Talk about a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Natalie Munroe, a Pennsylvania high school teacher, has been suspended from her job for writing an anonymous blog. The subject? How much she hated her students.
Although she kept both her identity and that of her students private, Munroe detailed the life of a 30-year-old English teacher day by day. She called the kids "rude, lazy, disengaged whiners." She called out parents (again, not using names) with the frank "There's no other way to say this, I hate your kid."
Sounds like Munroe was flat-out unhappy with her job at the Central Bucks East High School. But was she really saying anything the kids' own parents aren't saying? Anything so egregious she should lose her job?
On an average day on Facebook, I read scores of status updates from parents whining about their kids. Little Johnny just colored on the walls, I'm sending him to live in the zoo! Little Susie is making me tear my hair out! Little Billy spent four hours cumulative in time-out today, and I needed the relief! And even more parents step outside of the semi-privacy of Facebook to share their troubles with the world. The "mommy needs a cocktail" genre of blogs is based entirely around the concept that kids drive their parents nuts.
As I've said to my own husband once or twice when our daughter was driving me especially crazy, "I love her very much, but right now, I just don't like her very much." Get that? We love our kids, and they still drive us crazy.
And we're not alone. As much as we'd like to make excuses for our kids, when they leave our house, they aren't perfect. They're out there driving the rest of the world nuts too. Munroe isn't even these kids' parent (although she is pregnant). She doesn't have biology to connect them. Just a paycheck and a sense of duty.
Munroe's words may not be tempered by the "I love her very much" side, but it didn't have to be. Her actions inside the school provided that tempering. Because it's only since the blog came to light that officials have yanked Munroe out of the classroom. Up until then, she was apparently just another teacher doing her job and helping kids. And like anyone who works with kids -- yes, even parents -- she was frustrated.
Frustrated by kids she said were "out of control" and unwilling to work, and by an administration that she told Good Morning America continued to sweep problems under the rug instead of dealing with them. Sounds like your average American employee, doesn't it? In that case, she's got yet another story on her side. Dawnmarie Souza was fired for bad-mouthing her bosses at American Medical Response of Connecticut on Facebook last year. The National Labor Relations Board took up her case, and this month Souza won a settlement for wrongful termination.
Munroe might not have said things people like to hear, but that doesn't negate her right to feel them or even to say them -- provided she maintained student privacy. It's the American right to free speech coupled with a teacher's right -- nay, need -- to blow off steam.
Working with kids is a tough job. I love my daughter, but I'd never take a teaching job because I know I can't handle a room full of kids every day. I respect the people who do it day after day, especially on the high school end where teens are surly and uncommunicative. I can understand them wanting to tear their hair out and have a glass of wine ... maybe even bang out a diatribe on the Internet about it. The simple fact is, teachers deal with our kids day in and day out. If we get angry, annoyed, frustrated, we have to recognize they do too!
Do you think Natalie Munroe deserves to be fired for this?
Image via DeclanTM/Flickr