Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teacher whose barbed blog made headlines is fired. From USA Today.

A Pennsylvania high school teacher whose barbed blog posts about her students caused a national stir last year, has been fired for "unsatifsactory performance," The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Natalie Munroe, an English teacher at Central Bucks High School East, was fired Tuesday by the Central Bucks school board in a 7-0 vote, the newspaper says.

In a statement, the board president said Munroe had been experiencing "performance difficulties well before her blog became an issue."

In anticipation of the dismissal, Munroe had filed suit against the board last week, claiming it had violated her constitutional right to free speech "by harassing and retaliating against her."

Munroe was suspended in February 2011 -- and later reinstated --after her blog posts, which referred to some students as "dunderheads" or "ratlike," became widely circulated.

17 comments:

  1. Is anyone surprised?

    It was just a matter of time before they got rid of her.

    I hope she ends up with a HUGE settlement.

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  2. Thank goodness she won't have to put up students she so clearly and publicly despises.

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    1. Some students, Mr. Rango. Some students.

      You obviously have never taught in the real world, sir.

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  3. And people wonder why academic freedom, tenure, and rights to due process are important to teachers/professors.

    How is anything supposed to change when teachers can't speak honestly about their experiences?

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    1. Academic freedom? There's nothing related to academics here. In this instance, her actions were analogous to anybody working in a business who publicly insults her customers online. She can and perhaps should be fired.

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    2. Like you should be fired for participating here?

      Get a clue.

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    3. While to some extent, my complaints and hers are similar in tone, I think there's a key difference. I have gone to great lengths to ensure that nobody would find out who I am. She posted a picture of herself, used her first name and last initial and, likely, told somebody about her blog. (The odds of somebody associated with her school randomly finding hers among the millions of blogs are pretty low.) If my dean were to question my postings at CM or RYS, I would delete them immediately. Apparently, she kept the posts up and continued blogging about it. If I were to behave like she did, I probably would be fired and, as I said in her case, I might deserve it.

      Another distinction is that we are criticizing adults who freely attend our schools. She teaches at a public school in a system that provides students and parents little choice in their teachers.

      No, I don't think I have the right to employment when I publicly insult my employer or students to the degree and in the manner that she did.

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    4. It's so strange... I completely disagree with Ben on this one, but a phrase like "get a clue" almost entirely reversed my opinion.

      (sigh)

      I think that it's important to fight for an assumption of privacy on the public net -- rules against speaking about your work or prohibiting drinking outside of the job or any similar controlling actions from my employer (ie, give me your fb password) should be resisted.

      Employers are not loyal to us; why should we be loyal to them? Customers and students are both occasionally terrible people. Why bow down and scrape before them?

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    5. We should resist attempts at overzealous snooping into our private lives. One complaint about my students after a few beers at a bar should not get me fired.

      I don't think it's a matter of kowtowing to our students. My behavior reflects upon my school. If I complain about my students, other parents won't want to send their kids to my class for fear that their son or daughter would be the subject of my next rant. If I stagger out of the bar each night, people will think that my school's faculty is a bunch of drunks. These behaviors diminish my school's reputation, which huts not just me but everybody that I work with and all current and former students, to some small extent.

      I suppose this does sound like loyalty, now that I read my own thoughts, but not loyalty to my school. It's loyalty to my colleagues, students and staff who would be impacted if I were identified with my CM smackdowns.

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  4. I think it's a shame, since by and large I agree with her:

    "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...The issue with my job is bigger than me. It's about freedom of speech. It's about having integrity and not compromising the truth. It's about the downward spiral of our education system and the low value that people place on education. It's about making people accountable. It's about standing up for personal beliefs and not apologizing when those beliefs aren't popular."

    That she was fired smacks of shooting the messenger. Now you know why I never post anything really scandalous, even to CM. Just how anonymous are we, really? Not that, of course, I'd have anything really scandalous to post, having been a good boy all my life, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha ha?

    I don't mean to criticize the moderators, who have always been kind to me. But what -would- happen if they were served a subpoena? We discussed that some time ago, but I'm not sure we settled the issue.

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    1. We would have to say something that warranted a subpoena first. Bitching about students isn't actionable, as the lawyers say. If somebody criticized a student by his real name, that would probably violate FERPA which could lead to trouble.

      There's really nothing that Blogger could do, although I'm sure they would cooperate if a court subpoenaed the name of the offending post's author. But then what? I'm registered as Beaker Ben with a gmail account just for CM. They could trace an ISP. I don't think that's reliable as an identifier but I could be wrong.

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    2. Ben, are you in the camp that students behavior like this because of pedagogy? Kids are worse in less capable teachers' classes? I might subscribe to that idea, but not entirely. Interested to see your take on the reasons behind our students' behavior.

      As for the subpoena, I think that if we have all done our due diligence to hide the details of our actual situations, then we should all be fine even with requested legal documents. I always change the number of students, gender, quotes, university situation, degree of challenge, discipline, etc etc with each story. I assume we all do (maybe not?).

      If subpoenaed, I suspect they would not be able to trace any of my posts to any real-life situation.

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    3. Pedagogy has some influence. Bad teachers can make things worse and good teachers can make students better but only to a certain extent. Poor behavior by students is caused by poor parenting and society at large. (So says the father of a daughter whose angelic nature is scientifically verifiable.)

      Our society has changed in many good ways over the past 50 years but not necessarily in ways that benefit children as they are raised. For example, women work more, parents have children without being married and married parents get divorced more. All are manifestations of greater economic and personal freedom. I welcome that trend, generally, but we should expect trade-offs, not solutions.

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    4. Oy veh. I was with you mostly, Ben, till now. Guess what: working-class women have always worked, some of us can't get married legally, and some of us have perfectly awesome single moms. I'm always suspicious of arguments that blame society's ills on family structure. The nuclear family with the stay-at-home mom was a 25-year blip on the screen.

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  5. I still stand by what I wrote in February: I despise the lese majeste of the students and their stumblefuck parents; I want the town demolished, and the townies forced into punishment battalions in Afghanistan.

    Either that or George Bush and the true president, that zombie robot Cheney tried in Den Haag. Your choice. The obviously guilty ex-politicos, or innocent townies who had nothing to do with Natalie Munroe's class(es)?

    Think about it.

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    1. Bush has to live with the fact that the public's displeasure with him resulted in Obama being elected. That is a heavy burden for any republican.

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