Katherine E. Lehnen *
Charter schools have become a hot topic in education nation-wide. Advocates believe the hybrid public and private structure of charter schools enables them to provide education superior to traditional public schools. Charter schools have more freedom than their traditional public school counterparts because they are not subject to the same laws and restrictions. Charters use that freedom to set high standards for themselves and their students, and then strive to meet those standards using alternative, experimental curricula and teaching methods. However, the schools are not without controversy, and opponents question the educational effectiveness of charters, while entities such as teachers unions and local school boards often staunchly combat their formation. Still others believe charter schools conflict with integration efforts. In addition to ideological challenges, charters face various legal battles regarding issues such as religion and equal protection. Nevertheless, the charter school movement has swept across many states in the nation.