure how teachers' unions work in other districts, but in ours, teachers are tenured after 2 years of service. That means they are basically guaranteed a job for life with no performace evaluations or risk of termination unless they do something criminal. They pout and complain and engage in passive-aggressive behavior when contracts are being renegotiated because they are asked to contribute $25 a month to receive full medical/dental/vision benefits for their whole families. They demand 5% pay increases when the rest of the country are taking pay cuts and paying more money for less benefits. They work about 200 days/year and make up to $95,000 annually to teach 1st grade. How can teachers in this scenario, who work fewer hours for better pay than most of the rest of us, complain about children being spoiled or lazy or demanding? My husband and I work more every year for less. We teach our children to work hard and not to expect something for nothing. It would be nice if the examples being set for them by educators were the same.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • DCG

      They pout and complain and engage in passive-aggressive behavior when contracts are being renegotiated because they are asked to contribute $25 a month to receive full medical/dental/vision benefits for their whole families.
      ====================================================
      I'd love to hear about that district. I will have to pay 1000 per month for a family and that is with 2500 copay. Send me the information please. Better yet, post those school districts here. I'm thinking of moving.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • MOE

      Ok for one thing even with tenured you can be replaced. All tenur gets you is a fair shot if a principal comes in and just does not like you she can not just dump you. It also backs you from students and parents attacking you and yes I have had those that feel life should be given to them and if it is not they make up lies. Two I wish I got paid 95,000. I am in my 5th year teaching and make about 35,000 now. I also pay 30% of my own benefits do not get paid in the summer and spend about 3,000 easily to supply my students who's parents chose not to buy supplies their supplies. I also buy daily snack for my students so they do not go hungery buy lunch some days for some, buy them clothes when all they have is the same ones every day and other things needed to succeed. I am also not allowed to charge for tutoring which I do before school and after school for free. And if there is ever a problem it is always what are you doing to make them pass not what can the parents help with.

      We have become a society that it is only the teachers job to get kids to learn and if parents help that is justs bonus. I am not asking for more money or less work but a thank you once in a while or good job wold be nice. There are more state mandated testing and data notebooks and portfolios and keeping journals on students that I wuld love to have time to teach like everyone complains we do not do.
      I am sure that there are bad teachers just like there are bad employees in every profession,

      But before you judge our "complaints" come work a day in our shoes in an urban environment which most schools are becoming then complain about us.

      As long as this woman has not used specifics or names then I see nothing wrong with complaining or venting we all need it.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • tomtg

      Debra, you make teaching sound like such a great job, I just wonder how come you are not taking advantage of all those benifits yourself.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lindyrb

      I want to know where you have teachers making 95K to teach first grade! I'll send my daughter over there – she plans to start teaching this next year and is looking at more in the $40K range (if she's lucky). My mom taught first grade for 38 years and never made more than 60K even with an MS and all that seniority. And YES many kids are whiny brats who, when you try to discipline them, whine to their parents who come racing to school to whine for them even more. (At least we know where the kids learn the behavior from.) If the parents would hold the kids to a higher level of expected behavior and performance, not just the teachers but the whole country would benefit.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      I don't know where you live but I live in Texas. I have taught 25 years for the same district and made 45,000.00 this year. Many days I work from 7:00-9:00. I grade close to 125 essays every two weeks because my legislatures demand it and my job depends on it. If my students do not pass the TAKS I am reprimanded even if the kid didn't bother to read the questions on the test. I normally spend my day in a very small room with 30-36 prepubescent students that have called me every name and the book along with some parents simply because they don't like to follow the rules and be told what to do. I do this because there are some students that really want to learn and I feel obligated to do my best to help them. If I had known 25 years ago what I know now I would have never gone into this field. I have encouraged my own children to stay away from teaching. Sure there are a few "bad apples" but aren't there in any line of work? I simply ask anyone to do what I do for one month before they judge me.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • In Amazement

      Where did you get this information? It is certainly not factual. Check the facts on teacher salaries – $95,000 a year? Teachers work 180 days a year in most states and are paid for that time only. They are not paid for vacations. Also when figuring out work days a year, don't forget that virtually all workers get 7 holidays and have 104 weekend days off a year. Add those together = 144 and add four weeks vacation (probably more for many). This brings the work year to: 180 days + 104 weekends + 7 holidays + at least 20 more work days = 311 days. Leaves about 1 1/2 months during which time most teacher take courses, prepare for the coming year, and attend workshops that deal with developing curriculum and new programs to improve student achievement. Also, I don't believe there is any school district in the U.S. where teachers are granted tenure with no form of evaluation or assessments of performance after that. Teachers are evaluated at least 2-3 times per year and need to renew their licenses usually every 5 years. In order to do that, professional development hours must be logged which can be obtained from attending many workshops and/or taking graduate level courses. One last point, please don't forget all of the unpaid hours teachers put in chaperoning school events, helping students who need additional assistance, organizing and running clubs (usually for little to no stipend), and just being there to listen to the many kids who don't have anyone else to talk to. Please think before you comment...

      February 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • swin

      I'm a retired Pennsylvania school teacher. While I agree with some of your statements, I want to make a few points:
      1. I'd like to know where a grade school teacher in Pennsylvania makes $95,000.
      2. Yes we work less than 200 days a school year – SCHEDULED. But we are salaried employees – I would estimate that I put in on average 2 days of home preparation time for every 5 scheduled school days. I taught high school – elementary teachers put in even more time.
      3. Did you know that the average teacher spends nearly $1000 out of their own pocket on supplies that their school districts are too cheap to provide and often times buy clothes and meals for their more disadvantaged kids?
      4. You have no idea what tenure means. Tenure is NOT a guaranteed lifetime job. It is merely a level of professionalism that has been attained that guarantees that you will not be dismissed for arbitrary reasons and guarantees that due process must be followed if you are to be dismissed.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Macie

      @Kelly in PA: I don't think you have been well informed about how pay is determined for public education. As a teacher for four years I am actually making less this year than I did when I first started teaching because the state continually cuts the education budget and I am asked to choose between taking a 10% pay cut through furlough days or lose my job completely. A teacher only makes $95,000 after 30+ years of service or attaining high levels of academic standing (Masters or PhD.). I can tell you honestly that I have friends my age (mid-twenties) who have the same level of education as I do, but are engineers at companies making satellites and rockets; they spend most of their workday on facebook and playing minesweeper and they make more money than I will in twenty years as a teacher. And as for working only 200 days a year, yes, that is true. However we spend our summers attending professional development courses that are usually paid out of our own pocket. And as for weekends, well, I haven't had a free weekend since I chose this job. I can't stand it when people say to me, "it must be nice getting out of work at 3pm!" HA! I usually arrive at work before the sun comes up and am still there long after the sun goes down. I work about 10-12 hours a day, but only get paid for 8 – there is no such thing as "overtime" for teachers. All the extra time spent lesson planning and grading is unpaid. Other occupations wouldn't stand for this for a minute, but teachers are almost expected by society to be beyond selfless and never complain. In today's economy, that is getting harder and harder. My pile of grading doesn't get smaller simply because I'm being paid less, and netiher does my rent. And as others have commented, I spend thousands of dollars on my classroom each year on materials, technology, and books intended to improve my teaching for your child. Only about $250 of that is covered on my taxes. And tenure does not guarantee that you get to keep your job, it just protects you better from unfair firing. I have been pink-slipped every year that I've taught because there just wasn't enough money to pay all of us. If my students don't perform well enough on the state mandated tests (which they will openly admit to not trying their best on), I can lose my job. What other occupation can you think of where a person's job relies on the performance of someone ELSE?

      I agree with this teacher – a large number of students today are unmotivated, un-disciplined, rude, and make my job twice as difficult because I have to be an educator, entertainer, nurse, disciplinarian, and social worker all at the same time. Many parents are too busy being their child's "friend" to be their parent, or are too busy with their careers to recognize their child is struggling. I have had students tell me that I'm the first person to ever tell tehm "no" or discipline them – and I teach high school! I have had students who consistently arrive late to school because their parent didn't want to get up to drive them to school, parents who don't mind that their 15 year old daughter is wearing a Holloween costume that is most often sold at adult stores, or parents who buy their kid a keg for their birthday party. It is increasingly difficult to interest a student in school when it is not valued at home. I have been lucky to have had some amazing students through the years, and I rejoice when they come to me with their successes, both in school and in life. I have former students who are now graduating college come to visit and tell me about their accomplishments and future endeavors, and I am excited for them as if they were my own children, because although they are not all that much younger than I am, I see them as my "kids." I care about your child, I want them to succeed; I want them to achieve everything they want in life, just as any parent would. I rejoice in their successes and share in their failures, and I worry for their future, because I'm a good teacher. Ms. Munroe must be a good teacher, because a bad one wouldn't care if the kids succeeded or failed – they'd just be there for the paycheck. Being frustrated is a sign that you care.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • mh

      Kelly- you reallly seems to have an elevated view of what a teacher makes. It is very unllikely that even in PA a teacher makes 95,000 a year. I don't know any state where this is true. The time that you may think teachers are not working are actually spent going to school to better themselves or working at a second job to supplement their incomes. Why do people dislike it if teacher's have success anyway. I wish everyone would understand, teacher ARE NOT there for the money. If they were they would choose a much easier and higher paying profession.

      February 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • hatemorons

      Kelly in PA
      Quit exaggerating. No school system in the US pays that for a first grade teacher. I teach at a college and am no where close to that. you may have some administrators making that but not a full time in the classroom teacher. what is it that has been said ; "say a lie long enough and long enough it will become the truth."

      February 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brooke

      Please let me know where I can make $95,000 a year teaching!!! I have a masters degree and bring home only $2000.00 a month. I also pay close to $200.00 dollars a month for health care. Bottom line teachers just want to teach and disrespectful students sometimes make that impossible.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • kasey

      "they are asked to contribute $25 a month to receive full medical/dental/vision benefits for their whole families. They demand 5% pay increases when the rest of the country are taking pay cuts and paying more money for less benefits. They work about 200 days/year and make up to $95,000 annually to teach 1st grade."

      Wow, don't know where you got your information, but this is a load of crap. No teacher makes that. Heck, principals don't even make that after 20 years of service. Got news for you. Teacher's salaries are set. !st year teacher gets around $45K, They get icreases of about $1K per year of service unless the state decides to give them a cost of living increase. That $25 insurance is not true. It's dpendent on the school district, the number of teachers they have, etc. just like any other business, and I know of nobody that has premiums that low. So evidently YOU are one of the problem parents that needs a good reality smack. Go sit in a classroom and see what these teachers put up with every day. You'll be exhusted just watcher. Get a clue, then open your big mouth.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Kelly,

      I'd like to confirm for you and the moron bloggers questioning you that in PA, indeed teachers salaries can exceed $100,00.00. For those of you who would like to verify, try googling teacher salaries - Pennsbury, Council Rock, Neshaminy. CB East isn't too far behind...

      March 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. vc

    I totally agree with her and wish she gets her job back. People shouldn't be reprimanded for speaking their mind.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sarah

    OMFG chill! yea the parents could have SOME impact on the way US KIDS act. and yea dicipline is sometimes needed but really? THE PRINCIPAL NEED TO HIT US TO GET SOME SENCE INTO US? Hells no!!!! chill out JEEZ!

    February 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbo

      your post proves the point. It is written by someone who is either too lazy to use proper English, or is totally illiterate. sence? lol

      February 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesterjim

      Agreed – Go back to Facebook. The adults are trying to have a conversation.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • debra

      You need to be paying more attention in school. It is obvious that you need to go to your English teacher for help with your writing skills.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      Sarah, I agree that corporal punishment is not going to force students behave. As a student, what would you suggest to solve the problem that many teachers encounter with their disrespectful and unmotivated students?

      February 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jason

    Give her her job back and a rise.she is speaking the true.kids today are whinny,just like their lazy a** parents

    February 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sarah

    And im just speaking my mind as i am a kid!!

    February 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teacher

      That's right Sarah! It's perfectly alright to speak your mind. If you lose your job (if you have one) over this, it would be a darn shame!

      February 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cynthia

    She is completely correct. As a teacher of 27 years, I can confirm her observations.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David

    Imagine going to work every day and having to face rude, whiny, lazy people.

    Oh wait! That's corporate America! But then, our educational system doesn't know anything about the typical workplace. They blame their failures on the customer.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      ...Except most of Corporate American employees' jobs don't ride on their customers being successful at *their* jobs. Don't know anything about the typical workplace? You just contradicted yourself there, buddy. Apparently they *do* know plenty about the "typical workplace," since, as you said, dealing with lazy, whiny people is a typical duty of those of us employed with Corporate America.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JT

    I do have to wonder, what is the difference between a child being suspended from school for something they said on facebook, myspace, etc and this? Children get suspended quite often now for something they posted online about another student outside of class. Why is this any different? Why are teachers not held to the same standard? Are teachers not suppose to teach children about the "real world"? They always preach how they will not get away with things once they get in the "real world". Yet this woman has been suspended WITH PAY!!! If this were a child they would have suspended them too, but would they have provided any home-schooling? No. I know the children are not employed by the school, but their parents do pay taxes for them to be there. Also would anyone want a teacher that has ill feelings towards students teaching their children? I wouldn't. If you're going to become a teacher you know you are going to have to deal with children that have behavioral issues. Unfortunately not all children are raised in a great family. So instead of wasting your time telling friends how terrible they are why don't you do something to help the child in a positive way. When you become a school teacher, you become not only an educator, but a mentor for life. College is a whole different story. We are given the opportunity to go if we choose to do so. Realistically if all students behaved correctly teachers would only have to teach, but this is not the case. Many children grow up with behavioral issues due to many different things. Maybe bad parents or mental disorders. I work in customer service, and my life would be great if there were not mean people who acted very rude to me for no reason, but they exist. I knew this when I took the job. Just like this woman knew when she took the job. How would we feel if psychiatrists began to blog about how crazy their patients are? I know I wouldn't want to go to that doctor. In their mind they think I'm crazy, and that makes me feel like they don't think they can help me. The same goes for a teacher. If a teacher thinks her students are just rude little A**holes do you think she will truly try to teach them. No. She needs to learn the meaning of the word ETHICS. I know we have freedom of speech in this nation yada yada, but when you take a job it affects your everyday life too. You assume an image and you are expected to maintain that image inside and outside the classroom.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. debra

    I think the teacher had every right to say what she wants on her own time. If she was saying it directly to the kids -that would be another matter all together. I am not a teacher – but have friends that are – and they say the same thing about kids in their classes. I have helped my son with homework since kindergarden – and always make sure all his homework and assignments are done. I have open communication with the teachers, and i expect them to let me know if my son is not doing what he should in school. However, from my parent-teacher conferences and what my teacher friends say this is the exception -most parents don't take an interest-or even help their kids with homework. It is the parents responsibility to teach their kids what school is for and why it is so important. It is a life lesson. We are all on here stating our opinions – why can't she do the same? should we all lose our job because we have opinions? It takes a lot of patience and work to be a teacher. My son is in a class with 32 4th graders with one teacher. Of course the teachers are overworked – and underpayed. It makes me mad to see people saying she is the lazy one. She is trying to teach kids that apparantly at times do not want to learn. Give her a break – how would you feel if the world read everything you have every written or said about your job? your day? your husband/kids? we all have bad days – and say things that can be taken out of context. I for one defend Natalie Munroe – and i thank her for trying to teach kids. Her comments to me mean she does care – she is trying – or she wouldn't have blogged about it. Those of you against her need to step back and look at your life – and be more supportive of teachers and school systems. They have the hardest job there is – and they need our support.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. moyolehuani

    truth hurts.
    parents are the first group of people to deny it.
    stop celebrating mediocrity and crying out that things "aren't fair"

    February 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. FACT: Kids are annoying. Especially YOURS.

    I'm all for a 10 year ban on new child births. Who's with me?

    February 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • mikel

      me.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kacy

      lol! I'd like to know the how of this.

      February 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • asrael

      Come back in 10 years and let us know how it turned out...

      February 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • chopsticks

      I'll jump on that band-wagon. Kids give me hives. I stand with my hat off to all the good teachers who put up with the shyte from students and administrators.

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