Andrea Gabor is the author of the new book, “After the Education Wars,” a penetrating account of the mistakes of the reform movement.

She writes here about the wrong turns taken by charter enthusiasts. How did a movement intended to unleash grassroots energy turn into an industry dominated by national corporate chains?

“When Albert Shanker, the legendary teachers’ union leader, promoted the idea of charter schools 30 years ago, he was hoping to create flexibility from the constraints of education bureaucracies and union contracts so teachers and communities could experiment and innovate.

“In the years since the first charter-school law was passed in Minnesota, in 1991, the charter movement has strayed far from Shanker’s original vision. Instead of community-based, educator-driven innovation, charters have grown into an industry dominated by like-minded management organizations that sometimes control hundreds of schools — some nationwide.

“These charter organizations have proliferated with the help of deep-pocketed philanthropists and businesspeople who have sought to transform the public-education system so that both charters and traditional public schools operate like companies competing in an economic market. Schools survive by producing the greatest gains, usually measured by test scores. The rest lose students as families choose the highest-performing schools or have their charters revoked by state-designated organizations that authorize charters.

“Now the charter industry is reaching an inflection point. Business backers are pushing to expand charter schools at an unprecedented rate, doubling down on the idea that free markets are the best approach to improving K-12 education. At the same time, critics — some from within the charter movement — are shining a spotlight on the industry’s failures and distortions…

“That faith in markets isn’t supported by the evidence, however. Studies show that, on average, charter schools and traditional public schools produce similar results. But freedom from regulation is associated not with success but with especially high failure rates; charter-school performance tends to be weakest in states with the laxest rules for ensuring education quality.

“Paradoxically, deregulation has also tended to narrow choices rather than expand them. New Orleans, for example, which has turned most of its public schools over to charter organizations, is dominated by charter-school oligopolies that enforce uniform curriculum and disciplinary standards. Instead of fostering creative pedagogy, the charter industry has focused on producing high test scores, the key measure by which philanthropists determine which charter organizations to finance. Teachers are typically required to teach canned curricula and rarely last more than a few years, and students are often subjected to one-size-fits-all discipline policies…

“Education policies should protect children and their schools from the brutal realities of the market while leaving room for the kind of teacher- and community-led experimentation that the charter movement was originally meant to foster.”

Gabor is the Bloomberg chair of business journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York. This article appeared at Michael Bloomberg is a major supporter of charter schools nationally.

KIPP did not like Gabor’s article. But KIPP Is wrong, and Gabor is right. The original idea of charters was that each would be unique, and they would be teacher-led to try out new ideas. Neither Shanker nor the other charter originator Ray Budde ever imagined corporate charter chains with cookie-cutter “no excuses” policies. KIPP is the Walmart of charter schools, which may explain why the rightwing, anti-union Walton Family Foundation showers millions on them.