There is a simple story that describes our schools and that on the surface just does not make sense. It goes like this: teachers are the most important element of schools; we value high quality schools, and we want to improve their performance; and we are unwilling to permit the pay of teachers to keep up with pay elsewhere in the economy. This piece will build on the salient parts of this history in order to discuss a range of policy options that have been proposed. An underlying theme is that the current pay structure—the single-salary structure—acts to turn policy makers away from any substantial increases in teacher pay. As a result, any efforts to improve our schools through attracting and retaining effective teachers are handicapped by eliminating use of monetary incentives.