Lisa Hiton, Poet, Professor, Filmmaker, Writer, Arts Educator
As a perpetual adjunct myself, I would say that the claim above is quite untrue. There are a few prestigious universities that pay a few high profile faculty members "a lot". On average, a faculty member with tenure on a college campus makes about $75,000 per year. Many public high school teachers average about the same per year. Also remember that college professors do not get pensions with their tenure.
To be sure, nearly 3/4 of all college professors are CONTINGENT FACULTY. To give you an idea, your average adjunct makes about $3,500 per COURSE (that's for a 3 or 4 credit class). No benefits. No tenure. No pension. So for those of us with terminal degrees who desire a life of research, publication, and teaching, we scramble from campus to campus around a given state hoping to make about $18,000 per year. We have no benefits, no job security, no visibility, no administrative connections etc.
I do agree that the lack of pedagogical attention on the part of some professors can be frustrating. I happen to have an M.Ed. to pair with my terminal degree, so I do understand the complexity of that issues quite deeply. I will say this though: the prestige is in the eye of the beholder--people on campuses have to know highly complex and deep things about a given field, and they must contribute to expanding the field consistently in order to be held in such esteem. So imagine dividing up enough time to write books, conduct research, meet with graduate and undergraduate students, attend departmental meetings and events, and grade the work of 45-100+ students' work per semester. Just because the quality of life affords you a school schedule doesn't lessen the demands of what it takes to educate young people at any level. It may seem professors have it easier because there is less systematic interference in our day to day lives than a secondary school teacher. And yet, many of us are conducting office hours out of the trunk of our cars because we aren't given an office on a campus, all because we love both education and the ideas of our given field.