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SUMMARY: This presentation reviews the role of special education as a catalyst in education reform and discusses the unintended consequences of even well designed reform. For example, the campaign to correct over enrollment of children with reading problems in special education—a top-down campaign emphasizing evidence-based reading in general education and a cornerstone of NCLB—has contributed to a grassroots backlash against testing and “narrowing of the curriculum.” A difficulty appreciating education’s dynamic complexities helps explain a history of swinging between extremes and why even great solutions often create new problems. Appreciating these dynamic complexities and working from both the bottom up and from the top down are essential to making and sustaining improvements in education. Each year, three million youngsters enter the U.S. education system with high hopes. It is our job to ensure those hopes are fulfilled.