John Taylor Gatto completed his undergraduate work at Cornell, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Army medical corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Following his military service, John did graduate work at the City University of New York, Hunter College, Yeshiva, the University of California, and Cornell. After college, he worked as a scriptwriter, an advertising writer, a taxi driver, an ASCAP songwriter, and other assorted jobs before becoming a schoolteacher. John has been named New York City Teacher of the Year on three occasions. He then quit teaching in 1991 while still New York State Teacher of the Year, claiming that he was no longer willing to hurt children.
Later that year he was the subject of a show at Carnegie Hall called "An Evening with John Taylor Gatto," which launched a career of public speaking in the area of school reform. John is currently at work on a documentary film about the nature of modern schooling entitled The Fourth Purpose, with his friend and former student, Roland Legiardi-Laura. He also hopes to build a rural retreat and library for the use of families pondering local and personal issues of school reform.