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. Jack

    She's spot on. Kids today don't know how to fail. When they do fail, the parents want someone else accountable. The kids (and parents) need to take responsibility for their own education. They need to get it through their thick skulls that they won't just be handed a free ride through life and they need to work for what they get. Oh wait, Obama is in office...Nevermind.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Luke Knisley

    Hmmm yet a student gets suspended for crticizing the stupidty of SOME teachers on facebook or even by text.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Honest Student

    I'd love to have read all the comments before posting my own, but 3 pages is a tad long to get through. I can sympathize for Ms. Munroe, some students do cause a lot of stress and grief, and I do think she should be able to vent some frustration, but her approach is wrong? Why would you post something like that on a blog, even if it is meant to be shared with friends? I mean, do you really think there's such a thing as privacy and confidentiality with the internet? I'm not posting this cuz I was a spiteful high schooler, but everything has a consequence, and for her immature actions, I'm not surprised she's facing some of that consequence now... As a student, I go to school knowing there are distractions (poor learners, hooligans, and sad-excuse for a teacher), and you have to cope with it. I would imagine as a teacher, you're well aware what you're getting yourself into. It wasn't just in the recent years that kids went bad – bad kids were always around! I wouldn't know her ways of dealing with those problem students so I won't comment, but ranting online is honestly kinda immature and disrespectful, even to those problematic students.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. joe

    im a student, and i dont see anything wrong with this. i mean. really do we care THAT much that a teachers comment makes us think about firing them, instead of looking at pass/fail ratios, GPA of students, completion and quality of work.

    its on the students. not the teacher. tell this district to get there bloody head out of the sand

    February 17, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. Name*t

    I don't see how her personal blog shared with her friends is any concern or in any way should it have been made public. There saying pretty much watch what u say cause at any given time ur personal life can be exposed ..huffington post is absolutely correct and I agree two hundred percent of what they say if there was parents held accountable for there children maybe just maybe we might get some where..

    February 17, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. beezo

    Its the city kids and their crackhead parents that ruin everything maybe not all city kids but most of them for sure i for 1 couldnt be a teacher as i would whoop the 1st kids azz who told me f u in my face and when their parents came in they could the same

    February 17, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dude

    Seems to me that a lot of the complainers might be drop-outs, or parents of these "whiny" students. If I was the teacher, I would try to talk to the parents about the disruption their child is causing. If either of my daughters acted like some of these punks nowadays, they would know what they would have to come home to. I don't physically discipline my daughters, but, at the same time, they know the meaning of a little word called "respect". But to blame a teacher who has to interact with 20-30 different students at a time everyday for 45mins – 1.5hrs/day & then have 20-30 more students to teach right after is downright ridiculous. I could see if there were 1or2 students who had trouble learning something, but obedience is a different issue entirely. A teacher could spend all year trying to get through to a group of students, but if they're not willing to learn, it's all moot. Working for a state agency, I see so many high school dropouts, or even middle school/ junior high dropouts. You think their inability to get a job in this economy is because their high school teacher(s) gave up on him/her? Or is it because the individual gave up on the teachers and the school?
    Even if a teacher takes the action to speak with a parent, some parents don't give a $#!+, or act like they do. The latter might seem upset with their child & indicate that their child will change, then they go home and let them hang out with friends or play games. "Mom/dad! Can I have a beer?" "Yeah, sure. Just leave one for me". Neither teachers nor parents should act as a "friend" to these punks, but rather teachers or parents.
    Godspeed Natalie! Public comment or not, it should not be the students who are protected.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Eldie

      I agree 100%! Too many parents are 'growing' children, not 'raising' them. A good friend of mine, ex-Olympian, after finishing his athletic career, went back to school, specifically to get a teaching certificate. He taught for one year in a school where there was no discipline; every effort was rebuffed by a loud complaining parent. He gave up his dream, and is now happier staying home raising his 2 children while his very bright wife continues with her job. Hang in there Natalie! I resent the thugs in school that you have to baby sit, and who prevent my children from getting full benefit of efforts like yours!

      February 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chica for Change

      "Dude", I couldn't agree with you more. Personally, I am a middle school teacher just outside Detroit. The profession of teaching is exhausting. Most students don't care about their education and the ones that do have to work twice as hard as we did because of the amount of classroom disruptions that occur on a daily basis. It is no wonder that our nation's test scores are at their lowest–the students lack a strong work ethic, they argue for their grades, they argue about school policies, and the parents argue on behalf of the students. In general, there is a lack of accountability; parents can decide to "promote" their child to the next grade, when their child has not met the expectations set forth by their current grade level. These poor kids keep falling further and further behind. We have some major changes to make in this country: with the parents, with our laws and policy, and with our society and its emphasis, or lack there of, that we place on education.

      February 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      AMEN!!!

      February 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      'Dude', I agree with you entirely. I'm a highschool student, 11th grade to be exact, and all my classes are just filled with kids who do nothing but talk and yell and be incredibly Obscene during class. Honestly, I want to learn in my classes, not listen to the jocks in the center of the classroom talk about how Such and such got her navel pierced. I swear, all my teachers do is sit there and stare at them while they eff around, and while the whole classroom stares at them and waits for the lesson to continue, they go on with their merry conversation as if there's no one there other than themselves. Not to mention they never come to class with even a pencil.

      April 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. personwhogetsit

    one of the most difficult things to endure in these modern times is being right, having common sense and the wall of frustration that goes along with it all. it is no wonder to me that there is so much negative outcry towards natalie since our world is filled with the adult version of these kids. you cant explain stupid to stupid people.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Brey

      I agree with her 100%. Kids these days are disrespectful and expect that everything is supposed to come easy and preferably on a silver platter. She has a right to her opinion whether she is a teacher or not. Besides, she posted these comments on her OWN private blog, on her OWN private computer and she didn't use any names. So if they do fire her than she will sue and WIN BIG because it would clearly be violating her 1st Amendment Rights...Freedom of Speech. This country is truly heading in a downward spiral, it is truly sad.

      February 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Surely Natalie's behavior would support your view that adults are the grown up version of the very kids she disparages.

      February 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mewpudding101

    From the context SHE gave us, I don't think she's wrong. I mean, yeah, kids are whiny. I'm a high school student. I know. It's definitely tongue-in-cheek.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Darrin G

    I applaude this teacher for speaking about a subject that truly needs to be addressed. Never would I have imagined to see and hear kids walking down the street openly fighting, cursing, and wearing sagging pants to show their underwear but what hurts me most of all is when they swear while standing next to the elderly or sitting on church steps. We adults need to clean up our act in order to correct this deeply disturbing problem.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      You have no idea who these students are, and why the heck would you applaud an educator who resorts to online name calling? Exactly how is that productive? Thank goodness you're not a teacher.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Darrin G

    Re: personwhogetsit, do you know what I mean?

    February 17, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • personwhogetsit

      i do. she has a right to say what she wants. she has a right to criticize what she observes. all the vitriol towards her wont make what she is saying incorrect. it seems to me that parental effort today is weak, subsisting on an occasional scolding for a bad grade or no video games for a day. a superficial effort really. distracted at the very least. those that lash out at natalies comments are overcompensating.

      February 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. walt

    teacher's job: motivate and be a role model
    paren't job: inpire and discipline and encourage
    enough said?

    February 17, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • LM

      I don't agree at all, Walt. A parent's job is to do ALL of those! A parent's job is to teach their child manners, discipline, acceptance, and respect...........to motivate them to be the best that they can be. A teacher's job is to take the child when they start out and continue those traits, plus educate that child in their academic areas. Teachers should not be a replacement for parents. But that's exactly what our educational system has become.

      February 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JB

    Truth hurts. I think her comments are her opinion and she has the right to them. I also believe she is pretty accurate. God bless her for knowing this about these kids and choosing to try to educate them anyway. If we are offended maybe we are the ones with the problem.

    February 17, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Are you aware she blogged during class and "gave herself a pass" since she was writing about her honors students?

      March 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ashley

    I think this teacher is totally out of line. Yea kids are a pain and disrespectful but that comes with the territory. Teens are not fun and no matter how much parents teach respect when they get around their friends they are all going to act up together bc it is cool. When I was in high school which was like 6 years ago I wasnt always the most respectful but neither were my friends and that was what made it cool. I did have respect for some of my teachers but those teachers actually inspired me and motivated me( I was a real smart kid with good grades), but not all teachers have that effect on their students.
    Im not trying to make excuses for the students that probably were disruptive and unpleasant; however, I dont think that it gives her the right to go online and complain about it, what does that solve?
    I think her actions completely discredit her as a professional and she ought to be fired. Just because you can say something doesn't mean that you should. Everything you post online can be seen by everyone and it was ignorant of her to think otherwise.
    Some of the comments that she posted that she wished she could have said in report cards are downright rude and the very reflection of the behavior that is being exhibited by teenagers. I think she is the one with the real problem. It is her job as a teacher to find ways to inspire and motivate because face it across all generations everyone hated school at the time.
    Also look at the age that they are in, high school is not the single answer to success so to teens it doesnt seem all that important.
    From a business perspective there is no way that I wouldnt be fired for chastizing my coworkers or boss on a blog or anywhere else on the internet. We all need to understand that whatever you put online is not YOUR property, just shows how stupid she really was!
    I dont know this whole thing really annoys me because I had great teachers who had awful students and none of them would have been so frustrated that they would publicly humiliate themselves online! SEriously maybe the problem isnt solely within the student perhaps we should do a better job at finding the appropriate teacher!

    FIRE HER!

    February 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard K

      Interesting. "Fire Her" because she said some things some see as disrespectful about some of her students. OK fine. lets do that. BUT... Shall we carry that thought out to the end right? Fair is Fair... so if she gets fired for being disrespectful then what should happen to those same students who were? Some sort of equal punishment? , or rather is it ok to be disrespectful if your both young and just being "cool"? I guess only the adults have to act line adults. Then there is the general disrespectful tone of your post. What do you think should happen to you for that? Likely nothing since you just graduated and were smart you should be allowed to be this way. After all you are just being "cool" right?

      On a related note how many of US (me included in that) have ever complained about a boss, coworker, friend, relative, acquaintance, or salesperson? How may tweets, blog post and Facebook post are nothing more then someone railing about how they were treated and how much of a "fool, idiot, moron, jerk", or what have you the offending person was. Again I am sure that is ok though. I am not against having an opinion as you see I have them too but we need to always consider them all the way through, and not just in the context in which we relate to them. I challenge you or anyone else to post a link to their own blog and lets see if you have ever done something just like this teacher.

      February 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      Ashley,you're just like those sorry ass students!!!!

      February 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teacher

      "high school is not the single answer to success".... I usually hear something along those lines from my disruptive students who are trying to justify their failing grade.

      February 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chica for Change

      Right on Richard K, jon, and Teacher! I think Natalie is dealing with her stress in a healthy way by writing about it. How many teachers do we see that get to their breaking point and end up going physical with their student(s). When is enough enough? When do the students actually have to start following the rules so that the teachers don't reach a breaking point and can just do what they set out to do...teach?

      February 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • never assume

      Thank you. Also, what no one is talking about – because no one in the district can say it – is that this teacher's performance was under review. Students complained she spent much of her classes watching her daughter on her nanny cam, and there was a general impression she would not be accepted back after maternity leave. She's the wrong person to put up as a spokesperson for problems in the educational system, and reporters ought to have investigated that aspect.

      February 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard K

      Never Assume – nice information but if you could link a source it really would help. not saying you are wrong (or right) at the moment. I am always interested in getting the FULL story. if you see this and could please provied a link to where you saw this. again not saying you are wrong just that I am near positive someone some where has dug into this woman and if there was dirt they would mix it with water and start throwing the mud... but I could be wrong.

      Thanks

      February 18, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • CaptGrelden

      Of course, Ashley – just because you can say something does not mean you should – you make the perfect point that people have opinions and are not swayed. She based her opinion on actual experience with the kids and how she has to deal with them. You based your opinion on some self-righteous smugness that makes you morally superior in your own eyes.
      you are the kind of person who simply asks for a supervisor when told "no", screams when someone points out you were wrong, and can tell ANYONE how they should be doing what they do (of course your opinion of what should be done cannot be swayed).
      STFU and try to experience what she does, before judging others you ridiculous ass.
      Now, you made clear your ignorance of the situation, by judging her. I am simply pointing out your ignorance and hypocrisy – not the same, but you will still not be able to help the fact that you have to now rip me and anyone else who does not agree with you a new one.. Nice, stay the hell off my internet, please?

      February 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • a thot from another land

      @Ashley: "... I had great teachers who had awful students and none of them would have been so frustrated that they would publicly humiliate themselves online...". Now that you are a responsible adult, why not drop by your great teachers one day(and I mean a day, not 15 mins) when they are available to speak to you and ask them this same question, now that they know your parents are not going to come after them. Who knows, we may all learn a thing or two after your time with them and if you could share that with us honestly here.

      February 21, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Ashley,

      Not to worry. Munroe will be terminated, and the courts will uphold the disciplinary action.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Munroe and employment law? Courts have supported disciplinary by a school district when a teacher's private life impacts the integrity of the school district or the teacher's ablitily to teach within the district. I'd say Munroe's blog has impacted both scenarios.

      Regarding protection of freedom of expression - teachers can't significantly disrupt the educational interest of the school district, undermine authority, or adversely affect working relationships at the school. I'd say Munroe's blog impacts those scenarios as well.

      In Pennsylvania: "Teacher's certificate may be revoked for incompetency, cruelty, negligence, immorality, or intemperance. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds."

      I'd say Nat's blog demonstrated cruelty and intemperance. Possible negligence if there's no record of contacting administrators, or parents about specific classroom issues. Based upon her decision to rant online, they can certainly review competency - she's ill-equipped to deal with students.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael

    I know exactly were this lady is coming from. I taught in a small school for a year and could have said a lot more than she did. It is hard to reach kids these days. We need a computer screen attached to our faces.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Did you resort to name calling online to deal with your frustrations? Did you refer to your students as jerk*ffs online as Munroe did? Do you think her behavior builds a bridge?

      March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
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