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 couldn’t find the class blog, but I found this,” he told Munroe the next day. “Is it yours?”

“Yes,” he said she told him. “It’s a private blog. Just for friends of mine.”

But by midnight on February 8th, it seemed as if all 1,650 kids at East had clicked the link. Some even snapped screenshots of the pages so that if Munroe took it down, they’d still have proof. They read it all: She chastised administrators and colleagues—“Fuck them!” “Assholes”; she labeled students “dishonest shitwads,” “a disgusting brood of insolent, unappreciative, selfish brats,” “the devil’s spawn.”

In the January 21, 2010, post that would soon become infamous, she explained that, while she typically wrote “cooperative in class” on most report cards, she wished she could write other things: “Rude beligerent [sic] argumentative fuck,” “Am concerned your kid is going to come in one day and open fire on the school. (Wish I was kidding.),” “Dresses like a streetwalker,” “There’s no other way to say this: I hate your kid.”

That Tuesday night, students punched back online:

Jokes on you because this link is being cycled throughout the students of CB East via facebook. Have fun applying for unemployment. Sincerely, ‘cooperative in class.’

… [S]he probably found a piece of toilet paper in the trash that a guy cleaned up after himself with and impregnated herself.

I originally didn’t completely loath you like the rest of the junior class, but my feelings have now changed.

Principal Lucabaugh didn’t read any of it until the following morning. By then, messages from angry parents filled his voice-mail, some requesting their kids be removed from Munroe’s classroom. He printed out the blog posts and started reading.

“I couldn’t imagine that an educator would feel this way—and then post it with that kind of vitriol,” he says.

He actually hoped it was a mistake, that the teacher wasn’t Munroe. He thought he’d been so clear, warning his staff to be careful about what they posted online. But the school’s official policy applied only to using district computers: “Employees may not use the district network, computer devices or other resources for personal activities.”

The website for Pennsylvania’s teacher’s union lists clearer guidelines: “Each time you post a photograph or information on the Web, make sure you would gladly show it to the following people: your mother, your students, your superintendent, the editor of the New York Times.” Further, it states that an employee’s speech is not protected online if “it causes disruption in the workplace.”

What defined “disruption”? Students rushing around with copies of a teacher’s blog? News vans parking outside school? Students asking teachers, “Do all of you think this way about us?”

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

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • 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?