Mr. Kristof of the NY Times suggests that the U.S. needs to raise teacher's salaries, not lower them. Here is a link to his article, with my submitted comment below.
One problem with raising the salary for teachers is that the labor market for teachers is already saturated. I personally know several unemployed teachers who have been looking for teaching jobs for a couple of years now, mostly in the K - 6 range. With several teachers in waiting for each job out there, where is the incentive to raise pay? Perhaps getting rid of teachers unions, which I am a proponent of, would free up job openings for more qualified teachers who currently can't break in due to the unions. More effective teachers free of the union pay shackle may demand higher salaries. It may also lower the amount of people currently waiting for teaching jobs as well, since maybe a large quantity of equally ineffective teachers are waiting in the wings to replace the current ones.
I think Mr. Kristof is right that he says that we need more effective teachers and perhaps better pay is a way to get them. But when many school districts are filling all of their positions and more with the current salary offerings I don't think the answer to the problem is as simple as raising pay.