Tom Moran of the Star-Ledger interviewed U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Here’s an excerpt on how the U.S. can improve teacher quality and increase compensation:
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, it’s 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: “What would you think if you were 30 years old and you could make $100,000 teaching?” 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 shouldn’t have to take a vow of poverty either. I’ve talked about doubling salaries and a great teacher making $130,000 or $140,000. That would help.