I graduated from a charter school in 2003. It was an absolutely amazing experience. Through my own childish stupidity I had failed out of public schools, and found myself in what was supposed to be my last semester of high school still needing a full year's worth of classes. So I ended up at the charter school, because it was setup to be work at your own pace. I never witnessed, or heard of, anything like what is mentioned in Jeff Bryant's article. The sketchiest thing that I felt went on was they allowed under age high school students to take smoke breaks. Granted they more or less had to, as a lot of the kids there would have not gone to school at all if it meant not being able to smoke.
This was absolutely amazing for me. Instructors did not bother me, and they handed me as much material to work on as I wanted. I managed to finish a full year's worth of school work in about six weeks. I was able to graduate on time, and get out.
That said, it was not a good fit for the other students. My fellow classmates, for the most part, fell into two distinct categories: drug addicts and pregnant women. These were not the type of people that benefited from being able to work at their own pace, largely unsupervised. The instructors did very little teaching. Most of them just read the newspaper, and made sure the class was orderly. As a result the majority of the other students never did any work, and very few of them ever graduated.
Of course not every charter school is going to be the same, but that was my experience. Ultimately I feel like the school I was in was an abysmal failure for the type of kids they were trying to help. I have always been one who prefers to teach myself out of books, and not be stuck in a rigid curriculum that limits my ability to learn at my own pace. I was highly motivated to get my crap done, and get out. The other students were your more traditional drop outs, who genuinely struggled with the school work, and they were not getting the help they needed.