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It seems there may be at least one "civilian" out there who knows what it is like to teach public school. Plenty of people--government officials, community members, parents, the President--think they know what schools and teachers need, but few have actually ventured into the classroom to see for themselves.
You gotta hand it to Tony Danza. Remember him in "Taxi" and "Who's the Boss?" Granted, he was doing a reality show for A & E and boosting his own career, but he actually spent one year teaching 10th grade English in a Philadelphia public high school. He apparently not only survived a grueling year of teaching and coaching, he came out of it with opened eyes and a new respect for what teachers do.
He has written about it in his new book titled "I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had," by Crown Archetype. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy to see what he actually learned and decided to share with the rest of us.
The August 24 issue of USA Weekend did a one-page article about Danza and his new book. The one thing that really stuck out for me was something I have been preaching about for years. He says,
"We have to convince kids that, despite the formidable obstacles they often face, it's imperative that they do well in school. As a society, we have to make it cool to be smart. And kids have to understand that it's their responsibility to do well--no matter who their teacher is or the quality of their school. The bottom line: Kids need to want it. We can't want them to get an education more than they want it for themselves."
Exactly! We can provide teachers with all the newest technology gizmos and programs and continue to raise standards on state testing until the cows come home, but eventually it boils down to whether or not the kid himself wants to succeed.
Thank you, Tony! You da boss!