Teacher's blog an invasion of privacy

The Bucks educator, now suspended, saw herself as a martyr. She should have kept her anger to herself.

Natalie Munroe, suspended by Central Bucks High School East, affirmed in her blog last weekend: "I stand by what I wrote."

Somebody quickly tell Natalie Munroe that she is no Michelle Rhee.

Rhee served as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, and her credentials and work in support of students are beyond reproach.

Munroe is a suspended English teacher from Bucks County whose own grammar and spelling left something to be desired as she trashed her students in a profanity-filled blog.

After the blog began circulating among students and administrators last week, Munroe was suspended from Central Bucks High School East in Doylestown on Feb. 9. Administrators were determining if the posts had been crafted on district time or equipment.

In the meantime, Munroe fashions herself as some kind of martyr for education reform.

"I stand by what I wrote and think it's good that people are aware now," she wrote in a blog post last weekend, which she compiled several days after being escorted from the corridors of C.B. East.

"There are serious problems with our education system today - with the way that schools and school districts and students and parents take teachers who enter the education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villanize [sic] them and blame them for everything - and those need to be brought to light. If this 'scandal' opens the door for that conversation, so be it.

"Let that conversation begin. Stay tuned here."

Cue the reality show.

Her online rants conjured up a vision of a worn-down educator, a bit out of touch and weary after decades of trying to reach minds from which she was increasingly distant. She lamented that, while filling out report cards, "as the kids get worse and worse, I find that the canned comments don't accurately express my true sentiments about them."

Surprise, surprise. She is only 30 years old, currently with child, and has been teaching in the school district since 2006. So her comments are not defensible by career fatigue or some generational divide. And when confronted, she immaturely blames others for her problems:

"I really think that somebody dug it up on purpose to raise trouble. And now it has," she told the Bucks County Courier Times this week.

How sophomoric. (Look it up.)

Resist the temptation to view this as a case of comeuppance for privileged youths. Instead, this suburban drama is a case of invasion of privacy and one professional's failure to think before hitting the send key. Teachers need to be role models for their students, and in 2011 that includes leading the way on the perils of publishing one's thoughts online.

Surely, the student she wrote about on Oct. 27, 2009, knows who he is:

"So this kid earned a 54% on the test, having lost 2 points for not following directions, 7.5 points for being unable to match the names of charactes [sic] and settings with the story names (which is the easiest section on the whole test if you've simply read the stories for lan's sake!), another 10 or so on another section asking him to match definitions to terms . . . really, the kid just didn't study enough."

Note also that her commentary took place, at least in part, on taxpayer time. A posting dated Jan. 21, 2010, said: "I'm being a renegade right now, living on the edge and, um, blogging AT work." She then revealed that because her computer at work had frozen, she had continued on her kitchen table. How charitable toward the taxpayers of Central Bucks.

And worst of all is the poor judgment epitomized by her posting on "comments I'd like to see added to the canned comment list, as an accurate reflection of what we really want to say to these parents," including:

"Lazy a-."

"Sneaky, complaining, jerkoff."

"Rude, beligerent [sic], argumentative f-."

"There's no other way to say this: I hate your kid."

Resist the temptation to cheer from the sidelines. While there are indeed coddled youths among us, those are the sort of comments some might wish to see heaped on another person's child, but surely not our own.

Munroe is obviously ill-equipped for the classroom. Here's hoping she doesn't return.


Contact Michael Smerconish via www.smerconish.com. Read all of his columns at www.philly.com/smerconish