Blogging Teacher Suspended for Calling Students Inappropriate Names
I wonder if any of my kids' teachers have secret blogs where they talk about my kids. I probably wouldn't want to read them because the truth is if they don't think my kids are superstars, I don't really want to know.
Natalie Munroe is a teacher in a Pennsylvania middle school and when she wrote on her blog, she really let it fly. She called her students: "rude, disengaged whiners" and admitted to hating a student. Even though she only used her first name and never mentioned her school, she got found out by her students and the administration. She was promptly suspended with pay and escorted out of the school.
Hours later, the media was at her front door and she has been defending her actions at every turn. Her readership has gone from seven people to tens of thousands. And despite the media attention, she is not backing down from her words, nor her right to blog.
She believed she had created a private place on the Internet to vent about the education system and her students as well as talk about the mundane aspects of her life. The school does not have a policy about teachers maintaining blogs or Facebook accounts. Now it is in the tough position of deciding if Munroe can be fired over her words.
Munroe's words have been called "verbal abuse" along with demands that she be fired. But her supporters are supporting her right to post about her feelings and also point to a flawed education system that expects teachers to deal with unprepared students.
Munroe wrote a rebuttal at her new site, the old one seems to have disappeared. She said that she stands by her words and is proud to have started a debate about the education system and a culture that blames teachers for the failures of the students.
I am torn by this issue. Does Munroe have a right to vent and call her students nasty names just because she can? What was her intent by starting a blog which by its very nature is public and searchable? She is a teacher and therefore being a role model is part of her job. Should she have used a diary or stuck with old-fashioned email?
Or, is it fair that teachers cannot write anonymously about their students? It's a tough job, shouldn't they be able to vent? Are they held up to a higher moral code by nature of their chosen, yet underpaid, career? If a teacher does not name her students or her school, or even give out her last name, can her writing on her own time really be considered a work problem? Teachers need to be able to criticize the education system, but is a blog a good place to do it?
I don't know the answer. My guess is that some of Munroe's students were probably jerks and unprepared - I'm not sure that means she had to label them as such. Munroe is not the only teacher to have a blog, and I am sure she is not the only one to complain about her students, but she got caught. Now what?
What do you think? Do you think that Munroe should be fired or disciplined? Do you think teachers have a right to complain online about their students?
Want more? Last year I wrote a post on how bloody aggravating it is to get out the door with three kids.