'This Week' Transcript: Crisis in the Classroom

We've checked. Something like seven teachers were let go this year for bad performance out of thousands of teachers in New York. And there's so many -- so much evidence in Los Angeles, as well, of it taking years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get to the bottom of this -- of this situation.

How do you get through that impediment to good teachers?

WEINGARTEN: Well, actually, let me -- let me say this. First, the states that actually have lots of teachers in teacher unions tend to be the states that have done the best in terms of academic success in this country. And the states that don't tend to be the worst.

The issue is not a teacher union contract or a teacher union management contract. What we have to do with these contracts is we have to make them solution-driven. We have to use them to solve problems like we have just done in the New Haven contract, like to some extent we did in the contract that was negotiated in Washington. But this is...

AMANPOUR: And the question really is about, who gets kept, who gets fired, who gets merit pay?

WEINGARTEN: So this is the issue. No one -- myself included -- wants bad teachers. We talk about bad teachers and good teachers all the time, but we don't actually spend the time talking about the overwhelming number of good teachers who do a superb job and need the tools and time and trust to do that.

In terms of teachers who are not doing what they need to do, both the secretary and myself have been a Johnny One Note about changing evaluation systems. That is a key, which is what we've both talked about, and talk about in terms of both practice and student learning.

Once you do that, which we're now doing in the union ourselves -- are doing in about 50 or 60 districts throughout the country -- you help people. And if you can't, you counsel them or sever them out of the profession.

At the end of the day, teachers -- this is probably the most important thing I can say -- teachers want what students need. They want to do a good job; they want the person next door to do a good job. But they know we need more than just ourselves.

AMANPOUR: And let me ask you, then, about the new curricula, about the new standards for measuring teachers and classroom performance. And you've identified and the president something like 5,000 failing schools where you need new principals, new teachers. Can you really do that?

DUNCAN: We have to as a country. Let me be clear: We have to educate our way to a better economy. I think where we're all united -- Randi, Michelle, all of us -- is we feel this huge sense of urgency.

In this country, we have a 25 percent dropout rate. That's 1.2 million students leaving our schools for the streets every single year. That is economically unsustainable, and that is morally unacceptable.

We have to get that dropout rate to zero as quick as we can. We have to dramatically increase graduation rates. And we have to make sure every single student that graduates from high school is college- and career-ready.

So the status quo is not going to work for the country. We have to get better, and we all have to work to get to that point absolutely as fast as we can.

AMANPOUR: One of the other controversial points -- and I'm going to turn to you, Michelle Rhee -- is the sort of pay for performance or merit pay for teachers. You've instituted that in your school system here, and how is that working?

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