A charter school is a publicly-financed school free of the liberal teachers' unions and exempt from many of the usual requirements imposed by the state board of education. This exemption is permitted in return for a promise to deliver higher student achievement, as set out in the school's charter.
- Public charter schools, now legal in 40 states plus D.C., receive varying degrees of relief from constricting regulations and teacher contract rules. The group holding the charter—it may be a consortium of parents or a university or a non-profit organization—is accountable for the school’s performance: if a school fails, it can be closed. 
- As of 2010, these tens states still did not allow any charter schools: Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
- Minnesota enacted the first charter-school legislation 16 years ago. California has more charter schools than any other state.
Typically parents and educators organize a charter school to overcome inefficiencies and/or illogical requirements that retard education, such as social promotion and union-mandated raises which are unrelated to teacher effectiveness (see merit pay).
- In public schools teachers almost automatically get tenure — a lifetime job guarantee — after three years. 
Charter schools by State
- Illinois has 52 charter schools (as of 2011-2012), mostly in Chicago. The requirements for establishing a charter school in Illinois are as follows:
- approval of the design plan by the local school board (or, if denied, approval by the State Board of Education on appeal)
- teachers do not need to be certified (except in Chicago), but need to meet other qualifications such as a college degree
- negotiated funding from school district of 75%-125% of its funding per capita.
- Missouri allows charter schools in the St. Louis (where there are bout 20) and Kansas City areas only. Missouri recently passed SB 576 to expand charter schools while requiring greater transparency and accountability for them.
The NEA opposes charter schools, which typically do not use teachers' unions that benefit the NEA.
- Charter schools promise to improve student achievement as a condition of relief from some of the rules and regulations that apply to traditional public schools ... [ NEA]
- http://www.isbe.state.il.us/charter/pdf/schools_count.pdf Illinois law caps the number of its charter schools at 75 in Chicago and 45 outside of Chicago (currently there are 38 in Chicago and only 14 outside of Chicago).