'This Week' Transcript: Crisis in the Classroom

The district, the union, the education stakeholders have to work together to empower teachers. This should be a piece of how teachers are evaluated, just a piece. We have to look at multiple measures. But every teacher wants to get better. Why does it take a newspaper to give them what they desperately want?

Let me tell you: In California, there are 300,000 teachers, 300,000. The top 10 percent, the top 30,000, would be amongst the best teachers in the world. The bottom 10 percent, the bottom 30,000, you know, there are some real challenges there.

No one -- no one in California can tell you who's in the top 10 percent and who's in the bottom 10 percent. Something's wrong with that picture.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to Michelle Rhee, because she's had to deal with this directly in her own school district. Michelle Rhee, you, you know, have caused quite a lot of controversy, you've got a lot of supporters and a lot of detractors over what you're doing here in Washington, D.C.

I'm just going to put up the picture of the Time Magazine cover when you came in, you with a great, big broomstick, basically signifying that you're going to sweep out the deadwood, so to speak. You got a certain amount of money in the administration's education stimulus fund. How did you do it? How did you get rid of something like 241 teachers and get the unions on board?

RHEE: Well, we certainly sat at the table with the unions to craft a contract that we thought was going to be good for kids and fair to teachers. We completely revamped our teacher evaluation model so that it was more aligned with how students were actually performing, so in our new model, 50 percent of the teacher's evaluation is based on how much they're progressing their students, in terms of academic achievement levels, 40 percent is based on observations of classroom practice, another 5 percent based on how their school is doing overall, and then the final 5 percent based on their contributions to school community.

So based on what Secretary Duncan just said, we're looking at multiple measures. And based on that, we can identify our highest-performing teachers and our lowest-performing teachers.

AMANPOUR: Let me just quickly ask you, because the figures from 2007 to 2009 showed a significant achievement in closing the achievement gap, but the latest amount -- the latest figures that have come out show that that's stalling. How do you -- how do you fit that into your plan?

RHEE: Well, I think what it shows is that it's just incredibly difficult. I think for decades now we have been trying to figure out as a public education system, how do we close the achievement gap? How do we make sure that race and socioeconomic status are no longer the determining factors of a child's educational achievement levels? And we've made tremendous progress over the last three years under our mayor, Mayor Fenty, who controls the schools here in Washington, D.C.

But it's not a one-shot, silver-bullet solution. It's going to take a lot of time to get to the point where we can say that we've closed the gap.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, Randi. And I've sort of commissioned a prop. I mean, it's the teachers union contract with the city of New York, and it's very, very, very thick. And it reads that it's very difficult to actually get rid of teachers who are not performing.

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