[This article was first published as Teacher Blogger Put on Administrative Leave on Technorati.]
Stop the bus. I want to get off. I'm just a bit queasy about the rush to make that Pennsylvania teacher the poster child for free speech after she was put on administrative leave for blogging about her public school kiddos as lazy whining ninnyhammers.
According to news reports, "In between blog posts about muffins, Food Network stars and her favorite movies, she [Natalie Munroe] posted long, profanity-peppered rants" about bosses, co-workers and her students.
Please understand that I love the First Amendment. I strongly believe in free speech and even have the track record to prove it. Some people think free speech is free, but free speech has never been and never will be free. As a high school journalism teacher and newspaper adviser, I admonish my students that free speech always comes with two price tags: (1) great responsibility and (2) consequences. If you are going to say it, you better be willing to pay the price for it.
This rush to applaud Ms. Munroe for airing what is now being called her "unapologetic take on the state of the nation's education" bothers me just a bit. Teachers get all in a dither when they discover students posting profanity and/or unflattering comments about them, so I can understand the outcry from parents and students.
Many schools have policies regarding online behavior outside of school. The Student Press Law Center which keeps track of First Amendment cases shows conflicting rulings on such cases. So far, there is not a definitive Supreme Court answer as to just how far a person can push it online.
Like it or not, teachers, like many other types of public officials, are held to a higher standard because we are supposed to exemplify and model certain behaviors for our nation's young. I don't think cussing like a road-rage driver is one of those behaviors.