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Tony Danza Is Trying to Destroy Schools with Reality TV

Tony_Danza Hey kids. Do you know how teachers learn to teach? They go to school, just like you.  They plough through the system and get an Education degree from a university, or at least some kind of certificate from somewhere.  It's a reasonably long and arduous process that, with any luck, will produce teachers who aren't total yahoos.  There are good teachers and lousy teachers out there, but whatever your opinion on the subject may be, teaching is not just about showing up in the morning with a smile on your face and a dream in your heart.

Unless you're Tony Danza, in which case you can flash some money and a camera crew at a school district.  And Hey Presto! you're a teacher.

Relax. It hasn't happened yet.  Danza is currently in talks with the Philadelphia School District to co-teach at Northeast High School.  If approved, Danza will co-teach a grade 10 English class.  The resulting stew of "responsible television" will air on A&E.  No airdate has been set.

The name of the show? "Teach".

On August 19th, the school district, which has 167,000 students, will vote on the resolution to allow Tony Danza inside their students' minds for thirteen episodes.

Not surprisingly, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter supports the Danzafication of the school system, claiming that the show would put a positive spin on Philadelphia schools, increase teacher recruitment and possibly lead to "production internships" for students (Note to Mayor: get that in writing).

The school district will get a whopping $3,500 per episode.  I bet Mariska Hargitay wishes she could make that kind of dough. Never mind, she makes $400,000 per episode of SUV.

I wish the teachers of North East High School good luck as Tony Danza works hard to reduce education to a subset of entertainment.  Let's call it edutainment.

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This is insane. I hope that school votes no, but they won't because everyone wants to be ON TV, OMG!!1! Plus, TD is probably grasping at income straws. I can't recall him doing anything major since Who's The Boss...


I agree to the last post, everyone wants to be on tv and that should not take precedence toward doing what is best for our kids!!!


If they could make this a hidden camera show so the kids act like they really would, and then not gloss over the hard parts, and show Tony Danza working at home until 10 PM grading and stuff (cuz he'll do that, right? Cuz this is reality, right?), then yeah, I say go for it. That might help the public perception of what teachers really do all day.


That picture is just so horrifying.


I'm for it. There's a really good chance that one hour of Tony Danza (and America) in the classroom of a select few kids' days will not completely destroy any lives, but it could change some for the better. For some it will mean a lot of positive exposure. If it means negative exposure for a kid... well that, I believe, is in the control of the kid.

Also, I'm willing to bet they go over the fact that it takes years and years of study to become a real teacher. Tony sounds like he'd be doing what a lot of university students do before they can get their degrees. Let the man have his show, and if the community votes yes, don't judge them for it.


There are undoubtedly some positive aspects, and some of the kids will have a memorable time. But there are larger issues at work here, which are kind of beyond the scope of a pop culture column but which I will try to summarize here all quick-like:

1. Having worked for some years with a camera crew, I can attest to the fact that even a minimal setup can make for a distracting environment. I'm not even talking about the shooting time, but the basic disruption involved in moving film infrastructure into a highly ordered space. Not a huge quibble, but it's there.

2. Danza is going to feed the perception that teaching is simply something you do with your gut and your heart. It is, but it's also a profession that deserves respect. Imagine if Tony Danza wanted to perform surgery for a TV season, or fly a passenger jet. I know that there will be scenes of him going "Oh my god, I never teaching was such hard work," but that's not the payoff with shows like these. The payoff is about the triumph of an outsider who came in and made good and won some hearts and minds. And that is what you take away.

3. School funding is a problem in school districts in the US, and splashy stuff like getting forty grand from a reality show does not address the problem. It's a lump of unsustainable cash that will result in some new textbooks. And then nothing. The world doesn't get better through the fitful and sentimental generosity of celebrities and their projects. It gets better through institutional change.

And I'm not judging the community. They can do what they like. I'm judging Tony Danza and the show producers.

hall monitor

This story made http://detentionslip.org ! Check it out for all the crazy headlines from our schools.


I must admit, I mocked at first, but it turns out that Tony Danza has a degree in history education! So much for my snarkitude. It turns out that he may just be a decent teacher, and can tell the different between You and Youse.


I understand from my sources that he has a degree in history, not history education. If the show goes to air I'll definitely take a look.


You soooo hit the target here. If only people could really see what good teachers do all day. And of course, Danza is going to dip into his own pockets to buy supplies for his classroom and students and bulletin boards and fundraisers and copies when the xerox machine is down and on and on and on...right? He'll do that?


What you say is convincing--I suspect this will do nothing for the appalling absence of respect given to teachers. Or the disinterest in the well-being of students. Just the words 'institutional change' makes me bitter. It's so desperately needed it but this country is so dysfunctional I doubt it will happen. Truly good education is for the wealthy in Philadelphia as it is everywhere else in the U.S., I'm sure.

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