I am not wading into the deep end of this discussion, at least not yet. I do want to throw in an anecdote:
The wife and I were visiting her
nursing-home bound mother around Christmas (not to be confused with my
also nursing-home bound mother who I drive up to see every couple of weeks.)
Mom-in-Law's roommate is an adorable, if somewhat talkative, old lady of 90-something. She was recapping ohhhhh pretty much the lives of everyone in her family for the last few decades and when she described (I think) her sister, she was trying to explain how much of a genius she was...
Her eyes got really wide, when she explained that Sis always had this great mind, and became a teacher!
I know it's predictable that somebody will say "WHAT? A teacher STILL makes more than the average income by 17%????"
Bear in mind that an average across a society includes the pizza delivery guy and other minimum-wage jobs -- all in greater numbers than the jobs up the pyramid like machinist, carpenter, editor, engineer, lawyer, or doctor.
That's why it's important to think about whether being a teacher is considered an impressive goal - or, as that roommate would say, a teacher!
Back when this old lady came of age, for at least a part of a society, it was a lofty goal to be smart enough to be a teacher.
I don't look around and see that attitude among successive generations.
Let's make a table of the two states, with two different points along continuums representing teaching (T), with other occupations defined by (A), along with plus signs and minus signs for distance from the mean (simplified by omitting the tails):
State 1 - teachers at just about average pay
T = A+
State 2 - highly paid teachers
T = A++
In each example, the teacher's subjective valuation of the career will add to the + level he or she assigns to teaching, if he or she is inexorably drawn to teaching. But the above simplified example deals with salary only. You can hold subjective intrinsic motivation as constant, apart from compensation.
In State 1, among average Americans, an aspiration to become a teacher will appeal to someone who believes that he or she may be able to become slightly better-off than average. Here's the stats according to a career site that accords with State 1:
Education, Training, and Library Workers Salary, Earnings and Wage Information | Career Overview
Education, Training, Library Workers (other than post-secondary)
Low - $15,500
Median - $32,200
High - $62,000
Here's the numbers for building cleaners
Low - $15,800
Median - $25,100
High - $49,700
So it's likely that someone who would otherwise be a building cleaner, would want to become a teacher, in the U.S. Both the prestige and the compensation in most circles would argue for a better career. The same goes for a bunch of clerical positions, etc. All of them, on average, take a slight step up when they become teachers.
But now let's look at, say, graphic designers:
Graphic Designer Salary, Earnings and Wage Information | Career Overview
Low - $24,100
Median - $39,900
High - $69,700
Or, perhaps more to the point, something like "lodging managers" - this is basically a guy running a hotel, or running a department's lodging services:
Lodging Manager Salary, Earnings and Wage Information | Career Overview
Low - $25,100
Median - $42,300
High - $82,500
The point of this exercise is NOT to say who "should" or "shouldn't" earn more than a teacher.
As is obvious, careers such as corporate executive etc. are going to be well in excess of teacher pay, as one would expect.
The point of this exercise is that there will be a great many non-glamor careers that pay in excess of teachers' salaries, adding to the "those who can do/those who can't teach" model (which I regard as something of a slur in any event, given that career choice partakes of motivations other than financial.)
But to the extent that respect and money are tied to career choice, it becomes evident that we are presenting teachers as somewhere between building cleaners and hotel managers.
Other occupations respond to market rates; publicly paid positions respond to what we believe we should pay.
Who we attract with teaching careers is tied to pay. If you aspire to one day make it to the middle, be a teacher. If you aspire to compare favorably to a graphic designer or a hotel manager, you "shoot a little higher" than teaching.
Is this what we want?