Another One Bites the Dust: Response to Natalie Monroe’s Suspension

16 Feb

If you’re a professional blogger, by the close of business today you’ll know the name Natalie Monroe.

Who is Natalie Monroe? Natalie Monroe is a high school English teacher who, until a few days ago, worked at Central Bucks High School East in Pennsylvania. She is 30 years old with a young child and another due in just a few weeks. She’s had a blog going since August of 2009 which is a fairly short amount of time in blogger-world. So why is she getting so much media attention now? Because she wrote about how she feels about her work and, more importantly, her students.

My students are out of control. They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.

That is a direct quote from Natalie’s blog, which has been deleted. Thanks to the wonderful Google cache feature, however, you can view a number of her blogs online.

From what I’ve been able to ascertain, Natalie wrote about her students but never once named where she worked, nor did she ever name any one of her students. She doesn’t even write where she lives. The closest thing that I can see she has for identifying information is her photograph and the name which pops up on her Blogger profile (although I’m not sure if the name was there previously or if it has only been there since her blog was discovered a few days ago). For all anyone knows, Natalie Monroe could have been a completely fake persona.

Except that she wasn’t. It’s still unclear as to whether parents or students found the blog (one news company says parents, another says students), but someone found it. In just a few short hours Natalie went from being a normal high school teacher to being escorted out of the building. Her name started making the news circuits and reporters began showing up at her door.

Being fired from your job for blogging isn’t new (although as of this post Natalie is not yet fired and is suspended with pay), but so far I’ve found no cases where teachers get fired for talking about students. So really, at this point in time, neither the school nor the school district has any idea what they’re going to do about this situation.

My Two Cents: I’ve read a few of the blog posts that are currently being talked about right now, and I have to say that while what she has to say is harsh and at some points seems a bit cruel, I can see where she’s coming from and I don’t feel that she should be fired for expressing her opinion.

Point 1: What happened to freedom of speech? And I quote: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It seems like now we’re dealing with a nation that doesn’t believe in freedom of speech, but believes in freedom of speech “as long as you’re not pissing someone else off”. That’s where the whole “politically correct” movement comes in. I’m sorry, but if you’re acting like a douchebag, I have the right to say that I think that you’re acting like a douchebag whether you want to hear it or not.

Natalie Monroe vented her frustrations about her students on her blog. She never maligned anyone personally and she never posted names. Freedom of speech, people!

Point 2: She was only talking about something that sane people have realized for awhile: kids are starting to believe that they deserve everything that they want and that they don’t have to work for it. Parents are becoming friends instead of caretakers rule makers. This is leading to children who feel entitled and who, when they don’t get their way, often become out of control.

I shocked a person the other day when I talked about my old grade school science teacher. He taught 5 – 8th graders. When I was in 8th grade I was sent to detention for dropping the F-bomb (it was completely on accident and the ONLY time I was in detention). I was frustrated and, yes, pissed off that I’d gotten detention and so I was spacing out. This teacher, Mr. D, was trying to talk and could see that I was spacing out, so he took his yardstick and smacked it across my desk, creating a very loud smacking noise that woke not only me up, but probably the dead in the cemetery down the road as well. The person I told this too was shocked that he was allowed to do it.

“Why?” I asked. “He didn’t physically or mentally hurt me. He wasn’t aiming for my fingers or anything else – he was simply trying to get my attention and did it in a big way.”

“Do that today and a teacher’s likely to get fired.” She responded.

But why? Even though Mr. D did smack my desk and make me wake up, I still remember him as an amazing and actually very empathetic teacher, even though he’d come across gruff at times. He cared about the kids enough to give tough love if it was necessary.

If only parents could do that today. And I don’t mean that you have to beat your child – I mean that you shouldn’t let your child do whatever they want to do. I know a number of parents who are extremely permissive to the point where it’s becoming a detriment to the child. Children who are allowed to play video games at all hours of the night, even though they have school the next day, and children who are so spoiled at home that they truly become little shits on the playground.

I’m sure dealing with teenagers is a much more frustrating situation, and I can understand and empathize with Natalie writing about these kids. Parents look to teachers to raise their children since they’ve stopped doing it, but the minute that a teacher does one thing that the parents don’t like, even if it’s done in the best interest of the child, they have a hissy fit. Come on parents! Start parenting your own children and this wouldn’t be a problem!

I wish all the best for Natalie, for while I do think that some of her posts were pretty harsh, she was only venting the frustration that was caused by dealing with children who feel as though they are deserve to have the world handed to them on a silver platter.

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18 Responses to “Another One Bites the Dust: Response to Natalie Monroe’s Suspension”

  1. Sherry February 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Whether firing her is right or wrong, she was still stupid to do it. Anyone who blogs for more than ten seconds knows the name Heather Armstrong. Heather didn’t name names either and I’m pretty sure she didn’t name the company either, but she still lost her job for blogging about her boss and co-workers. Since that moment anyone who is smart and wants to keep their job does NOT blog about the people they work with beyond the straightforward “I had lunch with some of my co-workers”.

    In related news, I really enjoy the blog written by the teacher who committed to eating a school lunch every day in order to discuss how awful some school food is but if she ever gets found out she’s screwed.

  2. LeAnna February 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    I fully understand a teachers frustrations that can continue repeatedly, but as a current college student I feel that it is inappropriate to give a descriptive detail of each circumstance that she encountered. Yes, you can say you had a bad day, but honestly isn’t this type of discussion meant for the husband? We all view things in our own shoes and possibly this is a chance for students to realize teachers stances on issues as well. Although, I highly disagree with her on the certain part of her bitch fest where she did the kid wrong with wanting an A. Is that not what she was complaining about in general? Kids not putting an effort. In my eyes that kid was putting an effort and we’ve all had those bad days. I would have to applaud the kids motivation to continue to press her about the subject actually. If he even involved his parents into the situation then I would take it more seriously that it was just an off day for him and possibly work out some situation for him. I feel the part where she says that the english department leaves no room for extra credit is an excuse and just a sign of someone who no longer needs to teach, because they are not willing to be compromising! Sounds like she is extremely stubborn and needs to work on that before furthering her educational career.

  3. Peter Jones February 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Good for her!!! I agree with her and I am glad that she had the guts to say it.

  4. CollegeProfessor February 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    I teach at the college level, and I see these same things. But, where do WE go to vent and exchange ideas? It annoys me to no end that student can go to rateyourprofessor.com and bitch about how unfair professors are. Someone who came late to every class, missed half the classes, didn’t study can attack me on that site and tell the world I am a terrible instructor. Why isn’t the school suspending these students?

    As to Leann… you need to be on the other side. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to plan a lesson, and then find out 3 our of 30 students have read the chapter? So much for discussion… how can people discuss something they haven’t read? Or collect an assignment, and have less than half the class turn it in?

    I tell students that up until the week before an assignment is due, I’ll review it and tell them how to improve. I have NEVER, in 6 years, NEVER, had a student take advantage of this offer, yet they complain about a low grade.

    I have had PARENTS call me to discuss their offspring’s grade. IN COLLEGE. One student filed a grade appeal 3 semesters ago. The student came late to EVERY class, fresh DD iced drink in hand (skip the drink and get to class on-time). The student arrived 45 minutes late for a 1 hour 15 minute test, and argued for more time. The same happened for the second test.

    I’d like to know why people are berating the teacher, and not looking at the student behavior.

  5. Cyndi February 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    After reading the last comment (which is spot on, by the way), I’m thinking about starting a new blog where teachers/professors can anonymously “rate their students.” I would have loved that when I was a teacher.

    I taught 11th grade for several years in the 90s — and it’s probably good that I wasn’t blogging back then, because I might have lost my job, too. I had some really wonderful students (some of whom I still keep in touch with) and some who nearly (okay, actually) drove me to drink. I feel Natalie’s pain — and her need to vent.

    Free speech (which I think should be defended in this case) and smart blogger (because she probably should have known better) issues aside, I hope this whole story sparks a real discussion about student behavior. Clearly teachers and administrators have a responsibility to create an engaging and rigorous learning environment, but students (and by proxy, their parents) have a responsibility to be active participants (and even leaders) in their own learning.

    One of the many reasons I’m not in teaching anymore? Because even if I stayed up late planning lessons, grading papers and writing comments for students, I might still arrive at school to discover that my students hadn’t done anything to prepare for my class. Although teaching was exciting and amazing in many ways, it was ultimately the most exhausting and emotionally draining job I’ve ever had.

  6. scootersbabygirl February 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Sherry – I hem and haw about whether it was stupid or not because, hey, I’ve been found and persecuted by friends and family for my own blog, so apparently I’m stupid too LOL.

    LeAnna – A good friend of mine, who was a certified teacher, said that the all teachers said the kink of things that Natalie did, but that they vented on Friday nights at the bar LOL. I think one thing that we’re going to have to decide as a society is whether blogging is “okay”, or not.

    Peter Jones – I’m with ya!

    CollegeProfessor – Parents calling to discuss their children’s grade while they’re in college? PLEASE! My mother’s graduation gift to me was luggage, she knew that I had to get out and learn things on my own. That just seems crazy! I absolutely agree that they should be looking at the students as well as the teacher – everyone should be held accountable for their actions.

  7. scootersbabygirl February 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    Cyndi – I think a place where teachers could anonymously post their feelings, or rate their students, as you said, would be an AMAZING idea!! Both Scott and I have felt, for a long time, that parents aren’t being parents anymore. While you’ll still find a few great parents, more often than not you find ones who needs to be seriously smacked.

  8. Josh Nierstheimer February 17, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    I know teachers who fail students because they dusapprove of a students argument in a paper. This teacher sounds like she would be if people are going up to her and complaining about grades.

  9. City Girl February 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    I, too, am an educator and the problem is teachers do not have the opportunity to vent their frustrations and be invited into a conversation whereby our opinions can actually change the education system for the better. Many people that have not been in classrooms for years or even people who do not have any educational experience are the ones making the educational decisions and this only adds to the frustration. With that being said, Natalie Monroe needs to quit the profession of teaching because she doesn’t appear to enjoy her job at all. Apparently she didn’t expect her “rude, lazy, disengaged, rat-like whiners who are frightfully dim” to be smart enough to find her blog…DUH!!!!!

  10. scootersbabygirl February 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    It’s never right to fail a student because you disapprove of their argument, as long as the argument’s solid. I hope that she’s not one of those types of teachers!

  11. scootersbabygirl February 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    I was at a school board meeting last night and let me tell you that I completely empathize with the teachers, because us parents don’t have the opportunity to affect change either! We’re constantly ignored and I can only imagine how frustrating that is for an educator.

  12. An Intersted Student February 18, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    respectfully disagree with the idea that teenagers use the internet to bash others and do not read books anymore because we are websurfing and on social networking sites. All these assumptions are extremely stereotypical and personally offensive. The biggest issue I have with your post is that you are justifying two wrongs make a right. Even if you offensive assumption is true of some teen age students, it does not justify a teacher who serves as a role model for students to go and rant about her frustrations about the educational system. Also in my opinion, Ms. Monroe has most definitely directly disrupted her workplace with her online blog. As a student, if I were to see one of my teachers calling her students out in such a harsh way I would never go back into that class with the same attitude towards the class because of Ms. Monroe’s blog and her comments directly from it. It would definitely negatively impact my educational experience in the class. I do think she would be fired. She posted on campus when the school is paying her to teach not blog which also shows her blog did impede her effectiveness on the job if she’s blogging at work. Also ethically, I don’t know how you can see this entire blog as something that is “okay.” Even if it was meant for family and friends, is it right to talk so negatively about your own students when you think your boss or student’s parents will see? That’s where a person’s ethics come into play- just because Ms. Monroe thought no one will see what she was posting doesn’t mean she should forget who you work for and how and what you represent.

  13. Sam February 20, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Quite clearly, you have no idea what the freedom of speech means. It does not mean you get to keep your job no matter what you say.

    In fact, there are many areas in schools where freedom of speech is curtailed permissibly. Teachers cannot proselytize their religious faith in public schools, or bully, or give medical diagnoses such as ADHD. They are at risk of being fired for any of these.

    Any reason you’re not complaining about your freedom of speech as a child, when you dropped the F-bomb? A teacher punished you (restricting your freedom of movement) for speech, after all.

  14. Bob July 29, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    In a nutshell her complaints are why this country is in the sorry state it is in today. In the 50’s this kind of student abuse was tolerated neither by the school nor the parents. Today their children can do no wrong. Some kids are not just mischievous but downright evil. I taught for 6 months to replace a teacher they had destroyed and they would have been happy to do the same to me. All the laws were on their side. They cheated on tests via laptop and cellphone. I told one student if he didn’t study he would get a zero on a test. His mother claimed the next day I was harassing him and he was so devastated he couldn’t come to class.The school rules had no teeth. Why? there was too much private school tuition at stake. I can totally relate to her. Another example of societal liberalism that is destroying this country and is indeed a mental disorder. When the hell is this country going to wake up?

  15. Res August 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    @ Bob.

    Can you elaborate on what liberalism has anything to do with your complaints? It just seems like you threw in a random it’s lefties fault for no apparent reason.

  16. EducatorOfCommonSense August 11, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    When I, as a teacher, have a beef about one of my students, I discuss it with my colleagues and try to come to some resolution, get feedback & suggestions, and yes, even bitch about them. This process allows for me to also use that interaction as a fall back if the issue goes further, for I have verification with colleagues that I have attempted a resolution. This woman is a D.A. for blogging about her students in a forum where she could be recognized. I blog about issues that some of my students disagree with, but would NEVER blog about my students in any way! Many of my blogs are not in agreement with US DEPT of ED, nor the liberal establishent that dictates to my profession; however, I would be a fool to blog about my boss or the students. That is for the water cooler discussion!

    The First Amendment addresses that “CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    That being said, if this were an employee in the private sector, blogging on company time in and of itself is grounds for termination (forget about the content).
    Now to address the content: If the employee also blogged in a derrogatory manner clients of the corporation, the corporation could possibly lose the client; thus the employee could be terminated!
    Now that the freedom of speech issue has been discussed, let us look to the religious freedom (since a blogger here, Sam, brought it up). Again we are dealing with a strict interpretation of the 1st Amendment which addresses GOVERNMENT establishment of a religion. Teachers (& students) have been prevented from the public expression of their faith at their scools for far too long and organizations like the ACLU and the NEA support this infringement! It seems that someone wants to have their cake and eat it too!

    Now we address the peaceable assembly issue:
    All parents and students, and even opposing colleagues, should assemble around this vile woman’s classroom and show solidarity that opposes this POS!
    Now, I am not without sympathy for the woman’s grief, for I taught 9 yrs in a Juvenile Corrections Center and currently teach at a university and part time at a community college, but if I were as miserable as she were, I’d get another job! I too have had serious issues with students that are unruly and even violent.
    And in my college career, have had parents contact me about their college students and I welcome their contact. After all, they are the ones funding their kids’ education and I don’t fault them for being concerned about their investment! I also do not fault the public school parents and tax payers for wanting to be concerned about their funding of a failed public education system and wanting accountability!
    We must do away with The US Dept of Education, the teachers unions, and return to letting the local PEOPLE run the local schools. They are OUR schools not DC’s and not the NEA’s! If the people in that community want the vile woman out of there, that should be their prerogative!

    “Put your Bible away Johnny or I will expell you; Oh, here is your condom, now get to your mandatory gay sensititvity workshop!”

  17. EducatorOfCommonSense August 11, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    When I, as a teacher, have a beef about one of my students, I discuss it with my colleagues and try to come to some resolution, get feedback & suggestions, and yes, even bitch about them. This process allows for me to also use that interaction as a fall back if the issue goes further, for I have verification with colleagues that I have attempted a resolution. This woman is a D.A. for blogging about her students in a forum where she could be recognized. I blog about issues that some of my students disagree with, but would NEVER blog about my students in any way! Many of my blogs are not in agreement with US DEPT of ED, nor the liberal establishent that dictates to my profession; however, I would be a fool to blog about my boss or the students. That is for the water cooler discussion!

    The First Amendment addresses that “CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    That being said, if this were an employee in the private sector, blogging on company time in and of itself is grounds for termination (forget about the content).
    Now to address the content: If the employee also blogged in a derrogatory manner clients of the corporation, the corporation could possibly lose the client; thus the employee could be terminated!
    Now that the freedom of speech issue has been discussed, let us look to the religious freedom (since a blogger here, Sam, brought it up). Again we are dealing with a strict interpretation of the 1st Amendment which addresses GOVERNMENT establishment of a religion. Teachers (& students) have been prevented from the public expression of their faith at their schools for far too long and organizations like the ACLU and the NEA support this infringement!
    It seems that someone wants to have their cake and eat it too!

    Now we address the peaceable assembly issue:
    All parents and students, and even opposing colleagues, should assemble around this vile woman’s classroom and show solidarity that opposes this POS!
    Now, I am not without sympathy for the woman’s grief, for I taught 9 yrs in a Juvenile Corrections Center and currently teach at a university and part time at a community college, but if I were as miserable as she were, I’d get another job! I too have had serious issues with students that are unruly and even violent.
    And in my college career, have had parents contact me about their college students and I welcome their contact. After all, they are the ones funding their kids’ education and I don’t fault them for being concerned about their investment! I also do not fault the public school parents and tax payers for wanting to be concerned about their funding of a failed public education system and wanting accountability!
    We must do away with The US Dept of Education, the teachers unions, and return to letting the local PEOPLE run the local schools. They are OUR schools not DC’s and not the NEA’s! If the people in that community want the vile woman out of there, that should be their prerogative!

    “Put your Bible away Johnny or I will expell you from the 1st grade. Oh, here is your tax payer funded condom, now get to your mandatory gay sensitivity workshop!”

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