Daniel Denvir has an excellent -- loooong, but excellent -- piece in the new City Paper on the who, how, and why of the assassination of public education in Philadelphia. The best pull-out section looks at what happened in the city of Chester, a few years ahead of us:
On the other hand, the outcome for Chester Community Charter School — which enrolls more than half the district's K-8 students — seems to be quite lucrative: $16.7 million of the charter's budget (more than 41 percent) will go to CSMI, the company that administers the school, according to the Inquirer. Where does that money go? Some point to the likes of CSMI's chief executive Vahan Gureghian — wealthy businessman, Montgomery County Republican Party powerhouse and a major Corbett donor. Last year, he spent $28.9 million on a Palm Beach oceanfront property.
CSMI's president, Jake Der Hagopian, is no better. He maintained numerous business ties to Leonardo Pelullo — described by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation as a "key organized crime associate."
Der Hagopian, who did not respond to calls from CP, spent much of the 1980s and '90s in Miami as executive vice president of the Royale Group. Pelullo ran the firm, and was convicted of defrauding Royale and the American Savings and Loan bank of $2.2 million partly to pay off a debt to an associate of vicious Philly mob boss Nicky Scarfo.