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. Robin Nelson

    the truth hurts ..natalie is spot on...it is s downright shame..it is why i left teaching.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jimmy James

    As an educator I have discussed many of these issues with people. In the idea of motivation, it was said that "It's the teacher's job to motivate the students." This is absolute rubbish. It is the PARENT'S job to motivate their children to succeed. It is a teacher's job to give the students the tools needed to make success a valid option. It is the students job to apply themselves and be held accountable for their own success, instead of passing the buck to everyone else. It has been said that it takes a village to raise one child. That village starts at home.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Faye

    This is complete crap. Why can't a teacher complain? Considering all the things public school teachers go through each day, why the heck can't they get on their little blog and vent their frustration? What happened to free speech? A teacher nowadays can get cussed out by a student less than half their age, and yet he or she can't write a slightly negative remark about those students? WAKE UP AMERICA! Let this woman be!

    February 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scott J

    Finally someone has the guts to lay the blame for America's failing standards where it belongs – at the feet of parents and students. The truth hurts, folks. And, remember – school boards basically make decisions based on which group of parents (and special interest groups of both Left and Right) whines the loudest.

    So, quit blaming the System, the School Boards, the Teachers – Look at yourselves as parents and BE ACCOUNTABLE and hold your children ACCOUNTABLE and RESPONSIBLE for their own behavior. Your job is to teach, too.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ??

    "I fondly discussed some wonderful students who shined in the school's Jazz and Poetry Festival,"
    Should that be ".. who shone in the school's Jazz..." Nonetheless, she has a point – parents don't parent anymore

    February 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • gale

      I am an English professor in an urban community college. There are two past tense forms for shine: shined and shone. Although I grew up in a part of the country where shone was used more often, shined is also acceptable and is used in other parts of the country.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    She's not there to coddle and force feed education to students. Kids that work hard and want to learn deserve a teachers attention. Not kids that go to school and clown around or waste everybody's time. Time to stop babying American kids.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tyhouston

    God forbid a teach tells it like it is...

    come on everyone 30 or so, you KNOW how you were as a kid...tell us she's wrong...dare ya

    February 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat

      Ty, I'm turning 30 in June and I was one of the quiet students who did my homework, why because I wanted something more than a job at McDonald's and if I didn't my parents would've tarred and feathered me. I was taught respect and to apply myself to everything when I was young by my parents. I continue to live by these teachings today. And where has this got me? I'm a civilian nurse, I'm a Capt in the Air National Guard and currently working on a Masters degree. Where are the kids I went to school with who acted like the kids this teacher is lamenting about.....working at low-end jobs, with no where to go and living in HUD housing. I feel a little sorry for them, as their parents should have shown more effort, but at the same time, we make our own beds at some point. At some point we have to lie in that bed.

      February 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. seen it all

    I have been teaching for 17 years in a variety of systems and countries. My observations, for what they're worth:

    i) This woman is unprofessional in complaining online about her students. If you think I'm wrong, imagine your doctor complaining online about his/her patients.
    ii) This woman is ridiculously naive if she really thinks an online blog is "private."
    iii) This woman is clearly craving the spotlight. So I hope she enjoys it while it lasts.

    On another note, the blog comment by AP that "Public schools are such a bureaucracy now, it is impossible to get anything accomplished" is right on the money.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Team Fat Has Found A Winner

      Out of the troves of walls of text and internet warrior opinions, we have one opinion that matters.

      Good job, seen it all.

      I declare you, not FAT.

      February 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Agreed on all points.

      February 17, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. freddie

    It's true that many students in school are just as crude and rude as their parents, and both are proud of it. It is what it is. People need to stop making excuses for kids in school that are out of control – partly because that's how mommy and daddy raised them.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. woofka

    When teachers send kids to the office little or nothing is done in far too many cases. While it is easy to blame administrators for this, the truth is they, too are caught. If they send little Johnny home they get an earful from the parents about how it isn't his fault that he (cussed out the teacher, broke the window, threw the desk, punch the other student, etc. – you fill in the blank.) Worse, parents threaten to sue (or do violence themselves) if any action IS taken. And here's a good one: if a student is expelled the school system is still required to provide educational services! Yes, even if they were so bad they were literally kicked out of school. All of this comes back to lawsuits filed by dysfunctional parents who refuse to teach their children proper behavior. I know some kids have mental/emotional issues (I work with them), but even in these cases 90% of it comes back to permissive parents who refuse to discipline their kids. Instead they give in to the whining which teaches the kids to – guess what – whine! So, yes this teacher gets to vent on her PRIVATE blog!
    In the mean time, we all as citizens need to elect people who actually support education and are willing to return control of the classroom to teachers. It is not a liberal/conservative issue. We are all affected by other members of society. If we don't fund education today, we will be building more prisons tomorrow. Don't want to pay those taxes to support schools? Maybe it will be your house that gets robbed before the "lazy, whiny" kid goes to jail! You'll pay one way or the other. Why not pay for something positive?

    February 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      "...if a student is expelled the school system is still required to provide educational services! "

      – – – – –

      That's only true if the student is in special education. Actually, a school could reassign the student to another location, the student could receive services by a visiting teacher for a few hours a day, etc. until a Manifestation Determination was held. If the behavior was found to be part of the disability, a new Positive Behavior Support Plan would be written and educational services would resume at school. If the behavior was found to not be a part of the disability, the student could be expelled.

      February 17, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Christine

    I think this outspoken teacher behaved unprofessionally by posting negative comments about her students on a public blog. Criticism should be constructive, tactful, and offer solutions. I am a teacher and disapprove of her method.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rob

    when iwas in school the teacher would sack you upside your head when you did something wrong kids do not have the respect .honor480 your right on I LIVED 12 Y OF NUNS THEY DO NOT SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE I M OK ARE YOU

    February 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Christine

    I think this outspoken teacher is unprofessional in her criticism of her students. Criticism should be constructive, tactful, and offer a solution. I disapprove of her methods.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brian

    I wonder why English teachers tend to be sarcastic, misanthropic fools. The English teachers I had did everything but teach English. I didn't understand grammar until I took Latin. Maybe we should require Latin in high school.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      In most districts, Latin and Greek prefixes, suffixes, and base words are embedded in spelling programs in elementary and a part of the 9th grade Language Arts curriculum.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jason in Phx

    I'm a teacher. I agree with Natalie: Kids today are a mess. Lazy, self-absorbed, and think the immediate world owes them something. Don't get me wrong, that's a huge generalization, but on the whole, it's the truth. A few things need to happen: 1) Parents need to begin to be held accountable for everything a child does in school, i.e. fine them a percentage of their income if their kid is late to school or comes unprepared to class, 2) Abolish the system of boards of education and get people to run schools who are EDUCATORS, former teachers, current teachers, etc. Everyone who is a teacher knows that if you let teachers run the schools, we'll have this mess completely fixed in NO TIME, 3) Hold student accountable for their grades, etc. Be strict: give zeroes. I do, and it works.

    February 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Kids have been lazy and self-absorbed since the 1950s. That's called being teenagers.

      February 17, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
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