|It would be a waste to have our most talented people teaching third grade, or even high school physics for that matter.|
My understanding of your statement suggests to me the idea the most talented people would want to teach, but you propose this would be a waste of their talent, and those talented have come to a similar conclusion. I suspect in higher education there are quite a number of very talented people teaching, but they're also enjoying quite a number of additional perks which the K-12 teachers just plain don't get.
Additionally, I believe the subsequent discussion has over looked the fact teachers in middle schools and junior highs are often looked to, even counted on as the first observers to identify problems such as child abuse or malnutrition. And lets not forget how many times teachers have also been subjected to lawsuits of one nature or another, sometimes for very good reasons.
Raise the pay scale and requirements accordingly and one is bound to get a better quality of employee. One gets what one pays for sort of speak.
Btw, if you can find just anybody to teach high school prepatory college biology or any other such type of science course you've got talents greater than even I had originally believed. I don't believe such people are a dime a dozen and actually want to make teaching a career choice. Otherwise, people would be flocking to the positions essentially rendering the unions useless...know what I mean?
I like the commercial on tv where the son tells the dad he wants to teach and then says something along the line of "because otherwise how do doctors become doctors."
All of this being said, I voted against the last millage increase to raise teacher's salaries in my local school district. Not because I don't believe the teachers deserve to have better pay, but because I'm staunchly against having to pay for other peoples kids since my wife and I don't have or want children. I believe if people can't pay for them, they shouldn't engage in the conduct which produces them (just in case anyone has any doubts to my extremist views).