Teacher pay and student performance have no meaningful relationship whatsoever, and to the extent that they do, they trend in opposite directions--that is, as salaries increase, student performance drops.
Still, toiling in their air-conditioned salt mines, they are underpaid, right? Wrong (also here). A couple of researchers from the Manhattan Institute find that the average public school teacher makes $34.06 an hour. The pay doesn't look as lucrative on an annual basis, because teachers work so much less than workers in other industries. But if the soft public school teacher's schedule (no weekends, no holidays, no evenings/overnights, etc) is adjusted to a standard forty hour workweek, they are making over $68,000 a year.
That's more than purchasing agents, insurance appraisers, logisticians, loan officers, computer programmers, database administrators, statisticians, agricultural engineers, industrial engineers, microbiologists, foresters, chemists, historians, geographers, dancers, actors, dietitians, occupational therapists, firefighters, police officers, economists, chefs, insurance agents, travel agents, mail carriers, animal breeders, stone masons, architects, carpenters, roofers, avionics technicians, painters, and semiconductor processors earn, just to name a few.
Time to introduce market forces into education, to video record classes, allow for school differentiation, and let students skip courses while receiving credit through 'testing-out' of classses in which they've already mastered the material. Most teachers will make less, and many will be out of the job. The good ones will make more, and a lot of deadweight loss will be removed. Everybody but the NEA wins.