This article examines many of the frustrations associated with implementing education reforms in mainland Chinese schools. Our basic argument is that when taken individually, many of the recent reforms are beneﬁcial, but when parceled together and thrust hastily at schools, they are unwieldy and disconnected. We suggest that the inability of the reforms to impact schools is due in large part to their lack of sufﬁcient connection to the reality of school life, to each other, to educative and public perceptions, and to the political and cultural context of China. We discuss and illustrate these issues under headings of instrumental, intellectual, political, cultural, and communicative disconnections. Copyright © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.