This is what I like to see from the national-level leader of education in our country. (We can debate how important the national-level leader is in a system as de-centralized as ours some other time.) He says that teachers should start out making around $60,000 a year, and end their careers making around $150,000. We all know that he has been pushing a great many of the "reforms" that are so odious to teachers' unions: relaxed charter schools, increased "accountability" for teachers (and apparently some school-level administrators, as well), merit pay, etc. With this speech to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, he indicates his awareness that under current circumstances, there is no reason for any competent person to become a teacher. He also noted the political improbability of making that happen.
The teacher leader in me says that it's nice to see a national figure recognize something the appropriate value of teachers. The cynic says that it's nice to see a national figure make a symbolic buy-off that will score political points without costing anyone anything.
Every year, at the district I last worked at, the superintendent took Teacher Appreciation Week seriously. He and his wife would spend the week before that preparing little tokens of appreciation--satchels with messages of support, lapel pins of acorns ("The mightiest oak tree grows from an acorn"), and the like. One day during that week he would make breakfast for the staff. He would give a three-sentence speech, in effect saying, "I wish I could show my appreciation by paying you thousands of dollars, but instead I made you pancakes. Thanks for all your hard work." And we would all eat.
I've heard the wish for thousands of dollars, Secretary Duncan. Now I'm waiting for my pancakes.