Monday, May 9, 2011

Too Much Information

A few posts ago we were talking about the use and/or abuse of the First Amendment Rights in a post called Pardon Me, Sir, You are Stepping on My Rights.   In that post we had the jerk that felt the need to yell F*** you to the  police officer along with a particular finger gesture to reinforce his message.  One ticket, one lawsuit and a $4000.00 settlement later,we have established it was his right to say and do what he felt like doing. 
That particular case doesn't seem to have any negative repercussion for the person using the right to free speech but in other instances there have been some negative consequences.  Not legal ramifications but personal ramifications.


Within the span of the last several months there have been a number of stories involving school teachers that have lost their jobs or have pending investigations to determine penalties due to making comments on blogs or social media sites.  Who knew that Facebook and blogs could be so hazardous?

There are always going to be people that share "too much information".  The Internet is just one of the newer ways for people to get themselves into trouble.  Who among us hasn't at some time or other said something that would or should have been left unsaid?  The problem now becomes that it isn't necessarily said to just one buddy over coffee, but the thousands that will pick it up off of a Facebook page or blog.

Take for instance the Pennsylvania teacher that was suspended for comments that she posted on her personal blog.  Natalie Munroe posted to a personal blog not using her own last name or any of her students names.  This is a portion of one  of her posts.

My students are out of control,....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."

Natalie Munroe, during a recent phone
interview.
  Is this too much information? The school certainly thought so when she was suspended.  She is currently fighting to keep her job.

Did she cross a line?  Is that over-sharing?  Is the fact that she is a teacher requiring her to be more discreet than other types of employees?

What if you read a blog that I might have written when I managed a St. Louis bank in the 1980's and posted some of the more laughable albeit private banking practices of some customers.  Oh what the heck, they can't fire me now.  Let's say I wrote about a respected lawyer that wrote a check to a company called We Cum Calling for $200.00 and on the memo line it says hooker.  HHMM

Sidebar:  Just to point out the obvious, but why would you have to put hooker on the memo line.  Wouldn't you remember hiring a hooker?  If you couldn't remember it because it was so non-memorable you wasted $200 bucks.  Therefore wouldn't you want to forget the whole thing?

Back to the point of the story here...Another teacher from  a Massachusetts high school, June Talvitie-Siple was fired for making comments on Facebook.  June believed that just her circle of friends could see her posts.  She referred to her students as "germ bags" and referred to her students parents as snobby and arrogant.  According to the article Siple lost a job that was earning her $92,000.00 per year. 

One of the parents that was interviewed said he felt like the firing was fair. 

"I think that's pretty ungrateful, taking that much of the town budget going into the schools, filling up the position, teaching kids when her heart wasn't in to it," said resident Sam Green. (let it be said that if having your "heart into it" is a requirement for continued employment, of lot of people out there are about to be unemployed.)

Another said:

"It's horrid. Who says that about children you are teaching, children you are raising that you are a role model for?" said parent Susan Wilcox  (Susan need to relax a bit...horrid?? really?)


OK, let's move on to another example.  Perhaps this is one that is over the line.   A part time journalism professor at  Boston University, Michael Gee was fired after he posted some comments in a blog. (these blogs can really get you into trouble)  Gee wrote that one of the female students was incredibly HOT.  He went on to say that he might have trouble remembering the other 5 women in the class.   Well, now we might be getting closer to the "too much said" threshold.

Yet another teacher was fired for a bumper sticker she had on her Prius.  (Yo..you teachers really have to watch your step).  Tarah Ausburn got fired from a private prep school in Surprise, AZ for having a bumper sticker on her car that read "Have you drugged your kid today?"  Ausburn's intent was to show criticism for the  tendency to over-medicate hyperactive children today.  After some parents complained, Ausburn was asked to remove the sticker. She refused as she believes it is within her First Amendment rights. (along with the other 61 bumper stickers that are on her Prius).  She is fighting for her job back but the  fact that this is a private school makes it difficult. 


Last example:  A Chicago area teacher is being assessed for possible disiplinary action by her school and sued by the student's mother after posting a picture of the little girl's hair do on Facebook.   For picture day the little girl had Jolley Rancher candies tied to the end of her braids.  The teacher mocked the hair do on Facebook and had friends also make negative comments. One such comment for example said “If you’re going to make your child look ridiculous, the least you can do is have them matching.” The mother feels like this is a form of bullying. The school maintains that up to this point, the teacher has been an excellent educator and they feel the teacher should not be fired. 

I am going to close this post down for today but later in the week, I will be talking about other inherent problems to posting things on the Internet.  I may need bail money at some point and want to give you a heads up. 

What are your thoughts about the few instances we talked about today???  Should people lose their jobs for stating their opinions to things like Facebook?  Does it matter if they stay anonymous as the first blogger did?  Does it matter that none of the teachers used specific students names? 



The Good for the Day...Again, we have the right to say what we want

The Bad for the Day....Sometimes people say to much...way to much...and there can be repercussions.


The Weird for the day....Who would of thought that Facebook would be such a troublemaker.





I originally spotted this on a really clever blog called injaynesworld  Be sure to visit it sometime.

12 comments:

Brandon said...

Yes indeed, we should fire anybody that has the nerve to complain about their job. Because nobody ever does that...

Unless those teachers were previously warned, or signed some sort of internet posting policy...I'd have a hard time saying they should be fired on the first offense. Especially the teacher that posted anonymously and did not use specific names. The Naughty Professor probably deserved to be fired though.

Cheryl said...

Funny... by that standard I should have been fired from every job I ever had. Because I am continually griping about my current gig, they need to fire me daily.

I agree with you though.Some of those while maybe not the most professional actions or even well thought out, warrant a slap on the wrist. (I also agree that maybe the Naughty Professor is the exception as he just sounds like a dirty dog...sorry to the real canines out there)

All the teachers were described in the articles I read as having no problems in the past and by all accounts devoted, good teachers.

The one that might have pushed the line the most by posting an unauthorized picture, did keep her job. That is why the mother has chosen to sue the school and the teacher.

Teaching It Real said...

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The response from readers all over the world has been astonishing. Actually debuting during the February heat of the Natalie Munroe business, this unique online journal shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse by a rookie special education teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way than Mrs. Munroe. Sure, there are some intense student-teacher moments, even some choice words, too, but mostly it’s world-class hilarious and heartwarming … like reading a good book.

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Jayne said...

That video is hysterical (and so true)!! Cheryl - a very thought provoking post here. Mmmm... I must, as a writer, of course always defend freedom of speech. However, lets use a little common sense people! Sure say what you will, but be prepared to suffer certain consequences.
But depending on how egregious the comments were, I don't think firing without warning is necessarily appropriate.
That said, teachers writing derogatory comments about students is just plain dumb. I wouldn't want my children in their classroom. Imagine the attitude they enter school with every day?! Just a bit hostile?
Any teachers that publicly rant about their students is not a "good" or "devoted" teacher. No, this is an insensitive, immature, unprofessional, and very naive teacher. And the school's probably better off without them.
If you want to vent, talk to your friends. Privately! Sheesh. When it's in writing, baby, the whole world can see it--no matter where you post. (And it's not so difficult for anonymous bloggers to found out.)
Use your head! I think that even the Three Stooges would have gotten this. Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck. ;)

Annie (Lady M) x said...

What a bloody brilliant post. It has really got me thinking ... and I don't know the answer so I will have to go thinking some more....! Nice one Kara ;-)

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Fuck, I just called you Kara when I know damn well you are called Cheryl. My only excuse is jetlag - bad jetlag!

Cheryl said...

Teaching It Real, thanks for stopping by. I will check out your blog also.

meleah rebeccah said...

I do NOT think that teacher said anything out of line or that should have warranted her suspension. She didn't name names. She was venting.

However, this opinion comes from someone [namely ME] who is PRO sharing 'Too Much Information"!

Cheryl said...

Hi Jayne, A couple of them like the posting the picture and the sexual nature of the Professor really crossed a line.

The teacher that made the comments about the students and parents on Facebook shows a real lack of good judgement. Facebook is so viral in the sense, your friends, their friends, their friend's friends all can get to your comments.

I am a bit conflicted about the Natalie Munroe case only because her blog is one that you have to sign in on to even read.(obviously the rumor mill took over) You are right though, it is never a good idea to write something negative about your students. Very unprofessional. Still, I am just not sure if firing for a first offense is the correct punishment.

The bumper sticker one really has me on the fence. Her stance is to try more holistic approaches to hyperactivity and that bumper sticker is about not over medicating students. Still she had the opportunity to remove it. I don't know!!! Part of me appreciates someone that takes a stand. (in this case she felt it was within her rights to put anything she wants on her car. See what I mean! I am soooo conflicted.

Ultimately, everyone needs to realize that you have to use descretion when putting ANYTHING on the Internet. You do make great points about not putting things out there ESPECIALLY IF IT RELATES TO YOUR JOB.

Cheryl said...

Hi Anne, Did you make it home? Hope you had a nice trip. Your friends Clare seems like great fun.

I am waffleing back and forth on a couple of this. Not so much about the Professor saying he was focused on one girl because she was hot and posting a picture of a little girl feels a little creepy to me. BUT some of the others seem to be a case of bad judgement...I don't know if losing your job is the answer. I tend to try to give people a chance to make ammends. I would definately feel stronger about these if actual names of students or faculty had been used.

Cheryl said...

Hi Meleah Rebeccah,

But when you over share it is really funny...so you get a pass.

The teacher that had the private blog, didn't use names..firing seems harsh. She was on the Today show and, frankly she had me leaning to her point of view. I am so easily led on some things.

Such a grey area about discussing your job on the Internet though.

Cheryl said...

Hi Jayne, A couple of them like the posting the picture and the sexual nature of the Professor really crossed a line.

The teacher that made the comments about the students and parents on Facebook shows a real lack of good judgement. Facebook is so viral in the sense, your friends, their friends, their friend's friends all can get to your comments.

I am a bit conflicted about the Natalie Munroe case only because her blog is one that you have to sign in on to even read.(obviously the rumor mill took over) You are right though, it is never a good idea to write something negative about your students. Very unprofessional. Still, I am just not sure if firing for a first offense is the correct punishment.

The bumper sticker one really has me on the fence. Her stance is to try more holistic approaches to hyperactivity and that bumper sticker is about not over medicating students. Still she had the opportunity to remove it. I don't know!!! Part of me appreciates someone that takes a stand. (in this case she felt it was within her rights to put anything she wants on her car. See what I mean! I am soooo conflicted.

Ultimately, everyone needs to realize that you have to use descretion when putting ANYTHING on the Internet. You do make great points about not putting things out there ESPECIALLY IF IT RELATES TO YOUR JOB.