Should we pay teachers more?

Almost certainly.  As Dennis Miller once said, the people in charge of our children's futures should not be worried about whether they can afford genuine Ho-Ho's or only stale generic knock-offs.

But while higher teacher pay will undoubtedly be necessary in my fantasy school-world, until there are major institutional reforms, it won't do any good.  Teacher pay is, like foreign aid, a necessary but not sufficient condition. The world will not eradicate polio without spending a lot of money on the task.  But that doesn't mean that the first order of business is to raise a bunch of money, and then hand it to doctors to figure out what to do with.  The first thing you have to do is build an organization that is capable of using the money to good effect.  Otherwise, you'll just get what you get out of most foreign aid efforts:  richer government employees.

I have no problem with richer government employees.  But I do not think that the primary job of government is to enrich them.  The government's job is to obtain we, the taxpayers, good value for money.

The school system is dysfunctional on all sides.  On one side, you've got a bureaucracy so terrified that a teacher will make a mistake that it sets up "everything not compulsory is forbidden" rules.  I'm not talking about forcing people to do things that they may not want to do, but which actually further the institution's goals, like implementing Direct Instruction.  I'm talking about detailed rules specifying how many bathroom breaks a teacher can take.  And the fact that each school is complying with so many state, federal, and local regulations that it's a wonder they can ever take a break from filling out forms to teach a class.  We're treating educated professionals like they're would-be criminals who need to be watched every second lest they steal the chalk.

On the other side, you have an equally bureaucratic union, and a set of job protection rules that make it virtually impossible to fire anyone for poor performance, or reward them for good.  I don't think anyone who has actually gone through the school system thinks that length of service is a good measure of teaching effectiveness, but that's how they're paid--seniority, and accumulation of usually thoroughly worthless educational credentials.  And unless they start molesting their charges, it's basically impossible to fire them.

We need to start treating teachers like professionals.  We need to start paying them like professionals.  And we need to start holding them accountable like professionals.  Doing one or two out of three won't improve anything, except perhaps some teacher bank accounts.