The gorilla in the living room is this: A majority of teachers are pretty ignorant in the subjects they are hired to teach. They write poorly, they do not read good books, they think poorly, and so they end up depending upon on-line lesson plans — which are wretched — or the puked-up politics they are fed in college.
Ask how many high school English teachers are able to read a poem by Milton without trouble, let alone teach that poem. Or rather ask how many college freshmen, having come out of “good” schools with English teachers galore, even recognize the name of John Milton.
Raising salaries won’t attract better teachers, not now, because those better teachers don’t exist. Our college education now is pretty wretched. I am regularly informed by my old students that even in graduate schools, students pursuing a degree in English literature do not know English literature, and often do not even LIKE English literature; they like “theory,” which they do not have the philosophical grounding to evaluate, and politics, which rushes into the vacuum that ignorance leaves.
There’s no reforming it. We have some teachers who really do love English literature — I’m choosing that subject because it’s the one I know best — but they are coming out of “classical” Christian academies, secondary and post-secondary, and they haven’t taken courses in education, they don’t have degrees in education or in English education, so in most states you can’t hire them for public schools. They end up teaching in private schools, most of them for wages that at best barely allow them to support a family.”