Charter schools are being touted as the free-market alternative for parents whose kids are stuck in failing institutions, especially in inner cities. In the aftermath of Katrina, with 53% of its public-school students enrolled in charter schools, New Orleans has embraced so many charter schools it's become "ground zero" for the entire movement. It's the logical place for this week's conference of the National Alliance for Public School Charters. We ask New Orleans' superintendent and others what works and what doesn't. Are entrenched bureaucracies being overcome? Are teachers' unions coming around? Most important: are charters upgrading student achievement?