This book takes the reader inside the charter school movement, answering such questions as: *What is a charter school? *How are charter schools different from other public schools? *What does it take to create a charter school? *What motivates the people who initiate such schools? *What lessons can be learned from the experiences of those who have founded charter schools? *What does the growth of the charter school movement mean for society at large? Using detailed case studies of seven schools in three states, this book explores the challenges faced by the founders of these schools and develops guidelines for creating a successful school. Seymour Sarason's work on the creation of settings is used as a basis for examining the complex human interactions that contributed to formation of a unique culture at each school, as well as to establish guidelines for setting up a successful school. Introductory and concluding chapters place the charter school movement within a broader social and historical context. Tensions between the American tradition of local control of schools and the centralized tradition of schooling imported from Europe in the late 19th century are discussed. The gradual bureaucratization of U.S. public schools during the 20th century is described, along with problems that have been associated with the increasingly hierarchical and impersonal nature of educational institutions.