theodp writes "Three years ago, Sarah-Palin-bogeyman William Ayers published a paper questioning the direction the small school movement was taking (PDF) with the involvement of would-be education reformers like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And now, after $2 billion in grants, Bill Gates concedes that in most cases his foundation's efforts in that area fell short. 'Many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students' achievement in any significant way,' said Gates. Bill does cite High Tech High as one of the few success stories, but even there has to limit his atta-boys to the San Diego branch — the Gates-backed Silicon Valley High Tech High closed its doors abruptly due to financial woes (concerns about the sustainability of Gates-initiated small schools were voiced in 2005). Not surprisingly, some parents are upset about the capital that school districts wasted following Bill's lead."