I've written one hub on this topic, and it was based on my late wife's experiences as an eighth grade science teacher. My conclusion describes the hard way, but I believe the right and necessary way, to improve education anywhere in the world.
My premise is that true teachers, great teachers, are not entirely made by university teaching schools but are gifted with this special talent by nature. A great teacher has three qualities.
1. A great teacher is passionate about the subject(s) they teach. Proof of this is revealed in the fact that they continue to pursue knowledge in that particular area outside the classroom, in their private lives.
2. A great teacher has a great deal of knowledge about the subject(s) they teach. I have witnessed teachers attempting to teach material they have no knowledge of. They try to wing it and teach from the textbook, but students can see through this facade very easily and quickly.
3. Great teachers have the ability to communicate, with passion and deep knowledge, the information of their particular specialty. They are able to make the information relevant to nearly any age group.
Can our universities teach passion? Can they teach prospective teachers to love their subject so much that they pursue knowledge of it outside of the classroom when they aren't being paid?
Key elements to being a great teacher cannot be taught. These special people must be found since they can't be created. They are out there and many don't even know that they, at their very core, are great teachers.
There needs to be a strategy by universities, school systems, school boards and state governments to identify these people early, preferably while they are still in high school. Then they should be challenged to pursue teaching as a career. Some people might discover their innate ability to teach long after high school and these people should be assisted in making their ways to the classroom.
I am in favor of higher pay for teachers, but higher pay alone will only attract people looking for higher pay. There is already a glut of people in the teaching profession who hate what they do, but continue to teach because it is the only way they have prepared themselves to make a living.
Great teachers are primarily discovered and then are further enabled to fulfill this vital role in society.