REVIEW: I’d Like To Apologize To Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High

Book by Tony Danza

by Joanne Latimer

REVIEW: I'd Like To Apologize To Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast HighYou may think of him as Tony the boxer on Taxi or Tony the housekeeper on Who’s the Boss?, but after reading this book you’ll always think of him as Mr. Danza, Grade 10 English teacher. The college-educated Danza signed on to teach at Northeast High School in Philadelphia in 2009; A&E filmed the experience for a reality show called Teach. The book is Danza’s diary-like account of his experience. The reality show lasted only six episodes, but Danza finished the academic year. Readable and raw, the book confirms two things: Danza’s enduring likability and his commitment to the kids long after the cameras stopped rolling.

When the reality show is first floated past the school’s formidable principal, she has one concern. Will Danza merely play a teacher, or will he be effective? She isn’t going to jeopardize her students’ education by allowing a dilettante into her school. Danza proves the skeptics wrong. He turns out to be a big softie who cries a lot and refuses to give up on the most unreachable kids.

The book charts Danza’s journey from classroom entertainer to true teacher—someone who engages the kids with creative assignments. But the gold in this book comes via Danza’s accounts of the dismal teaching conditions. Without sounding strident, he takes to task a government that underfunds education, and a school board obsessed with standardized tests. Yes, we’ve heard it all before, but not from such a heartfelt advocate with the ear of the American public. Anyone quick to sneer at Danza’s efforts without reading the book is, as he’d say, “a schmo.”

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REVIEW: I’d Like To Apologize To Every Teacher I Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High

  1. I am pleased that Tony Danza completed the academic year and has followed up with a book so we can all read about his trials, tribulations, and triumphs in the classroom. As a former teacher, I look forward to reading it.

    I will especially anticipate Mr. Danza’s insights and arguments about government underfunding and obsession with standardized testing. His discussion of such factors contributed to the reviewer’s assessment that the “gold in this book comes via Danza’s accounts of the dismal teaching conditions.” I do find it distressing, however, that the reviewer goes on to say “Yes, we’ve heard it all before, but not from such a heartfelt advocate with the ear of the American public.”

    When I think of all the professional educators through the almost thirty years of my own career who spoke out with “heartfelt” advocacy about “dismal teaching conditions”, I am saddened that a celebrity, for all his obviously sincere commitment, would seem to have better access to the “ear of the American public”. After all, it’s not as though students have never come home without a text for their course because the dwindling budgets of their schools could not provide sufficient numbers of the books they required. Nor is it likely that students have never come home with complaints about the large class sizes they put up with every day. One would think these are just two examples of the kind of issues students may have brought home to their parents and guardians. We don’t even have to hear the voices of the stressed educators in our public schools (or read Mr. Danza’s book) to have figured out that something has been seriously wrong for a very long time.

    I do thank Tony Danza wholeheartedly for his year in the classroom. I hope his book will be a bestseller. And I’m sure teachers past and present will get a special charge from his title!

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