Achieving high levels of school quality is difficult everywhere. Aspects of the recent experience of the United States are reviewed, with special attention paid to incentive issues. Statistical evidence on school enrolments since 1980 is presented as a background to resource reallocation since 1994. South Africa’s poor school performance in mathematics and science is discussed. Recent initiatives regarding measurement and management of school quality are presented, and South Africa’s particular problem of multilingualism is discussed. South Africa needs to work intensively at school quality issues for years to come.