So it turns out that before Tony Danza starred in shows like ‘Taxi’ and ‘Who’s the Boss,’ he earned a degree in history education. He even dreamed about becoming a teacher, but then got into boxing and acting, and that dream went by the wayside.
Now he’s starring in a reality show called ‘Tony Danza: Teach,’ airing Fri., 10/9C on A&E. I have to say, it’s pretty compelling TV. When I first heard about it, I thought, ok, it’ll be some sort of funny take on what would happen if Danza actually became a real teacher.
The joke’s on me, because the series isn’t a “what if” scenario. The cameras follow Danza in his job as a full-time teacher at Philadelphia’s Northeast High School. He’s teaching a 10th grade English class with 26 students, and at 59 years old, he feels like he’s getting a second chance to take the road he might have taken so many years ago.
I watched an episode last night, and it’s a learning experience for Danza as much as the kids. He’s learning things like if a kid wants to go to “resource” for more one-on-one, he’s legally bound to let them go, even if he feels they could accomplish the task in a classroom setting.
It’s also a good lesson for us, the viewers, on what is or isn’t working in the education system. He’s coming into the school system with big dreams and ideas, but the teachers, educators and principals at the school are already embedded in the system. Who’s right – Danza or the established teachers? Or is the answer somewhere in the middle?
The show doesn’t seem like a publicity stunt; Danza seems to really care about the kids, and he actually broke down and cried at one point, feeling like he wasn’t up to the seemingly insurmountable task of teaching kids tagged with a “special ed” label.
Check out the show and let me know what you think. Here’s a little promo to get you started:
Image: A & E TV