Peter Greene identifies the dirty secret of the charter industry. Two words. Real estate.

In Ohio, a charter lobbyist wrote the charter law for the state. When a charter operator insisted that he owned everything the charter bought with public money, the courts upheld him. It was in the law.

In Pennsylvania, charter schools own the property where the charter school is housed, and they charge rent. They charge rents above the market rate. The state doesn’t ask questions. The state doesn’t even notice that the charter operator owns the property and pays himself rent.

Greene offers a few examples from across the nation, and he didn’t even include Florida, where the charter scams are commonplace:

Carl Paladino, the notorious bad boy of the Buffalo school board, has made a mint in charter-related real estate deals. Not only does Paladino build the charters and lease them, but he builds the new apartment buildings near the shiny new school– a one-man gentrification operation. And he sits on the public school board, where he can vote to approve and support the growth of charters.

That’s not even the most astonishing sort of charter real estate scam. A 2015 report from the National Education Policy Center outlined what might be the worst. Take a public school building, built and paid for with public tax dollars. That building is purchased by a charter school, which is using public tax dollars. At the end of this, you’ve got a building that the public has paid for twice– but does not now own.

In February of this year, researchers Preston Green, Bruce Baker and Joseph Oluwole dropped the provocative notion that charter schools may be the new Enron. It’s a lot to take in, but Steven Rosenfeld pulled out five takeaways for Alternet, if you’d like a quicker look. But just some little factoids give you a taste. For instance, Imagine Schools take 40% of the money they collect from taxpayers and put that right back into lease agreements. In Los Angeles, owners of a private school leased room on their campus for a charter school that they were also involved in running– then jacked that rent up astronomically.

His article has links. Follow them. This is the most underreported story of the charter world: The big money is in the real estate, not necessarily the students.