The National Education Association describes them as publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that have been freed from some of the rules, regulations and statutes that apply to traditional public schools. In exchange, charter schools are accountable to a local school district for producing certain results. Those results are typically spelled out in a charter school's charter.
Supporters like charter schools because they are free to experiment with teaching techniques normally unavailable to traditional pubic schools. In addition, they often promise better discipline and higher academic performance. Results, however, are often mixed.
Critics say charter schools enjoy a built-in advantage because they are allowed to pick and choose which students they accept. Public schools, in contrast, must accept all who qualify, regardless of income or academic ability. Critics also say charter schools divert much-needed money from traditional schools. News reports say OSA’s opening budget was $16,000 per student, versus $7,200 for traditional schools in the Oakland Unified School District.
National Education Association
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
Article: The Case Against Charter Schools
Article: Charter Schools: Six Common Criticisms from Opponents – and Proof that They are Unfounded