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Free Speech in Action – How One Teacher’s Blog May Get Her Fired

Kathryn Thompson

It’s possible that your kids are whiners or losers but do you really want their teacher ripping them to shreds on her blog? 

Last week I blogged about a teacher who was fired for posting a picture of herself drinking alcohol on Facebook.  The story seemed pretty ridiculous.  She was an adult, drinking on her own time and posting a picture of it on a site where her students don’t have access.  Her private life didn’t involve her work as a teacher.

But the big story this week is about a teacher who was suspended for keeping a blog where the subject matter was directly related to her job.  She was describing her students and it wasn’t flattering.

“My students are out of control," Pennsylvania high school teacher Natalie Munroe wrote, "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 that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  She also criticized other teachers, administrators, and the parents of her students.  The blog is no longer live on the internet but news stories say she didn’t use her full name or the names of any of her students or the school she worked for when she was posting to the site that she says was just meant for family and friends.

Whenever a new blogger asks me for advice, there’s one thing I tell them, “The internet is forever and you have to assume that anything you write about anyone will at some time be read by them.”  I can’t tell you how many times a friend with an “anonymous” blog has been outed by the very person they were trying to hide from… on the world wide web.

I’m sure every teacher vents about her students from time to time but when you vent in a forum as public as a blog, even a “private” blog, your words can come back to bite you and they likely will.  We all have a right to free speech but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for using it.

At this point Munroe is on suspension and fighting for her job but she stands behind much of what she wrote.  She thinks kids need to work harder and that they’re being spoiled. 

Personally I think that whether what she wrote is true or not, it was unprofessional to write about it the way she did.  If she wants to help change the attitudes and work ethics of her students, there are more productive ways to go about it.

What do you think?  Should teachers be allowed to blow off steam about their jobs publicly? 

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler, and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, DaringYoungMom.com and occasionally the gym.

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