Where does a particular program of educational reform come from? How does it come to be on the political agenda? These deceptively simple questions turn out to be very difficult to answer. Once an issue has been adopted by a government, it is difficult not to see it as having been inevitable. Much of the commentary on reform treats it as arising primarily from ideological commitments. Yet the evidence suggests that the process is complex, and that there is nothing automatic about any issue assuming a place of importance in political agendas that are inevitably too crowded and full of controversy.