Natalie Munroe: A Tale of a Teacher in a Digital Age

The Central Bucks East teacher who was suspended for blogging about her students is trying to change education—one blog post at a time

“I wish this hullabaloo hadn’t happened at all,” she says.

In fact, it wasn’t until she saw her photo on the five o’clock news on the day she was suspended that she realized this “hullabaloo” was big.

And bad.

NBC 10 outlined the basics—details that would be repeated over the next several weeks, from Doylestown’s Intelligencer, to the Philadelphia Inquirer, to the Associated Press, to “Good Morning America,” to Bill Maher, to CNN, to the BBC:

A teacher from Bucks County had blogged that her students were “a bunch of lazy jerks,” “out of control” and “rude.” In one post, she listed comments she wished she could write on report cards: “lazy asshole,” “frightfully dim,” “rat-like,” “Just as bad as his sibling. Don’t you know how to raise kids?”

“I made the determination to suspend her from her duties,” Lucabaugh told NBC 10, taped in his office at East.

“I think she should be fired,” senior Helen Rowland chided on air.

Munroe, typically opinionated and chatty, watched her TV that evening in silence, mouth hanging open, stunned not only by how her blog was being interpreted, but that the story had gone so public so fast. She’d spent the day in lockdown in her Warminster home, towels hung over the picture window, ignoring knocks from NBC 10, CBS 3 and newspaper reporters.

“I was seeing footage of students in school,” says Munroe. “Someone said, ‘Okay, press, come on in’? I didn’t know what the hell was going on.”

“We were so over our heads,” says her husband, Brian, a Radnor policeman on medical leave. He watched the news alongside his wife and tried to distract their three-year-old, Lily, who’d kept asking all day why strangers were walking around their yard.

Days later, flanked by an attorney, Munroe, 30, would finally spill her side to the cameras: She never thought anyone would find the blog. She never named any kids, the school, the district or the state where she lived. She never even named herself, posting as “Natalie M.,” though she did include one photo—a personal snapshot taken in her living room that was now being downloaded by strangers and plastered on TV. Her attorney noted that the First Amendment protected Munroe. In other words, she’d done nothing wrong.

“I’m sorry it was taken out of context. But I’m not sorry I wrote it,” she explained on TV and in newspapers and on radio shows. It’s a stance she’s still not backing down from now, two and a half months later: “I stand by what I wrote.”

Lots of people have applauded her for it. In the media firestorm that erupted, MSNBC conducted a poll of more than 84,000 people: Ninety-six percent thought Munroe should not have been suspended. Supporters from across the country wrote “Go Natalie!” on her blog.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 < Previous Next >View as One Page
  • Tad

    Ready for a brave, new, and wildly unique teacher’s journal? One that’s deeply thoughtful, literate, and downright funny? Then enjoy A Dixie Diary, at http://www.adixiediary.com.

    The response from readers all over the world has been astonishing. Actually debuting during the midst of the Natalie Munroe business, this unique online journal shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse by a rookie special education teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way than Mrs. Munroe. Sure, there are some intense student-teacher moments, even some choice words, too, but mostly it’s world-class hilarious and heartwarming … like reading a good book.

    It’s the look at a teacher’s madcap classroom world we’ve been waiting for. It’s simply mesmerizing.

  • Mary

    Most teachers encounter resistance from students, whether it’s apathy or obstinance, whether it’s done publicly or privately. Most teachers have sounding boards to vent frustrations to: spouses, co

  • Jeff

    Natalie Munroe displayed disastrously poor judgment, gross immaturity and–perhaps most damning–a startlingly low level of web-savviness. (Teachers should know at least as much as their students do.) By the time this is all over, she’s likely to have become an expert in only one thing: the laws governing libel and invasion of privacy.

  • Frank

    Your comment is one of a knee jerk reaction to a limited amount of information. Did you read the original blog? How can someone be held accountable for “libel, invasion of pri” when NO NAMES were mentioned, NO SCHOOL was mentioned, and it was ANONYMOUS! Get your facts straight!

  • Frank

    Your comment is one of a knee jerk reaction to a limited amount of information. Did you read the original blog? How can someone be held accountable for “libel, invasion of pri” when NO NAMES were mentioned, NO SCHOOL was mentioned, and it was ANONYMOUS! Get your facts straight!

  • Jeff

    It does not matter whether specific names were mentioned. What matters is that the targets of her vitriol were easily identifiable. Everyone in the school quickly knew who she was talking about. Not naming names is no protection.

  • Jeff

    Read this all the way through: http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation. “To state a defamation claim, the person claiming defamation need not be mentioned by name—the plaintiff only needs to be reasonably identifiable.”

  • Jeff

    Go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation Web site. Search for: Online Defamation Law

  • Jennifer

    It’s a shame, since she posted this, the only thing she should be punished for is admitting she posted one of her blogs online at school. Otherwise, she is no more at fault than the children. This

  • Jennifer

    students referred to her as comparable to the holocaust…watching your parents and siblings being slaughtered in front of you? really? Grow up. This is our future, maybe in a few weeks? What a sc

  • teddy

    cant believe we cant read the blogs?