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. Tyler

    The problem is many of todays youth continue to struggle in the classroom as they become less and less interested in education and focused on life outside of the classroom and reality TV. The even bigger problem is that the problem itself, is only getting worse.

    Today's standards of education at any grade level are lower now than 25 years ago or even 50 years ago. Where will those standards be in another 25 years? See the trend?

    People laugh when they hear the term "Old School" and associate the term with nostalgia and the uncool factor. What about associating the term with moral standards, values and high expectations. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is.

    Then think about the future of our education system and its long term growth. One teacher can only do so much in any given classroom on any given school day.

    It all starts in the home. That's where our educational system is broken. Unfortunately life outside of the classroom and reality TV, among other things, have taken top priority before respecting the gift of education. Are most parents really that involved? Are they setting quality standards? Setting solid boundaries and guidelines for a successful education and future?

    Natalie Munroe pointed out things that get swept under the carpet and what most people don't want to hear and accept. This is what happens when a system and a society play the "politically incorrect" card to ignore a growing problem.

    Just remember the next time you go to any store or place of business and ask for help from someone who is roughly age 18-24. Remember this post when you get that glazed look, mumbling communication, and the overall lack of respect. It's public customer service at its finest. Also remember, it's not their fault.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mandy

    People, she is a TEACHER and not a reporter or such to comment on her students online. This is NOT the way a teacher is supposed to be. She is supposed to be there for all of her students and not TELL THE WORLD how bad they are. If I were the School system I would FIRE this woman and not let her teach anymore in my school. She has some own issues to work on and not take it out on her students ONLINE. PATHETIC!! I agree, there is a lot of "parents" that consider themselves GOOD Parents but here in THE US there is too many idiots parenting and they should be not even allowed to have kids. Grow up people and take care of your KIDS in a better mature way!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard K

      SO she cannot complain about her students in a public forum., But its perfectly ok for you to complain about her in one. There is an old latin phrase you may want to look into. Quid pro quo.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. onlyslightlyamused

    There is no such thing as privacy on the internet. It literally let's you "read a person's mind" whether they want you to or not. Having said that-yes she used language that her "unintended" readers will find objectionable. We must keep in mind-it was not meant for us. Almost everyone will point fingers of blame for the sorry state of our schools. How many of us are willing to get involved and actually be a part of some solutions?....

    February 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mandy

    Richard K,, you are a BABY like brain or just ignorant. To be a TEACHER is to TEACH and not to make STUPID comments about her students. If I talk about you that you are an IDIOT it is not the same as TEACHER telling ONLINE that the students are etc. So grow up and tell me the definition of a TEACHER! She should give the young people inspiration and not talking such things about them ONLINE. This is not the way you do it as a teacher. Also, most of the teens are very hard to teach and this is the part of it. You as a teacher should try to do ANYTHING possible and try as hard as you can to teach your students the "right" way of live. Of course it's hard to do but talking bad about them on a TWITTER it's just pathetic to me. Kids need adults to teach them and not to pick on them.!!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard K

      OK I see its only teachers who fall in to the "You can't ever complain about anyone" area. How stupid of me to not see that. Because I am sure she sent the link to her students so they could read it, or perhaps she read it to them in the class. OH and the post did name names right? Funny when they gave me my teaching certificate they neglected to mention that I am no longer allowed to have opinions or express them.

      As for her example. Well notice no one is saying anything about her performance reviews, and no one is interviewing her students. Now in this age of "investigative" journalism why would that be? I am more then certain that some reporter somewhere has dug into her past and found nothing, or it would be in print by now. Also as for the president I seem to remember not that long ago he was raked over the coals for giving his opinion about a certain of precinct of one of the police forces, and last I checked he still had his job.

      As for being an example. We all should. Not just the teacher. Are you an example at the place where you work? Ever gossip about others you work with?

      Finally thank you for addressing my response now I need to go reread the first amendment to see where I missed the "this does not apply to teachers" clause.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chica for Change

      Boom! 10 points for Richard K!

      February 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Catherine

      To all,
      MUST SEE!!!! Richard confronts Mandy and gang.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbhnRuJBHLs&w=640&h=360]
      I'm with you Richard. Mandy, if you care so much about your children and their education, why don't you homeschool? I

      February 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard K

      Catherine,

      OUr last daughter was home schooled. Other had the option but decided to stick it out in public. the last changed her mind after the first year of high school. She switched, graduated at 16 and is in her second year of a speciality medical program....

      OH and I amost forgot... her reason for switching was becuase as she put it "Of how the other kids act!"

      February 22, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Richard K is joining the rest of the mob, who rather than focus on the behavior of Munroe, would rather spout rhetoric and make generalizations. His opinion is reactionary and isn't based upon any knowledge. Munroe will be releived of her teaching position, and the courts will uphold the disciplinary action. Teaching is a noble profession, and Munroe is unfit to teach.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. K

    She is absolutely right and within her rights to say what she wants! Anyone who is against what she is saying is either a parent of some snotty brat that needs a kick in the *ss or are guilty of being the obnoxious ones yourselves and recognise it.
    I'm a parent of 2 young children and I am raisin my kids to respect their teachers, and GOD help them if they don't! I just wish there were better parents out there and would take the responsibility on, just because you screwed doesn't mean you're adult enough to have kids, smarten up!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      She isn't "within her rights". Have you looked at PA law or her contract? Are you aware she blogged during classroom time?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tanya

    In UK, until recent times, there was practiced severe physical punishment in Eton, a boarding-school for aristocratic kids.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SolverMind

    Kids can say all kinds of awful things on Facebook and blogs about their teachers because those comments so far have been found to not disrupt the clasroom environment and fall under free speech.

    Teachers unfortunately do not have this same luxury since they sign an often broad code of conduct policy in most counties, which allows the county to fire them for almost anything.

    Teachers nowadays are expected to be part-time parents because parents are failing, part-time data analysts because schools have to show progress against standards, and full-time teachers.

    I wish universities would start teaching the reality of being a teacher and not an outdated, idealized version that no longer exists in the real world except in private schools.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SolverMind

    Teachers generally have to sign a broad code of conduct policy that reaches beyond school grounds, and that allows the county to fire them for almost anything.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Richp, Easton, Pa

    If this whole thing gets one set of parents off their azzes and into their kids education it's worth it. The biggest hindrance to education today is parents, they want baby sitters not teachers.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. personwhogetsit

    george carlin had it right...STOP CODDLING THEM. they need to have their proverbial asses kicked REGULARLY. high school graduates today seem barely fit to be a fast food cashier (and do it well). inanimate objects are not to blame either. parenting is to blame. if i told my parents or my teacher i didnt/couldnt/wont do something because my [inanimate object] made/caused/prevented/distracted me, it would have been HANDLED immediately. and i did not grow up in a strict environment whatsoever. nor am i 80,000 years old. there was just plenty of common sense and EFFORT and those two things GO FAR.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • personwhogetsit

      i would also like to add...when did the concept of delivering your child to class as a "finished product" so that learning can commence cease to be understood? if you want to teach a hairy mammal something advanced, you need to teach it to stop cr@pping and eating at the same time.

      February 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Daydreamer

    I'm the mother of a 6 year old boy with a development delay. My husband and I work very hard with him to be good and do his work in class. I'm not allowed in class for the full day and he knows the teaches don't have the authority to make him work. It is not all my fault that he is this way. He is his own person with his own will.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Richard K

    Is it just me or does anyone else notice a decided split here. In reading the post it seems that nearly all the ones that are "against" this teacher use "text speak". "cuz" ,"bc" and the like. While nearly all the ones supporting her do
    not.

    Maybe something to that and maybe not... just thought I might throw that out there.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Munroe's behavior wasn't responsible, creative, or constructive. In fact, Munroe's behavior models exactly the behavior she loathes. Are you aware that at least once, she blogged during class (9:01 am on a Thursday) and gave herself a
      "pass" since she was writing about students? I'm curious why more people aren't questioning the judgement of a woman who couldn't exercise enough restraint to refrain from hurling online insults at the students she's entrusted to teach? I wonder if anyone has bothered to look at CB East? They're a Blue Ribbon school and academically are among the top in the nation. She will be terminated and I think the courts will uphold the disciplinary action. Before you start spouting more rhetoric, try familiarizing yourself with PA law and PA teacher contracts.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Teachers generally enjoy rights to freedom of expression, though there are some restrictions. Teachers may not materially disrupt the educational interest of the school district, nor may teachers undermine authority or adversely affect working relationships at the school.

      Courts will often support disciplinary action taken by a school district when a teacher's private life affects the integrity of the school district or the effectiveness by which a teacher can teach

      March 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard K

      Fire,

      Interesting observations. she blogged during class time GASP!!!!!!!!!.. That’s all you have? That’s your one fact?... ok fine.. lets cook her A$$ for it, but again in all fairness we need to subpoena each and every students records and see if any of them ever texted during class (or school hours period) right.. and if so then they should be equally punished, suspension? for how long? Expulsion? Have we looked to see if any of them griped about her or any of their “teachers”, I guess its like mandy said.. its ok if you are just young and being cool right?

      I am making generalizations? Speaking without knowledge? ok. sure.. go reread... I freely admit that I have complained about others. I spoke of freedom of speech... perhaps that was the generalized and inflammatory part huh? I am sure you are all for free speech until someone says something you dislike. (hint: you post here already prove I am right on that one.)

      Oh and while we are on this…. As for the “what a teacher should and should not say and do thing….”

      It might help some of you “younger” posters to look at what was going on mid to late 60’s at the height of the Vietnam war and pay SPECIAL ATTENTION to where the anti war comments were coming from. Where most of the debate was taking place both for and against….

      And since it seems to have been missed I will state it plainly… what I am talking about here is equal accountability, if she is going to be flayed and then crucified for this, if she is made a monster for speaking her mind (again without naming names) then all the rest of us need to be treated likewise.

      Next?

      March 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. farquar

    What's worse than a whining student? A whining teacher that may just be incompetent.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chica for Change

      farquar, forgive me, but I think your comment is quite ignorant. Until you have spent the day in the life of a teacher you cannot even begin to understand. The learning environments in our school systems are out of control;continuing to punish teachers for expressing their frustrations and concerns is only going to perpetuate this problem.

      February 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemunroe

      Exactly. Isn't is ironic?

      March 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TESLAvision

    If teachers could put their 'foot in their ass' it wouldnt be too much whining from the disrespectful MTV raised punks

    February 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tony

    So in other words crucify the messenger. You may not like what she had to say but its the truth, and furthermore it was her right to say it. Parents HAVE become lazy and uninvolved with their children's education. They look at school as a babysitting service, they don't hold them accountable for their behavior or bad grades and there is little to nothing the school can do but eventually suspend them. Which is what almost always ends up happening. They don't want to learn so they start disrupting the rest of the class.

    You can't tie them down and tape their eye lids open and force them to learn. That starts at home. And I have a feeling a great deal of the people here bashing this teacher are the same parents who are part of the problem and just don't want to hear the truth. Just like you can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink, the same thing holds true for kids. You can bring them to school but you can't make them learn. They have to be engaged and willing to work, and kids are not being brought up that way anymore. Its not the teachers fault. Its this faulty idea that has come along in the past couple of decades that everyone is a winner even if they don't try, and even if they are truly terrible at what they are doing.

    The sad part is when the kids are failing the teacher gets to hear all about their terrible job, and not a single glance is given to the lazy parent who won't even show up to a parent teacher conference to discuss their child's performance. There use to be a time when teachers and parents sided with each other. It sent a very clear message to the child that screwing up wouldn't be tolerated. And interestingly, no one is willing to look at all the other successful students that come and go under the teachers watch. The focus is always on the students who've failed and never on the real source of the problem. Home.

    February 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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