Most studies show that teacher quality directly correlates to the quality of a school. And so you see all kinds of proposals for beefed up licensing requirements, more stringent evaluation of teachers, easier removal of underperforming teachers, and on and on.
Now a charter school in Manhattan is testing a much simpler approach: if you want better teachers, pay them more. A lot more.
Makes sense to me. Better pay is presumed to attract better performers in every other profession, from computer programming and graphic arts to finance and athletics. Better pay makes it easier to give a job your full attention, which can only improve results. Perhaps even more important, people who make more money generally get more respect from both society and their employers. Friends of mine who've left teaching cite lack of respect as a very serious problem: it's hard to earn the respect of students if you don't get it from administrators or parents. It's hard to maintain educational or disciplinary standards when parents and administrators won't back you up.