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. jim

    Essentially, all this article really covers is the fact that this woman is hyman. She vented frustration about her job which every person posting on this board has done every single day of their working lives. It doesnt cover her abilities as a teacher. For all we know she could have been previously nominated as teacher of the year. She didnt make these comments in the classroom directly to her students. I have a son with ADHD who, while being the sweetest, most polite caring child, can at times being a handful.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joe

    I'm an English teacher in a high school in the state of PA. Yes, students can be challenging, but I accepted that challenge when I decided to make teaching my career. Sometimes, I may vent to a trusted faculty member in confidence about a particular student, and often, I will get an idea from this faculty member on how to reach this student. I would never vent online (even generally) in a public forum. This (IMO) is unprofessional. It breaks an ethical code that comes with the territory. I guarantee that if this teacher lacked this kind of judgment in this situation, she has done it before. This kind of person gives teachers a bad name, and she should apologize for being unprofessional rather than defend herself.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      My thoughts exactly.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. dizizcamron

    i couldn't care less about her calling bratty kids brats, but the claim "it was meant for a select group, not everyone" when they are making a post on the internet should never be used again. if you honestly thing anything you say on the internet is limited to any group then you should just shut up

    February 17, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  4. Prince

    In all sincerity, the description this teacher gave was modest.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. AEP Teacher

    My one negative of what this teacher did was that it was wrong to believe anything placed on the internet is private. However, she speaks the truth about many students. I teach at an alternative education program and get the worst of the students. Most are there for assaulting teachers. None of them have problems telling us to F*** off. They complain the work is too hard and they won't do it. I've been told more than once they can make more money in a couple of weeks selling drugs than I can in a year so who is the dumba**. Try to get the parent involved...you get more of the same.

    Now some people want to "grade" my teaching ability. How is that fair? I can take the horses to water, shove their head completely under and practically drown them...doesn't mean they drank any of it and you are going to grade me using their test scores???

    I've wondered many times what might help change this. I thought...tie government benefits to graduating, but that doesn't correct the student who cut and paste 98% of a term paper from websites and had dad who is a big donor to the school district call his Superintendand buddy to get the grade adjusted from a 0 because that isn't plagerism. So I think the only thing left is when the parents of students who care start filing lawsuits about how those studetns who don't are endangering their learning opportunities and violating their rights to an education. This would finally force schools to protect the people who want an education.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Frank

    Blame the teacher for speaking out and telling it as it is. Let the poor misunderstood students work on their self esteem. This story is a great example of how our public education system has failed. And yes there are hard working, well behaved students as well thanks to caring parents, teachers and and a desire to succeed on their part.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    First, much respect to Ms. Munroe and all of the other teachers on this discussion board. I am not an educator, but I can only imagine the challenges you guys face in today's classrooms. Scary on a lot of levels.

    However, what if we imagine Ms. Munroe not as a teacher, but say an account executive for a marketing firm, and she was blogging negatively about her coworkers– or worse, her clients? She was bad mouthing hose to whom she had professional obligations and shared expectations? That's not okay, is it? If her marketing boss saw her blog, she'd be reprimanded. She is a representative of the school just like I am a representative for an insurance company.

    I'm sorry, but you can't go bad mouthing people, ESPECIALLY people you know in a professional context, and not expect some kind of retribution. The notion that her blog was "private" is absurd. It's the INTERNET- there's no such thing as privacy on the internet.

    Every word she said may be true, but she's still out of line. There are more appropriate venues and ways of raising the discussion.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. jw

    Wow. I thought that I was alone in the world, planning the best lessons, teaching my heart off and getting no praise–only criticism and complaints when I disciplined or corrected students. Now I know that I am not alone. God is VERY loving and the epitome of kindness, but this is what he told Israel to do with a teenager (youth) who was rebellious and would not obey his parents or authority. Take him outside of the city, and stone him to death. Now if God gives this advice, how much more should we discipline our children and teach them to respect teachers and listen to them? If obedience to authority is that serious a matter to God, we should take note. Sometimes culture makes a difference. My Asian students seemed to be respectful and obedient, probably because their parents made them work hard and respect authority.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Meagan

    Although it is true that there are quite a few students who seem to not care about school, it's very unprofessional and a little bit frustrating to see a teacher making comments like that. I see young people around me every day striving to be the best they can be, and trying to make positive changes in the world. You cannot generalize these negative conditions to fit an entire population. It's like saying all Americans are fat and stupid. And besides, the current school system is ludicrous. It caters to such a small proportion of people, and some students just can't learn in this type of environment.

    Also, the comment about how parents should be fined for a child's poor behaviour is ridiculous. The person who wrote that clearly has never had children. Sometimes kids just don't listen to parents. It's always been like that and always will. Sometimes bad behaviour is a sign of a deeper stemming issue, such as a personality disorder, depression, bullying... the list goes on.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ianni

    I was a high school Latin teacher for four years and I quit my job and decided to enlist in the Marine Corps. I honestly think my day to day life will be much easier and more appreciated than my days in the classroom. The kids are little snots on the whole, with only a few bright performers. I loved teaching, but honestly it wasn't worth the thanklessness and all the sketchy things we were asked to do.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. idiocracy82

    This is what we raised with a generation of kids that though they should get trophies "just for doing their best". Once they figured out if they made an effort they'd get something, they stopped trying to win. And once they realized they'd get something just for showing up, they stopped trying to try.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  12. Stannis

    These are the things I really appreciate about teaching college and not high school. A student is lazy and doesn't do their work, they fail. Nothing their parents can do to change it. A student is disrepectful, they're out. Nothing their parents can do to change it. A student doesn't come to class, they perform poorly on an exam. Nothing their parents can do to change it. They learn VERY quickly in college that all of these things that they got away with in high school (because of their parents) they can no longer get away with. And it's amazing how quickly most of them will turn around. If we allowed teachers to do their jobs instead of allowing their parents to run the schools there would be a lot less problem children and a lot fewer teachers who felt the need to vent like this woman did.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Lstrm

      You're right; it's the wake up call the families I work with need. The students? Middle school kids are still in choice, and their choice is often not my choice.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. Al Texas

    I can relate. I am a high school math teacher and coach. In my 14 years in the classroom, I find that the kids simply lack social etiquette. When the kids do or say something inappropriate, I correct their behavior. I tell them I don’t blame them for the way they act I blame their parents or guardian. I go on to tell them that they simply were not shown the proper way to act/speak in a public place but now they have. Of course I wish it were that easy to fix their behavior but sometimes the sarcasm gets the point across. Our principal reminds us that the parents are sending us the best they got. Students that are disruptive in class take away from the education of the ones that want to learn. I am constantly apologizing to the class for the rude interruption I encounter from the students that are being a distraction for that day. Texting, Phones going off (parents calling), students walking in late and just simply talking to loud are a few examples of what I have to deal with on a regular basis. The funny thing is that one day a student can be a pain and the next an angel. At least once a year I have to lecture the kids on how they need to learn how to deal with adversity, which leads to the conversation about how teachers are people to. I explain to them that teachers have everyday problems but when we walk through that classroom door we have to be ready to motivate and emphasize the value of an education. (Don’t forget I said I was a math teacher, everybody’s favorite subject). What Mrs. Monroe did was vent her frustration, which is what I can imagine all teachers do with their friends and colleagues. I know I do. How do you think teachers keep their sanity?

    February 17, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. stevie

    The lady speaks the truth if you ask me. I ran a small business for many years, and we quit hiring teens and 20-somethings for this very reason. The senior citizens we hired worked rings around them.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. Johnny Hunter

    I am a retired elementary principal, who has been an educcator for 35 years. (32 as principal) I support Natalie Munroe 100%. She has the right to speak her opinion in this venue or any other. The sad state of business is that her statements are true and factual. Several students are rude, lazy, and disengaged whiners on their first day of Kindergarten. Afew of these improve, but most become more and more difficult from year to year. The other sad state of buiness is that this small group of students has a very negative effect on those who want to learn. People say, " It is our job to motovate." That is absolutely right. I was privileged to have an outstanding staff, who worked hard to make every student a success. We had many many wonderful students, but we had our share of rude, lazy, and disengaged whiners.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
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