Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nana Gets Some Heat

I have written about my experiences substituting in my local schools. I never include personally identifiable information. This past week I have received several anonymous comments from "parents." One of these parents complained to the superintendent and to the local police about my post last Wednesday. In an email to the superintendent, copied to me, the parent complained that I used profanity and wrote about personal issues about the students.

I thought that one of the perks of being retired was that I could speak my mind.  I don't represent the school district.  When you work for a public agency, and I know that many of my readers do, it is difficult to be viewed as a private citizen.  For the past twenty years I resisted writing letters to the editor of our local paper.  I didn't speak out on immigration reform, or abortion, or even publicly voice my support for candidates.  I know I had the right to exercise my first amendment rights, but in a small town it was easier to stay silent.  I sometimes felt like the lone ranger.  I am a liberal and that's almost a dirty word in the conservative region where I live.

Today I received yet another email from anonymous complaining that her child was reading my blog. It was the WTF: Wednesday post about the dollar bill. You can read it here. That was the post that got all the nasty comments from a student stalker. Read about that here.

Here's the latest email:

I understand you are one of my daughter's sub teachers. As a teacher myself, I am mortified that I came into my room, where our computer is, to find my daughter reading your blog. I don't know who you think you are, but as a "role model", retired or not, this is completely inapproiate for ANY child to see, let alone thinking it's ok, and funny to act like this. Shame on you!! I will be calling the school concerning your blog.

The superintendent is going to get tired of receiving complaints.

In the blogosphere I have found other like minded writers.  I've also found readers who don't share my views, but are accepting of differences and open to rational discussion.

The superintendent is going to get tired of receiving complaints.

So to those anonymous readers out there...get a grip!  I am not encouraging your children to read my blog.  To find my blog, you only have to google me.  It's probably the first link that shows up. 

Yes, I occasionally use profanity on my blog. What I write and say in my personal life has no relationship to my occasional work in local school districts. To find my blog on the Internet you have to actually search for it. Children who are using the Internet unsupervised are not my responsibility...based on the language I've heard them use in school, they have heard these words before, but the bottom line is that I don't seek underage readers. They would not be interested in the topic of the life of a recently retired person!

Like most writers, I write about my life experiences.  I never considered identifying the students who shared, without being asked, their experience with self-mutilation. I never intended to reveal personally identifiable information about any of them, and I have not done so. Public employees are entitled to a personal life and my blog reflects my personal life, the events and experiences that I find interesting. I do not give up the right to express a personal opinion on a public forum just because I occasionally work for a public agency.

Should teachers only be writing happy stories of children collecting canned goods for the poor or creating amazing science projects? Yeah, that stuff happens, but it ain't all sweetness and light. Remember my post about the student who was stalking my blog? Read it here and that post has the most profanity that has ever been in my blog and it's the student's comments!

Well dear readers...tell me where I should go from here? 


  1. Wow! You have become a controversial person because people in the community think an education professional should not have opinions they express in a blog. It would make an interesting article for publication.

    Keep us posted on what the superintendent thinks about the complaints.

  2. I love anonymous complainers. They don't have the personal wherewithal to identify themselves but they'll happily and loudly pillory somebody else.
    I don't know where people get the idea that kids are delicate little flowers who need to be protected from reality. If they're old enough and skilled enough to find you, they're certainly finding a lot more "dangerous" stuff on the internet.
    In the old days, teachers were hardly allowed out after dark for fear they would be seen as immoral and unworthy of teaching the precious little darlings. It seems that in some minds, not much has changed.

  3. I had never heard about that form of self mutilation until I read about it on your blog. And nobody was identified, but instead of concentrating on the meaning of children needing to hurt themselves, they turned on YOU! This makes no sense to me. Keep up the good work, Nana. And if push comes to shove, you have the upper hand here.

  4. Isn't it sad how badly some people need to 'get a life'of their own ... ? I, for one, think your blog is just great.

  5. I believe the real problem in that letter to you is twofold:
    1. They're too chicken to even tell you who they are and
    2. If they think your blog is so awful perhaps being a better parent and monitoring what their kid does would go a lot further than blaming someone else for how they screwed up raising their child.
    But I can't even get started on that topic or I'm going to spin out of control.

    This is a free country. You should be free to write and talk about anything you like. You didn't use names, you didn't provide faces, you didn't tell people where to find these kids. You are representing yourself and I fully support your blog and sharing of important information like this potentially damaging disorder to clued us all into.

  6. oy, I'm so irritated that I can't even format a legible sentence haha

    "that you clued us all into"

    That's more like it.

  7. Here we have an example of kill the messenger, forget about the message.

    Aren't you glad you don't have to put up with these parents anymore in parent called conferences because you had the nerve to point out that their precious darling was engaging in behavior that was not appropriate or could be harmful?

    As far as I'm concerned, you have not in any way violated any privacy rules. Blog on.

  8. Oh my!
    You don't need any of this. Why don't you go and change your profile so your real name is not used. These folks won't stop persecuting you otherwise.

  9. Just so you know, we're miles apart politically. But I will defend your right to make your views known.
    That said, I came across this and thought it worth your time.

  10. I would be very sad if you decided to change your blogging voice because of cranky people who would rather stir a pot than take a look at their own stuff. I love your blog, and admire your tell-it-like-it-is style.

    It will be interesting to see what the superintendent does - if anything.

  11. Perhaps the complaining parents need to check their children for signs of this particular self mutilation. If they are so short sighted as to complain when a substitute teacher takes an interest in a child's well being they are in total denial
    as to the seriousness of the problem. Your blog is a reflection of life at your age. It may be the best read these kids have all year.

  12. I love your blog! I too am a retired educator and absolutely love your spunk. Please don't give into "The Parents" You tell it like it is.

  13. Oh, for goodness sake, this is ridiculous - I despair for the poor kids being raised by these bigoted, small-minded and petty individuals - with all that is wrong in the world, this is the best they can find to complain about?? Little wonder they prefer to remain anonymous, it's nothing short of cyber-bullying - and over what? If they object so strongly to their children being exposed to your reasoned, balanced, and informative views, perhaps they might focus their energy better by (God forbid) supervising and monitoring what they ALLOW their children any access to. I truly hope you don't take these haters on board - you are SO above that, unlike you, these sad people obviously have no life at all.

    (Darn, I think they've just hexed me - Google is refusing to post me up as Shrinky (Shrink wrapped Scream), and is posting ME up as anonymous - eeeek!!)


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