Battle Between Free Speech and Professionalism

by Brianna Kuplent

Horizon Reporter

A story surfaced a couple of weeks ago about Pennsylvania high school teacher Natalie Munroe, who posted a blog about her students and was then suspended with pay because of the blog’s content. The blog talked about her students being “lazy whiners” among other comments, and Munroe felt that the issue of unmotivated students in the classroom needs to come to attention. A controversy has sprung up since then about teachers having the right to blog when students have Ratemyprofessor.com and are free to post anything they want about teachers.    Some people applaud her for “telling it how it is” and getting the message out, while others say that she needs to be fired. If you have already read the blog you know that Munroe said that her students were more than just “lazy whiners.” The purpose for the blog was that she was thinking of what comments to put on the report cards, examples such as that students who “have no personality” would write up as having the “ability to work independently.” Other than the comments that the media has pushed out there relentlessly, there’s also “Am concerned that your kid is going to come in one day and open fire on the school. (Wish I was kidding.),” and, “Rude, beligerent, argumentative f**k.”

When Munroe posted the blog she didn’t say which school she was from, say any names of students, and only put at the bottom “Natalie M” with her picture at the top of the page. Munroe can’t be sued for slander because there are no specific names tied to the comments, and the Freedom of Speech right that all Americans have allows her to post whatever she feels whether it’s right or wrong. The blog has been taken off the Web site, and the newer blogs that Munroe has posted are allowed because she only talks about how the effect of the blog has changed her life.           

Does this mean that we’ll have to screen teachers, not only for fingerprinting, but also send them to a psychologist before they’re hired? She complains of being “locked” in the same room with students that she doesn’t like, but think of how her students feel. If a teacher was sending off those kinds of signals (like she doesn’t want to be there), how would you act? If I was a student I would not want to talk to her because it seems that she can’t control her classroom, and for the more mischievous students I can see why they enjoy giving her a bad time.

In my opnion, Natalie Munroe should be fired and she should not have been suspended with pay, the state that is paying for her to sit on her butt is having economic issues like everyone else and should not pay her while she is spending her time, which she could be doing instructing students, appearing on television shows. On Good Morning America Robin Roberts asked Munroe how she would feel about someone posting similar comments about her own child, she didn’t answer the question and said that her words were “taken out of context.” Below is a link to the Web site with the interview,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/teacher-natalie-munroe-de_n_824080.html

It is highly unprofessional and unethical for the blog that she posted. If Munroe had a problem, she should have made her complaints through the proper channels and dealt with her issues some other way or should have made the blog more professional. I do think that people should be able to have freedom of speech, but these comments take it too far.

            Of course every teacher can understand the frustration of not reaching a student on the academic level or any level, and it’s not even possible to know whether or not her students really are “lazy whiners.” Isn’t that kind of a problem that the school system has always had? About not being able to motivate students in the classroom, trying to help them think critically and get them to be interested in something? From my experience, the best teachers from my high school were the ones who were passionate about their subject, were relatable to their students and were liked, and gave the student the option to do the work, to pass or fail.


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