Monday, February 28, 2011

A Teacher's Rage Against The Education Machine Sparks Controversy

The eye of the storm. (HT AP)

All it takes is one person to start a firestorm of debate. That's what Natalie Munroe (pictured above) did. The Associated Press explains how:

"Her comments and her suspension by the middle-class school district have clearly touched a nerve, with scores of online commenters applauding her for taking a tough love approach or excoriating her for verbal abuse. Media attention has rained down, and backers have started a Facebook group.

"My students are out of control," Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. "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."

And in another post, Munroe — who is more than eight months pregnant — quotes from the musical "Bye Bye Birdie": "Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs. Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS."

She also listed some comments she wished she could post on student evaluations, including: "I hear the trash company is hiring"; "I called out sick a couple of days just to avoid your son"; and "Just as bad as his sibling. Don't you know how to raise kids?"

Of course the students didn't take that lying down. Read on:

"Munroe did not use her full name or identify her students or school in the blog, which she started in August 2009 for friends and family. Last week, she said, students brought it to the attention of the school, which suspended her with pay.

"They get angry when you ask them to think or be creative," Munroe said of her students in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. "The students are not being held accountable."

Munroe pointed out that she also said positive things, but she acknowledges that she did write some things out of frustration — and of a feeling that many kids today are being given a free pass at school and at home.

"Parents are more trying to be their kids' friends and less trying to be their parent," Munroe said, also noting students' lack of patience. "They want everything right now. They want it yesterday."

One of Munroe's former students, who now attends McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., said he was torn by his former teacher's comments. Jeff Shoolbraid said that he thought much of what Munroe said was true and that she had a right to voice her opinion, but felt her comments were out of line for a teacher.

"Whatever influenced her to say what she did is evidence as to why she simply should not teach," Shoolbraid wrote in an e-mail to the AP. "I just thought it was completely inappropriate."

He continued: "As far as motivated high school students, she's completely correct. High school kids don't want to do anything. ... It's a teacher's job, however, to give students the motivation to learn."

She paid the price for calling a spade a spade, even though some agree with her. Some kids have no home training. The pioneers get all the arrows. There are many teachers who applaud her speaking out. From the Montgomery News:

"Carolynn J. McIntyre Scully, in her posting, writes, “My husband is a teacher who pours his life into the kids he teaches. He constantly brings home stories that are similar to Ms. Munroe. . The worst part of it all is that we as a country will back up the unruly, the lazy, the unmotivated, and blame it all on someone else. In the schools it is the teacher who gets the blame if the child gets a grade he does not like but deserves. It is the teacher who is expected to do all the work and find a second job to supplement their income! Ms. Munroe, you have a right and duty to speak out! Your speaking out is a kind gesture toward your students who will someday thank you!”

Ted Straub posted, “Teachers are people too, and better qualified than most parents to comment on the social condition of students. Why does it seem acceptable that a student or even a parent can mouth off to a teacher's face, including public obscenities; yet an educator can't "tell it like it is" in a relatively discrete and anonymous post? Teachers have to be trained and certified to have a role in preparing children to be adults, but any pinhead can be a parent and claim their "inalienable right" to raise a misfit. Wake up, it is NOT the teachers responsibility! Don't shoot the messenger!"

Bottom Line: The education system needs to be overhauled. Reduce the influence of Teachers Unions and School Boards and put schools back in the hands of the principals, teachers and parents. On the other side of the coin parents need to take an active more responsible role in their childrens' development and not put all the responsibility on the teachers.

Background Intel:

Associated Press: Pa. teacher strikes nerve with 'lazy whiners' blogMontgomery News: Suspended Central Bucks teacher Natalie Munroe defends herself in new blog

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