Jefferson once wrote, "This [bill] on education would [raise] the mass of the people to the high ground of moral respectability necessary to their own safety and to orderly government, and would [complete] the great object of qualifying them to secure the veritable aristoi for the trusts of government, to the exclusion of the pseudalists... I have great hope that some patriotic spirit will... call it up and make it the keystone of the arch of our government." He championed a public education system so that the people could have custody of their government. The great democracy would have a population where any single citizen would have the ability to take the reigns as they saw fit.
Kozol goes far to point out the disservice we are doing to Jefferson's idea and to the children of this country (U.S.A.). We are so wrapped up in "saving" money, that we are willing to sacrifice the children of the poor so that we can continue on in our own comfort. It has reached the point where some schools now teach "job skills" (typing, shop, etc.) to the children of the lower class. The only message this conveys is to tell them that this is all they're good for.
The book goes even further and examines every concievable excuse for this disparity. For those who believe that the current system of education in this country is fair and equitable, this book will show you that it is anything but.