You'd think, after the furor that surrounded teacher Natalie Munroe's blog-related firing, that those in the pedagogical professions might give social networking a wide birth. Not so Catholic school teacher Elizabeth Cucinotta, who, with her cousin launched what she terms "Facebook for Angry People." The site, "Burn and Rot in Hell," allows users to rant about everything from exes to bosses. And, perhaps unfortunately for Cucinotta, there's a section devoted to "students" and one for "teachers." It's hard to know whether the school, Queens' St. Francis Prep, would have objected so strenuously had the creators omitted these categories. Or, for that matter, if Cucinotta had been less defiant.
As it is, Cucinotta refuses to amend or remove the site, and is sticking to her story: a priest said it was okay.
The case — the second in recent months in which a teacher got in trouble for extracurricular social networking — is, to say the least, cautionary. Most educators don't need to be told to keep a low online profile; they work with kids all day. But should a teacher's freedoms be curtailed to this extent? Probably the answer is: if it effects your classroom dynamic. The truth is, teachers are held to a higher standard. And even in a Catholic school, telling a priest probably doesn't qualify as adequate permission.