In the fall of 1922 a School Reform Decree was promulgated by the Chinese Ministry of Education establishing a new school system. The contents of this decree defined the administrative structure and aims of Chinese education in conformity with the democratic principles of a reform movement which had been active during the four preceding years. The new statute appeared to consummate an effort to give the Republic of 1912 a truly democratic educational system. In reality however, this apparent victory of the reformers disguised a dilemma which was paralyzing their reform movement from within. Consumed with their vision of a true republic in which democratic education produced a democratic politics, the reformers had assumed this goal could be made a strategy of reform. As a strategy, it had no way to be effective in a society which was intensely undemocratic to begin with, and success in formulating goals proved quite different from reform in practice.