Charter schools are publicly sponsored autonomous schools that are substantially free of direct government control, but are held accountable for achieving certain levels of student performance and other specified outcomes. In most states, administration of charter schools is limited to nonprofit organizations. Aside from health, safety, and other specified regulations, charter schools would be exempt from state regulations about how to operate. Since 1991, charter schools have received support from Democrats and Republicans, teacher organizations, business groups, and parent associations. Educators, parents, and community activists who start charter schools argue that, freed from such restrictions, they can more effectively address the real needs of the students they serve. Although charter schools are too new for it to be possible to assess their long- term impact on educational outcomes, the early evidence would seem to confirm neither the greatest hopes of charter school proponents nor the greatest fears of opponents.