Think before you post

Mark-Sherman SQUARE“A New York City teacher who ranted about her students on Facebook should not have been fired. That’s the finding of a state appellate panel, which upheld a lower court ruling that Christine Rubino was entitled to keep her job…In her comments, the P.S. 203 teacher called her fifth graders ‘devil’s spawn’ and said she ‘hated their guts.’”
— AP story, May 9, 2013

I first heard this story on the radio a few days ago, and I remember thinking, okay, I suppose her rant may not have been the world’s greatest career move, but, no, it probably didn’t warrant her firing. On the other hand, suppose one of my children was in her class. Do you really want your child in a class where his or her teacher admits, on Facebook no less, that, by implication, she hates your child’s guts?

However, imagining myself as a parent of one of Ms. Rubino’s students, I probably would be thinking that it wasn’t my child’s guts she hated, since my child would certainly be one of the good ones.


In fact, I can imagine a conversation two parents might have had, following the firing of this ranting teacher.

Parent 1: I’m sorry I never pulled Ephraim out of that class. How could I have left my son in a classroom where the teacher ultimately said she hated the kids’ guts?

Parent 2: Well, I don’t know about Ephraim, but I’m sure she didn’t mean Lotinda in what she said. Lotinda said that Ms. Rubino loved her. She said a lot of the other kids really were difficult, but my little Lotey was doing so well.

Parent 1: Well, good for you and your precious little girl. Maybe she’s not “the devil’s spawn.” It must feel good to have such a perfect child. I guess if that class were filled with Lotindas, Rubino would have said, “I love my fifth grade class. They are little angels.”

Parent 2: Well, you don’t have to get all huffy about it. And you do remember that Ephraim was getting in trouble a lot. Lotey told me that one day he and that kid Kyler released a mouse into the class.

Parent 1: Yeah, but at least they had trapped it with a Have-a-Heart trap. To be honest, I thought it was funny that they released it in the classroom. There was no reason Rubino had to step on the poor little thing.

Actually, what the teacher wrote that got her fired was worse than what that little AP story said. She made her remarks nearly three years ago, the day after the drowning death of a 12-year-old girl on a field trip to a beach. She wrote, “After today, I am thinking that the beach sounds like a great place for my 5th graders. I HATE THEIR GUTS.”

I mean, yes, I know that teaching is very hard work, and I do have sincere admiration for those who do it. And fifth grade? Hmm, that means the kids are around 10, when many of the girls are starting to hit adolescence and the boys are, well, 10-year-old boys. But still, saying, as she did in that same post, that she had one student to whom she wouldn’t even throw a life preserver, is going a bit too far, even in a Facebook rant.

Of course, throughout history elementary school teachers have probably been ranting about their students. The difference today is that there is Facebook. It’s just so easy to put something on Facebook and forget the fact that you have now made it public. It’s like e-mail, only worse. Once upon a time, Christine Rubino would have been sitting around having a beer — or ten beers — with one or two of her fellow teachers, talking about how the kids in her class were driving her crazy, and she could have made remarks as bad as the ones she did make, or worse. And her fellow teachers would have chimed in that they knew how she felt.

And that would have been the end of it. Unless Rubino had a complete breakdown in class — which did occur with a couple of my teachers — there would be no reason for her to get into trouble. If we got rid of every teacher who ever said that she or he couldn’t stand their students, the country would be left with approximately 37 teachers. And you could be sure that all those teachers would be on heavy doses of antidepressants.

On the other hand, now that Ms. Rubino has been reinstated, would you really want your son or daughter in her class? And will she really want to be teaching? If you know kids, then you know that as soon as word gets around that their teacher is the one who got fired for her rant, they’ll do everything they can to make her crazy.

Because kids are like that. They are the devil’s spawn.