Natalie Munroe’s blog didn’t meet my own personal standards for acceptable public discourse—and blogs are, of course public discourse. But case of the teacher who was fired for blogging, nastily, about her students raises an important issue: There is almost no safe place for teachers to speak honestly and publicly about the challenges they face. I’m not talking about the right to call your students “jerk offs,” the term that got her fired, according to Patrik Jonsson in the Christian Science Monitor. (Which, by the way, should be hyphenated ... teachable moment.) I am talking about the degree to which administrators and school systems make it clear that “being a team player” means staying on message, and god forbid you talk to the press or even parents about what’s happening in classrooms, what’s working and what’s not.
Not all teachers who blog are cursing about their students; there are many serious teacher blogs out there that are to Natalie Munroe’s what Charlie Rose is to Maury Povich. The ante for entry into the public conversation is huge, though: a hell of a lot of guts and unusual confidence in your job security. I am not just talking about blogging. I am talking about talking.