In a recent interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe", Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined his view that teachers who perform well deserve great salaries.
Merit pay is currently a hot issue for lawmakers and education stakeholders, with both sides of the political spectrum having ideas on how much and where government funding should be dispensed and to what extent teachers' unions should have a role in making these decisions, writes Jeff Poor at the Daily Caller.
Mayor Bloomberg has recently suggested that one of the ways to reward great teachers and encourage excellence in the field is to offer huge bonuses of up to $20,000 for teachers in public schools who perform well over two years.
And Duncan, who is a self proclaimed radical on the issue of teacher pay, believes that this may be a good place to start.
"I think young teachers — we should double salaries. A starting teacher should make $60-$65,000 [a year]. A great teacher should be able to make $130, $140-$150,000 [a year]. Pick a number. We have beaten down educators. We have to elevate the profession. We have to strengthen the profession. We have to reward excellence.
"Great teachers, great principals make a huge difference in our nation's children. We have to invest in them and yes, need to reward excellence, particularly when great teachers are taking on tough assignments and inner-city schools in rural or remote areas, areas that of critical need like math and science — we have to get much more creative than we have in the past."
While Duncan believes an impressive bonus structure is a good idea, he would like to see it met with a raise in base pay.
"No, I think we need to do both," Duncan said.
"I think we need to raise the base pay. I think great teachers should be able to make a lot more money than they do today based upon the difference they're making in students' lives, based upon willingness to take on tough assignments in underserved communities."
Duncan wants to see an end to an age where great teachers and poor teachers are treated alike.
"We have to recognize and reward excellence. We have to recruit the next generation of great teachers into our nation's classrooms.
"The right way to do that, I think, is by offering a lot more pay and by asking more of them as well."