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. Lochana

    Parents really need to decipline their kids before going after somebody who is actually trying to bring them in right track. They better spend time counceling rather then complaining.

    February 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. agoodmomma

    WoW! Have you people ever heard of a thing called COMPASSION? I am a 24 year old mother of two and my sons kindergarten teacher could not believe how well mannered and sweet and educated my son was! Especially coming from a teen mother, yes most children are spoiled, whiny, overweight, etc. But, not ALL! So let's not condemn the kids and parents that are doing a good job just because there are a lot that are not! Most of you who are writing these posts have never seen the inside of a REAL ghetto, the kids there do want to be loved and DO want a good education but everyone just write's them off because they are ruff around the edges! COMPASSION people! Who are you to judge? If that teacher doesn't like kids, guess what? She doesn't need to work with them! How can you even defend someone like that? Yes the world is going down but if we don't these kids a loving hand, because most of them don't have that, its just going to get worse! So before you judge a CHILD maybe do something to help one! Ha how ya like them apples?

    February 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Compassionate no more

      I LOVE kids. I taught school. I WANTED to help the kids who needed a hand up, extra attention & love. Their race, socio-economic situation, address, didn't enter the equation. They came to my home at the appointed time. NO ONE forced the children to come, they came of their own FREE WILL. This is what happened: books were stolen, found DESTROYED, a block away; profanity-oh the profanity-& the kids didn't see ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT; horrible grammar & spelling;DVD's, stolen; drugs stolen from bathroom closet; toilet ripped from floor; graffiti painted on my home; tires slashed; my physical person threatened, to name just a few things that happened because I was COMPASSIONATE. I VISITED in their homes, confronted the offenders when KNOWN, PRIOR TO MAKING A POLICE REPORT! ALL the parents DENIED their child could have/would have/said/done such things. POLICE investigations turned up NOTHING because the parents & kids ALL covered for each other. Then, after all the abuse I took from them, they had the unmitigated gall to tell me I was bigoted, against their religion, their economic status, looked down on them for where/how they lived. I CLOSED my home the these children & their parents. Within 6 months ALL the abuse on my person & property ceased. The kids moved, were in jail or dead along with most of their parents. SO SAD–when ALL I wanted to do was LOVE & HELP them. AND I REALLY DID LOVE THEM!

      February 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Munroe supporters are yahoos who aren't interesting in focusing on Munroe's behavior.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. agoodmomma

    I'm not commenting on the teacher as much as I'm commenting on the hateful people that are putting the blame on children. It is the horrible parents but at least I can go to sleep at night knowing I'm not one of them.

    February 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Compassionate no more

      I AM THRILLED you are a good mamma! It's also good that you know it! I'd be PROUD to make your acquaintance! Your babies are well behaved, & want to learn. I sincerely pray they STAY that way! Peer pressure does strange things to kids with great parents. On their way to & from school & in the classroom when they are teens, situations can and do shift dramatically.

      February 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      You shouldn't feel the need to refrain from commenting on the teacher. She crossed the line of decency and professional conduct with her vile blog.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ProudTiredTeacher

    To those of you who disagree you have no idea what occurs in a classroom. Students ARE everything Natalie has said. Its ashame the blame has to be placed on teachers. Teachers who spend their nights & weekends planning and preparing! As a first year teacher I understand how it feels to have your ambition and the life sucked out of you by lazy, disrespectful students, whom I love dearly!

    I applaud you Natalie M....you speak for every teacher atleast in my district!

    February 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DouglasD

    Keep-up the faith Richard K! We, as a country, need to get back to the ideology that doing the right thing is cool, and that making the most of ones education is to be rewarded. For far too long we, as a society, have sullied the concept of personal responsibility, regardless of whether one is a child, teenager, or adult.

    I applaud Natalie for bringing the issue of personal respect and responsibility, to include the corruptible temperament of education, to the forefront. I used to complain about the education system in the United States, and then one day decided to be apart of the solution by leaving my lucrative career to become a math and science teacher. Like Natalie, I wanted to teach to share my knowledge, and to make a positive difference in the lives of my students. Other than the handful of deserving students in each of my classes, I’ve experienced laziness, ill-preparedness, undisciplined, foul-mouthed, and just plain stupid people. And boy…the apple doesn’t fall far from the proverbial apple tree.

    On another note, I teach in a public school system, but all of my three children attend private school. Does anyone have to ask me why? Oh sure, one could compare and contrast both public and private education systems for eternity, but when I send my children to school, there are no discipline issues, no gang issues, no interruption of instruction, and no No (every) Child Left Behind wackiness. Regardless, teaching in today’s classroom is the toughest career I’ve ever had, and that includes my stint as a U.S. Army airborne infantry officer.

    Natalie should be promoted, afforded a very large pay increase, and sent to Washington DC to advise President Obama on the realities of education. If the constructive fix does not come from within, it will never happen. Thank you Natalie for saying (privately) what we (teacher or not) have been thinking for so long.

    February 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Have you read Munroe's blog? It's full of name calling, and there isn't anything instructive, constructive, or decent about her judgements. Let me know how referring to a student as a jerk*ff is a path to education reform. Munroe is a disgrace to the profession.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Educator

    Lazy, rude, whiners...sounds like this could describe Natalie M herself. Lazy, inept teachers complain about "unteachable" students. Effective educators change pedagogy to meet each classes needs. I find the hostility and incivility among these postings is similar to the rude and hateful comments in her blogs. Saying you "hate" anyone is really rather remarkable. Calling children "frightfully dim" or having no redeemable qualities means this woman is totally unsuitable to be an educator. Are some children rude and difficult to teach; yes. Are some parents demanding and unreasonable and don't take responsibility for bad behavior? Certainly! But you do not enter the teaching profession expecting all students to be easy to teach. Venting is normal but not in this negative way and posting such comments in a blog is inappropriate and unprofessional. As an educator and parent I hope such hostile people stay out of teaching.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Thank you.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. wow

    Really people! This is what our world has come to! We have bigger problems to deal with than wasting our time and energy on ones opinion. Yes she maybe a teacher, but seriously who cares. It seems to me that in todays society we feel the need to make everything an issue, sue someone or put blame on others. Sorry, I just feel that we need to focus more on ouselves than worring about others.

    February 18, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. A Studen of Munroe's

    Honestly, this whole thing is just frustrating for me. There are so many "truths", but no one (that I know of) has actually gone to the school and seen anything happen. She may have the first amendment right to free speech, but libel is a crime.
    I was a student of Munroe this year and I have only a few words to say. If you really want to say that her words are true of the students at CB East, come in and try to say them for yourself. You may have speak with the main office or the security office in order to enter, but once you do you will see that she is wrong. She often told us that she would rather have been a dancer or singer or "something that would make me famous" while in class and, well, this is her 15 minutes of fame that she's always wanted.

    February 18, 2011 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Munroe's isn't worthy of calling herself an educator, and the yahoos who support her probably haven't even read her vile blog. They certainly haven't bothered to question her judgement.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Teaching Moment

    Want to read a real teacher's blog/journal? Then look at this one, A Dixie Diary.

    Published this week, this unique teacher's journal shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse ... this time in the classroom of kids with learning disabilities by a rookie teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way. Sure, there are some intense moments, but mostly it's world-class hilarious, heartwarming ... like reading a good book. It's simply mesmerizing.

    It's at http://www.adixiediary.com

    February 18, 2011 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. tbrownjt

    “Just how much are teachers to blame for the problems plaguing the current education system?”

    Exactly none! They inherited this mess! How? I turn 60 this year, which means I was born and grew up in the 50's, that idyllic “Leave it to Beaver” decade in US history. Times were prosperous and people, including children, had manners and respect towards each other. (Yes-there are a ton of other very negative issues about that time, but there don't apply here.) Then came the sixties, when this country dove off a “freedom of speech” cliff, always trying to top the last big “breakthrough” in public shock-talk, be it TV, radio, Hollywood, making everyone alive, all of us, are to blame. Civility, respect, self constraint, honesty, those things that kept our own personal civility in check, have been slowly eroded away in the name of “do your own thing”, and we're still at it. Each generation pushes this envelope further, instead of trying to rein it in and pull it back. And it only takes a couple of generations for the then current generation to think the era they grew up in was the norm. When you couple that with this country's short-term memory, nobody remembers that there once was a more civil era. And this slow motion unraveling of ethics and mores just keeps on compounding itself. The founding fathers spoke and wrote about this point profusely, and pointed this out numerous times. Here are a couple:

    Benjamin Franklin: "[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." 
    Robert Winthrop: Speaker of the U. S. House, "Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet."

    While many these days will reject the religious angle, they are dead on. To define Franklin's claim, politics has become thoroughly corrupt and people accept it. And people have become vicious-one only need read any comment section following almost every online article to see that, much less view our increasing viciousness through the media, in situations like Tucson, or the vitriol resulting from this teachers blog.

    Teachers are not to blame here-this country's citizens are.

    February 18, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Proud but Tired Teacher

    Those of you who disagree with Ms. Natalie M. have never been inside a classroom. As a first year teacher I know first hand what it feels like to have your ambitions and joy ripped from you by lazy and disrespectful students (whom I love dearly). Us teachers spend our nights and weekends planning and preparing and in return get back next to nothing.

    Teachers are people like every one else. They have lives outside of work, like every one else. Yes, they are to set a good example but that should start at home. Parents should be their childs first role model not a teacher they see 16 years in to living. Parents need to wake up! Teachers are there to teach not babysit teenagers.

    I believe in you Natalie M...you speak for ALL teachers, atleast the ones in my district! ROCK ON!

    February 18, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. never assume

    to Richard K – She thinks no one found her blog until this hit – but in fact I know of students who did find it some weeks ago. They debated what to do about it; they were anxious about whether it was right to report it – they disliked the idea of destroying a person's career, especially as she was about to go on maternity leave. They were aware of complaints made against her and noticed her classes were under review – so reasoned that if she was perhaps going to be made redundant anyway, her blog might be irrelevant. In the end, the decision was taken out of their hands when others found it. As they are students, I'm sorry, I can't give you sources, so you could understandably disregard this info. I didn't write sooner, as I knew the kids were trying to move on and didn't want to add to the circus, but I'm upset that a lot of kids at that school are really hurting, and despite her bitter vitriol, they are many good, respectful kids there – they didn't deserve this.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard K

      NA,

      I do understand the not being able to give sources. and I am sure some will disregard you due to the nature of this medium and the lack of being able to verify the who of things. But I also give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

      I also believe in the inherent good of the average person. To that end I say I think this whole thing just got way out of hand. Yes it might have been better if she had not written
      What she did. I am curious as to why some in the class were checking her blog if she is really as stated and I think it was decent of them to have debated turning her in rather then run and tell. As for their being hurt I am wondering if they imagined she included them in the comments (to my understanding no names were named). Sometimes in life we have to excuse the actions of others. It may not be “fair” or “right” but I am sure we all have done our own fair share of “unfair” as well.

      And while I am sure not “students” are as she said I am likewise sure that a vast majority are. Having taught myself and seen the number of “kids” in the afternoon programs due to behavior issues (the school had to install cameras in a second classroom to accommodate them all). Having seen how some of those “kids” acted and listening to my youngest daughter describe what went on at her school (and we live in small town America) I have to say there must be some merit in her comments.

      In closing I say thank you for speaking out in a rational and non emotional manner. I am sure you are not like the ones under discussion here.

      March 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tom

    If you want proof–NOT CONJECTURE, NOT OPINION–but if you want HARD PROOF in AUDIO and in PRINT of how these kids think they're allowed to behave, the sorts of things they think they're allowed to accuse others of doing, and THE GOOD EXAMPLE set by one of their parents? (Who, like her kid, accuses someone of the WORST THING a human being can do) it's very simple.

    Just go here: http://www.thetomgulleyshow.com

    You'll hear it all and see it all there. You will NOT wonder what this teacher was referring to. It is CRYSTAL clear.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jbond

    Many kids need their asses beat!!

    February 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LM

    Every teacher in America should be writing a letter of support for Natalie Munroe. She expressed, in writing, what other educators feel daily!

    February 18, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
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