Andrea Gabor is the Michael Bloomberg Professor of business journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York. She is also a deeply knowledgeable scholar of corporate education reform. She debunked the alleged “New Orleans miracle” in the New York Times.

In this post, she expresses her concern about the fawning praise for Eva Moskowitz’s charter schools and explains why Eva’s charter schools are not a model for public education.

She writes:

It is we—that is American citizens—who should be terrified because Success Academy is entirely in-sync with the Trump era. It is unapologetically anti-democratic, anti-union, segregated and relentlessly test-driven. And, it should be noted, the CMO has not yet graduated a single high school student.

At a time when we are facing an existential threat to our democracy—one enabled by a decades-long obsession with standardized tests that narrowed curriculum and helped kill off civics education—the championing of Success Academy by writer as influential as Elizabeth Green, she is the founding editor of ChalkBeat and author of Building a Better Teacher, is worrying indeed.

Let’s be clear. Judging by its roster of 46 schools, there are potentially thousands of families who are happy with the education Success Academy provides, and many more who might have been if they had won the network’s lottery—though parents have complained of the CMO’s harsh, and even abusive, ‘boot-camp-like” culture—see here and here. Indeed, hundreds, if not thousands of children have been pulled out by their families (or forced out) because of the network’s strict demands for behavioral compliance and its single-focused pursuit of high test scores…

But Green fails to address key questions about the kind of education Success kids get—and at what cost. She certainly doesn’t question whether the ever-changing, bubble-in test-scores are the best—or even a good–measure of learning. While she acknowledges giving up on democratic control of schools and districts, she never considers the historic, foundational role of public education in a democracy—and the civic cost of autocratic education systems. Nor does Green consider the successful public-school networks amid what she, rightly, describes as the crushing bureaucracy that has often stifled New York City schools—even though she has published stories about them!

Green also glosses over—and, in some cases, omits entirely—the considerable problems with the Success Academy model, including widespread creaming and credible allegations of abusive behavior toward children. Although Green’s own book points out that the best teachers have years of experience, she says not one word about Success Academy’s high teacher attrition rate. Some Success Academy schools lose over half of their teachers each year; few last more than three years.

Gabor writes that there are excellent models within public education of success, and she refers specifically to the New York Performance Standards Consortium, which has used a progressive model of education with great results.

Gabor despairs of those who think that democracy is the problem, and charter schools are the answer. To give up on democracy is to fall into the snare of the Trump agenda. Let the authoritarian leader solve all problems.

Why anyone believes that a strict authoritarian school is just right for all or most American children is a puzzle. It may be right for some, but it is not a model for public education.