Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

Arne Duncan: Better education starts with best educators

Reader Comment: Mr. Moran-this is a puff piece at best. Neither of you offer any statistics to back up the rhetoric. It's nice to say let's pay the best to teach, it's quite another to actually do it. Fisrt question would be, where will the money come from?

Ohanian Comment: Arne's claim that money is what will drive the "top people" into teaching is obnoxious in and of itself. But know this: The money to fund Arne's plan to pay top teachers between $130,000 and $140,000 will come from Bill Gates' plan to put more kids in the classrooms of the so-called "top" teachers, meaning there will be a reduction in staffing costs.

Here's the plan in Bill's own words.

Interview Tom Moran and Arne Duncan

Education is the one policy area in which Democrats and Republicans are finding an abundance of common ground, where President Obama and Gov. Chris Christie agree on most issues.

Both favor tenure reform that allows schools to fire bad teachers and reward good ones. Both believe student performance should be central to that assessment and that standardized tests should be used to help measure progress. Both believe in expanding charter schools, especially in failing districts, and closing down persistently failing schools.

Other reforms have bipartisan support as well: building quality preschools, expanding the school day and school year, and building a career path that gives the best teachers more authority and higher salaries.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan discussed the state of education reform recently with Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran. An edited transcript appears below.

Q. In many of the leading countries on education, elite college graduates go into teaching. But not in America. How important is that?

A. Extraordinarily important. In Singapore and Finland, you have to be in the top 10 percent to teach. How we strengthen that pool, train that pool, compensate that pool and create career ladders for them is vital. This entire pipeline is broken.

Q. What can we do?

A. One example: Denver put in two tracks. One track has higher compensation and less security. And they have a more traditional track. When they started, only a third of the teachers opted in. Today, itâs like 85 percent.

Q. Would that attract top college performers?

A. I would argue (it) would.

Q. What else?

A. When I travel around the country and try to recruit teachers, I ask: âWhat would you think if you were 30 years old and you could make $100,000 teaching?â And you can hear a pin drop. People get real interested in a hurry. No one goes into teaching to make $1 million, but you shouldnât have to take a vow of poverty either. Iâve talked about doubling salaries and a great teacher making $130,000 or $140,000. That would help.

— Arne Duncan and Tom Moran
New Jersey Star Ledger


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.