I’m sure nearly every K-12 teacher in the country knows about Natalie Munroe, her blog and subsequent firing.
When I read the newspaper article, taking in her sentiments on today’s students, I thought, “Hey, I’ve heard the same in the teacher’s lounge — Far too many times!”
Only those opinions on students and parents (and administrators) uttered during lunch and prep period seldom go beyond four walls.
What Munroe wrote about her lazy, unmotivated whiners is tame compared to what I’ve heard in the K-12 public schools in which I work. “Lazy whiners” is nothing compared to “ghetto tramps”, “trailer whores”, “rednecks”, “gangbangers”, “mother hoes”, “white trash of white trash”, “bottom feeders”, and far worse than I dare repeat. And these unfortunate labels know no color line; such are uttered by both Black and White teachers about their Black and White students. Because I work in a district whose student population is predominately poor (Black, White, and Latino), maybe those middle class faculty members find it easy to vent — in private — their frustrations trying to reach poor, uncultured, unmotivated, crime-prone children.
“We can’t save them all,” I recall one teacher saying, and that attitude unfortunately goes right to the upper administration. Even the average inner-city taxpayer grows restive in wake of poor test scores, high dropout rates, and less that 50% graduation rates. They’re chomping at the bit, waiting for the state to take over what is a failing, dying school district.
But I’m digressing a bit. Natalie Munroe’s observations on her students, compared to situations when she was in high school, only drives home what I’ve believed all along: Public officials and education “experts” are putting the blame on the wrong parties. When Munroe and I were high school students, the burden of responsibility was on us. no the teacher, not Mommy or Daddy. Missing an assignment? How about several? Didn’t get the “A” you wanted on that essay because of all the blatant grammatical errors and misspelled words? Got less that 65% on the math test? Hey, don’t blame the teacher! We blamed ourselves for poor study habits and just plain laziness. When I was in high school, any paper — book report, short composition, or ten-page research paper — that had more than three gross errors (misspelled words, subject/verb, fragments, run-ons, dangling modifiers, etc.) earned an automatic “F”. The teacher didn’t take in account the many hours research, how well organized the thoughts. Hey, it’s unreadable; it deserved a failing grade. No one but the student is to blame. The kid dared not to run to mommy, saying the teacher is a big bad bully who hates kids. I tried it; it didn’t work. All I got the first time I earned less than perfect marks that freshman year was, “You better get busy!”
Maybe Munroe’s students, and all K-12 students across the country — and their families — need to get busy. Public school woes don’t wholly rest on teachers’ shoulders, and I wish the politicos and high-level administrators get busy and lay off teachers’ backs. After all, unlike our medical and legal counterparts, we didn’t learn how to teach from masters of the field. Try education professors who’ve never set foot in a public K-12 classroom let alone earn a license to teach. Ask that guy who taught general methods who was long-term sub teacher for a high school class. He didn’t last two weeks into the fall semester.