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. Mmmmm

    This women has freedom of speech on the job and off the job. She could have made the same comment in the classroom, in the school hallway, the teacher's lounge, to her peers, to the classroom as a whole before she issues another comment directing her students to cease the behavior. No job has the right to relegislate that freedom to speak from their employees with internal policies and adverse actions and if this teacher has a union, the contract should have an article
    protecting that right inaddition to federal laws. Again the school board has put it's foot in its mouth. This teacher is with child and it may be the fact that she IS pregnant that this unreasonable action was taken against her for she will need to take leave to have and care for her baby. Your attorney and union should not wait. File your motion and complaint today. The fact that she was in her home, on her blog, on personal time off duty may set the stage that this action isn't
    nexus to her job.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Sorry, but if my kid gets in trouble and expelled for bullying your kid, darn straight that if a teacher is bullying my kid, they should be fired. How does free speech trump abuse?

      February 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      @rh...aside from the fact you must have the biggest womb in the world to birth a classroom and school of offended whiney babies...I'm in opinion your free speech is abusive.

      February 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    She's whining about her whiny kids?! She needs to grow up and start acting like a professional.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rolando

      Steve, when you teach, you can criticize. America's educational system is beyond a joke and every time a student is challenged, they either fold or go to mom and dad to "go to bat for them" because "the teacher's not being fair." I no longer teach because I couldn't take the whining and the lack of support from parents. Parents think that the educational system should "do it all" in terms of educating the student but the parents don't discipline and promote responsibility, it does no good.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fishfry001

    This teacher is oh so right. I guess the truth hurts.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • kg

      Totally agree, fishfry. Morever we should just stop educating kids who don't want to learn. Why bother with them when their are plenty of kids who seriously want to advance and make something of themselves? Send them back home for their parents to deal with everyday and watch them attempt to do what thousands of teachers do more or less well everyday. Just because a teacher has the balls to say the truth out loud, doesn't mean she/he can't teach. You know this is true if you spend any time at all around the average public school. You guys should thank her for not going all politically correct and treating the kidlets like little puffs of cotton candy.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MA

    If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen lady.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      It's a pity that you can not admit how a lot of the students today are spoiled brats. We (children and adults in America) have too much freedom and too many rights. Kids (and adults too) should be punished more and they would stop being bad. I wish the teachers were allowed to get out a belt and use it when the kids are being rude or bad! The kids get away with being rude and lazy and as a result do not grow up to be nice, respectable people.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      In college, I see administrators accepting students, at a "good' state school, who barely got C's in regular curriculum in HS. Or foreign students who can pay cash and can't speak a lick of English.

      Many students know that they have it made, and teachers are just impediments. There are bad teachers, but there are more lazy disrespectful students.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Who I Am

    i'm a student, and i can't say that i entirely agree. some kids don't do well, of course, it is to be expected. i for one work hard. i think this teacher works in a crap scool if she thinks this. she has to have a FEW good students. and even if she doesn't like them, didn't our schools always say 'be careful what you post online?'. she is obnoxious and hypocritical. and probably sucks as a teacher if the kids don't learn and are disengaged.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      You may be a student, but you have never been a teacher. Until you have had that experience then you won't understand. The job is a hard one and everyone deserves the right to vent their frustrations. Granted, she probably should have set her blog to a more private setting if this was her form of venting. All teachers vent like this at some point in their career. It is unfortunate that this is happening to her. Teachers can only help their students to a certain degree. Parents and teachers work as a team and only through their partnership can a student succeed.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • lemons

      You are right, I think, on a few points. Obviously this is a very good example of why you should not post things you wouldn't want your boss to read online. And she does have a few good students: these were mentioned in another post.

      I can't say for certain if she is a poor teacher. True, students do have a tendency to do better if they are engaged. As a student myself, I have usually been surrounded by other motivated students. I can also attribute this to my outstanding teachers. However, I saw students in my high school who were getting pregnant and passing through school and dropping out, despite the staff members being fairly good at their jobs. In those few classes I had with students who flunked out, it was the students, and NOT the teachers, who were failing. Their lack of interest, coupled with their consistent lack of doing homework, I believe had to do with absentee parents who were either too ignorant to understand what was going on in their children's lives, or who simply did not care. I have also seen students from my college excel under crappy teachers.

      So, my point is that while she may not be doing the best she can (and that's not clear from the article), the parents of the student probably have more to do with this than she does. After all, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree... usually.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Sorry Katie, vent all you want, but don't vent in public. Our politicians get beat up for venting in public. If you vent in public about your boss, you get fired if you work at a private company.

      Where does it say that public school teachers have more rights to free speech than other employees? Should a private daycare keep a teacher who badmouths the kids on the internet? Probably not, if the parents find out.

      February 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ms.Dawg

    No, it is not just her responsibility to "fix" all these kids problems.......It's their PARENTS!!! I have two kids in school and it is true........kids are commonly not made to be responsible students or be held accountable for ANYTHING!! Many are whiners though not all, and their parents allow it.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Parent of 6

      It seems to be a rarity these days to see other parents actually parenting. They want to blame their children's behavior on anyone and everyone but their parenting. As a parent of 6 I have seen it far too many times. This teacher was blowing off some steam, I would rather her do it in her blog then in her classroom.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Exactly! It is so common for children to have bad parents or no parents at all! The rest of society, starting with the teachers, should try to make those children be good people. We should not just stand back a watch a young student get no guidance from their parents and end up being a horrible criminal/loser and a burden on society! It is for the good of the child and everybody else too!

      February 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar

    Today, the teacher is burdened with so many barriers, deadlines, unattainable objectives and requirements, that no wonder this woman commented as she did. Too many administrators fail to be supportive of teachers. No wonder Ms. Monroe made such comments. I don't blame her one bit.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dailygazing

    Thankfully I am a nobody. I blogged about kids in middle school who have already given up on themselves. In my neck of the woods, they are African American. I don't know why. I don't have answers. I do know when it all goes downhill though. 6th grade. By 8th grade they are happy to look like fools with their pants on the ground and little care for education. That's my experience here in NC and that's my story and I'm sticking to it. But I don't want it to be that way. We need this discussion. What can we do to help? How sad is it that an entire population of 8th graders has already given up?

    February 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dman

    She is 100% correct! Kids today think they are adults, they join gangs do heavy drugs and ruin the school for those who really want to learn. It shouldnt be a surprise that the US is going downhill FAST! Just think.. some day these misfits will be running our country....

    February 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cesar

    Ms. Dawg, you are right. But why fight a losing battle?

    February 16, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Criminy

    Quit your teaching job... that you hate... and do what a woman was meant to do. Have kids and raise them. And quit whining.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SB

    Parents can try all day long to get their kids to study and do their homework. Wife and I ask her 14 year old very day about homework and check her school progress on line everyday. She just doesn't care, she has been in trouble for grade since November. She like some kids just don't care. Also she is one of the polite kids.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      DID YOU TRY TO TAKE HER PHONE AWAY

      February 16, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. joe

    I agree with Hamilton. One of my friends is a high school teacher in LA. One of her student's parents was murdered with a Machete, another one of her students was shot, and this was all in the first few months of the year. Their parents ause them, do drugs, put out cigarettes on them, do not provide clothes or food for them. Then you expect these kids to go home and study for their spelling test? To go home and do math problems? These kids literally fear for their lives at home, they aren't going to go to school prepared and willing to work. It's not that these kids are "animals" or "don't care" its that they literally never have an actual opportunity to learn. It's easy for rich white people from the suburbs who have good public school systems (like me, by the way) to look down on inner-city schools. But honestly it's not the school or childs fault, it's the parent.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alegron

    I have had some incredible students (and a few of them are now in universities) but unfortunately, they are not the norm.

    When stuff gets hard, "they" quit and whine. Sit down, turn off your ipod and let's get to work! Oh wait.. you didn't bring your materials? You didn't know we had a test? It's hard? Oh God forbid!

    Walk into my classroom tomorrow and you are guaranteed to see a kid a) eating b) sleeping c) texting d) throwing wrappers on the floor post snack e) swearing f) and yes, studying. For every 5 that are off task 1 is wanting to learn. That is a sad sad reality in our classrooms.

    Today I offered after school help for my 196 students. 3 came. I rest my case.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Smith

      After teaching for 30+ years, I can agree with Alegron.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. norm

    We spend too much, have too much faith in technology and promote kids who fail. We have to stop this idiocy that all kids will go to college. Even if they did then college would become meaningless.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
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