Not since last year when Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who unceremoniously quit his job with a royal “FU” to his employer and a planeload of passengers, has there been such an incident of public servant uproar as what occurred last week in suburban Philadelphia. Seems that Pennsylvania English teacher, Natalie Munroe, was suspended by her employer over profanity-laced posts on her own personal blog, which took her students to task for their disobedience and general laziness. According to Munroe’s writings, her students are not only “noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS” but they routinely, “curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire and are just generally annoying.”
Munroe’s moment in the spotlight was obviously inspired, as much out of sheer frustration, as it was by the desire to create a sort of rabid manifesto akin to a Jerry Maguire’s mission statement. Not satisfied with just a litany of complaints and grievances of her own, Munroe posted a fairly snarky list of some of the things she would ‘like to see added to the canned comment list’ for report cards ‘as an accurate reflection of what we really want to say to these parents’.
Here are a few of these Munroe sanctioned additions to the student report card:
‘A complete and utter j**k in all ways. Although academically ok, your child has no other redeeming qualities’
‘Two words come to mind: brown AND nose’
‘Gimme an A. I. R. H. E. A. D. What’s that spell? Your kid!’
‘Asked too many questions and took too long to ask them. The bell means it’s time to leave!’
Munroe also took issue with the parents of some of her less ideal students when she wrote, “Parents are more trying to be their kids’ friends and less trying to be their parent,” Munroe said, also noting students’ lack of patience. “They want everything right now. They want it yesterday.”
Without question, a teacher’s job is never easy, and oftentimes made enormously more difficult by the demands and insubordination of troubled students. Teachers deserve a break for their sometime thankless job. That said, it is hard to see the constructive nature of these comments. Intended to be a wake up call of sorts from the beleaguered Munroe (she is totally unapologetic about what she wrote and stands behind the sentiments as much as the language she used) this stab in the eye of school administrators, parents, and of course students will not likely change policy or minds. More than likely it will give Munroe a certain amount of notoriety and fleeting fame (as well as a few nasty looks from parents at the grocery store) but change things, it will not. Is being shamed publicly the way towards any constructive change, especially when it involves disaffected students and their indignant parents? While Munroe was certainly entitled to her opinion (and likely deserved much better) was it appropriate for her to make such a brutal attack on the people she is so desperately trying to teach? Has anyone learned anything from this?