Jonathan Kozol may be no conservative or supporter of home schooling, but he has plenty to say to us. Savage Inequalities is about continuing classism and racism in America as much as it's about public education. A sort of Jacob Riis of the late-20th century, Kozol's chief concern is for the underrepresented and marginalized.
We typically think public schools are too equal, infecting all students with the same lack of curiosity and thoughtfulness. While that's true, in other ways the schools aren't equal at all. There's a rift between rich and poor (seen in the difference between suburban and inner city schools), usually drawn across racial lines. White students have good teachers and state-of-the-art facilities, while ethnic minorities get a lousy education in unsafe conditions.
The problem (as we might expect) is money. There's enough money, but it's improperly distributed, and while everyone pays taxes only certain schools benefit while the others limp along on restricted budgets, unable to secure good teachers, the right textbooks, or spacious classrooms. Kozol investigated urban schools for years, publishing the results as Savage Inequalities in 1991, a hybrid of observational journalism, personal memoir, and research.
At the beginning of his career Kozol spent time in Paris learning to write from veterans like William Styron and Richard Wright. This apprenticeship is evident in the sharp prose that makes Savage Inequalities excellent reading. Not typically the kind of book we recommend, this is a fascinating look at one major problem from a perceptive insider.