White public schools have always gotten more money than Black public schools. These funding disparities go back to the so-called “separate but equal” era—which was enshrined into the nation’s laws by the Supreme Court’s 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson.

The disparities have persisted even after Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that ordered the desegregation of America’s public schools.

Because Black schools get less funding even though Black homeowners pay higher property taxes than their White counterparts, we think reparations are due—and they can be paid by reforming the ways Black homeowners are taxed and schools in Black communities are funded.

We make this argument as school finance and education law scholars who have studied racial inequality in education for decades. We propose a four-part reparations plan to address racial inequalities in education.

  1. Tax rebates to Black homeowners A big reason for racial funding disparities is housing segregation. This separation has led to vast differences in housing values and wealth that families have been able to accumulate. This in turn affects how much funding can be raised through property taxes for local public schools.
  2. Closing racial gaps in school district revenues State general aid programs, which are intended to make sure all schools get equitable funding, routinely fall short.
  3. Change how race factors into school aid formulas School finance reforms have proved especially beneficial to Black students. Research is increasingly clear in this regard. Equitable and adequate financing of public school systems is a necessary condition for ensuring children equal opportunity to succeed.
  4. Eliminate racism in school finance formulas Some state aid programs exacerbate racial disparities, and worse, some are built on the systemic racist policies that created them.

Read the full article about reparations plans by Bruce Baker and Preston Green III at YES! Magazine.