It's enlightening to contrast the deficient American school system with Finland's, arguably the best in the world. Over there only the top-tier graduates are invited to apply for teaching positions, and less than 50% of those are accepted. The pay is generous, the position highly respected in the community, and teachers are left to teach, with school administrators protecting them from bureaucracy rather than adding mindless rules and regulations to their other responsibilities. I think part of the problem is the history of K-12 teaching in the US: sadly, for a long time teaching was what women did until they got married. It was never seen as a career, except for old maids. It seems to me that the status of teachers must change, perhaps with a new level of certification that's rigorous and difficult to attain, and consequently rewarded with much higher pay.