John Taylor Gatto Passes Away But His Spirit and Work Live On


Head Shot - JTG - 10-2018

The world’s most courageous teacher, John Taylor Gatto, has passed away.

It occurred on Thursday, October 25, 2018 in New York City, NY.

John lived a life empowering young people to teach themselves.

Named the New York State Teacher of the Year twice, John was a public school teacher for 30 years who then spent another 20 years as a world renowned speaker giving over 1500 speeches in 9 countries.

His Work helped expose the origins and purposes of the government monopoly compulsory school system, which include the creation of obedient people who joyfully serve the state and giant corporations.

He spoke about more than the problems in public schools. He also revealed proven methods of learning that empowered his students and other young people throughout human history.

John Gattos Chalkboard 1

John said, “A true education doesn’t cost a penny.”

He was a champion for children and families, having delivered presentations and workshops in all 50 states in the USA,  many of them being homeschooling, unschooling, and democratic schooling conferences.



Some other notable accomplishments include:

-planning and bringing about the most successful permanent school fundraiser in New York City history

-securing 1,000 apprenticeships with students

-directing the collection of tens of thousands of books for the construction of private student libraries

-organizing and financing a student-run food cooperative

-had his license suspended twice for insubordination and was terminated covertly once while he was on medical leave of absence

-lecturing at the City University of New York for five years

-placed a single eighth-grade class into 30,000 hours of volunteer community service

-produced four talking job dictionaries for the blind, two original student musicals, and launched an armada of other initiatives to reintegrate students within a larger human reality

-author of 6 books




John Taylor Gatto was born in Monongahela, Pennsylvania on Dec 15, 1935.

He attended public schools in Swissvale, Monongahela, and Uniontown, and the private Catholic boarding school in Latrobe, all towns in western Pennsylvania.

As a boy he held many jobs: sweeper in his grandad’s printing office, snow shoveler, lawn mower, Kool-Ade and comic book salesman, and delivery boy for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph and Uniontown Morning Herald, among others.

He did undergraduate work at Cornell, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia, then served in the U.S. Army medical corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Following army service he did graduate work at the City University of New York, Hunter College, Yeshiva, the University of California, and Cornell.

After college, John worked as a scriptwriter in the film business, was an advertising writer, a taxi driver, a jewelry designer, an ASCAP songwriter, and a hotdog vendor before becoming a schoolteacher.

During his school teaching years he also entered the caviar trade, conducted an antique business, operated a rare book search service, and founded Lava Mt. Records, a documentary record producer, which won several awards for cover design and content, and which presented the horror of H.P. Lovecraft, dramatized, and the speeches of Richard M. Nixon and Spiro Agnew, exactly as given.

In 1991, despite being the two-time New York State Teacher of the Year, he quit school teaching with a public announcement on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal, saying,  “I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know.”

Later that year he produced a show at Carnegie Hall called “The Exhausted School” where he explored innovative forms of respectful learning, which launched a career of public speaking.

In 1992, he was named Secretary of Education in the Libertarian Party Shadow Cabinet, and he has been included in Who’s Who in America from 1996 on. In 1997, he was given the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for his contributions to the cause of liberty, and was named to the Board of Advisors of the National TV-Turnoff Week.

In 2011, he co-created “The Ultimate History Lesson: A Weekend with John Taylor Gatto,” which is an epic 5 hour video interview exploring the history of education, political power, and freedom that was released in 2012.

One month after the interview was recorded, John had a stroke that ended up paralyzing half of his body. Despite the physical difficulties involved with paralysis, he continued to write essays, sometimes using his one index finger to type. These essays will be published and distributed in the coming months and years.

In 2017, his life’s Work, “The Underground History of American Education” was republished as Volume 1 of the 3 volume set, after the original publication was out of print for over 10 years.


david - paperback standing B

One of John’s dreams that has yet to be produced is a feature length film about the school system. He wrote an Open Letter to directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore in Volume 1 of “The Underground History of American Education” inviting them to partake in the project. Neither has responded, but the project is moving forward and will soon be seeking investors.

A public memorial for John is being planned for 2019. The free newsletter at will share its date and location once they have been determined. He is survived by his wife, Janet MacAdam Gatto.


Before John’s passing, he endorsed the Gatto Project, which is an initiative to “Get All of The Thinkers Out (of forced schools)” as an effective solution to the harmful nature of compulsory schooling.

John said, “All of the effort you make to systematically change schooling is a huge waste of time, energy, and resources.”

Stay connected at and @GattoProject on Twitter and Instagram.

May the courage, respect, wisdom, joy, love, and integrity that John Taylor Gatto embodied be passed on to all of us that they might be duplicated and exponentially multiplied throughout the world.

If you’d like to express your gratitude for John and his Work, please join the “Thank You John Taylor Gatto” Video Snowball Project.

Thank you,

David J. Rodriguez

Business Partner of

John Taylor Gatto