'This Week' Transcript: Crisis in the Classroom

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?

RHEE: So we're just about to announce in the next couple of days the highest performing teachers in the district, the most effective. And then we will give merit pay to those folks, a bonus for last year, and then it will impact their -- their pay moving forward, as well, so that we will be able to pay the most effective teachers in the district almost twice as much as they used to be paid.

And I think that's incredibly important, because one of the things that we have not done in public education in the past is differentiate between the types of performers that we had. And it's incredibly important to recognize and reward the people who are doing heroic work in our classrooms every single day, just as important as it is to ensure that for those who are not performing, we're swiftly moving them out of the classroom.

AMANPOUR: One of the -- one of the issues, I think, you have said in your reform is to try to pay more teachers for things like math and science, try to pay teachers to go out into the poor and rural areas where they're desperately needed. Do you think that will create teachers who just now want to teach math and science? I mean, is it going to sort of subvert the balance of classrooms?

DUNCAN: I would love to have that problem. Let me be clear: For the past couple decades, we've had a shortage of math and science teachers in our country. So how are we going to compete in a globally competitive economy if our students don't have teachers who know biology and know chemistry?

We've had very few incentives and, frankly, lots of disincentives for the hardest working, the most committed teachers and principals to go to inner-city communities, to go to rural communities, to go to the children in the neighborhoods who need the most help, and education -- talent matters tremendously. Great teachers are the unsung heroes in our society. They perform miracles every single day.

How do we get the hardest-working, the most committed to the children who need the most help? We have to be more creative (ph). And let me be clear: Financial incentives are a piece of that, but a small piece. You need a great principal. You need a supportive community. All of us have to work together. You have to create the climate and the culture where great talent want to serve where it's most needed.

AMANPOUR: So you've just identified a crisis in...

(CROSSTALK)

WEINGARTEN: Right, that's what's so complicated about...

AMANPOUR: But a million school teachers are going to be retiring by 2014 because of Baby Boomers. How do you incentivize them?

WEINGARTEN: So this is what's interesting. The Gates Foundation just actually did a study of 40,000 teachers. And what they said was what is number one for them is to have a supportive, real environment in which they can work with each other and have a supportive principal.

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