National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day March 30 – Jaime Escalante

0 Comments 30 March 2012

Whoa oh oh Folks,

We’ve got a doozy here today. Education, the American Dream and calculus all wrapped up in an Oscar worthy story for the ages.

Jaime Escalante.

A Bolivian born firecracker, emigrated to the United States and spearheaded the development of one of the premiere high school AP courses in the country….in East L.A.  – an area predominately made up of low-income Mexican Americans.

Escalante’s rise came during an era decried by experts as one of alarming mediocrity in the nation’s schools. And as we’ve seen over the past 20 years an issue that hasn’t gone away. Often drawing the ire of his colleagues and parents alike by pushing for tougher standards and accountability for students and educators Escalante spawned a new culture of learning in an area desperately in need of it.

When he was 33, already with a wife and child he was leaving behind, he boarded a planed destined for L.A. on Christmas eve. Armed with (at best) rudimentary English skills he worked his way up from cleaning floors at a coffee shop to technician at an electronics company to finally getting a teaching job at Garfield High in east L.A in 1974.

After several years Escalante developing a reputation for turning around hard-to-motivate students. By 1978, he had 14 students enrolled in his first AP calculus class. Of the five who survived his stiff homework and attendance demands, only two earned passing scores on the exam.

But in 1980, seven of nine students passed the exam; in 1981, 14 of 15 passed. Keep in mind For many years AP courses were a tool of the elite; the calculus exam, for example, was taken by only about 3% of American high school math students when Escalante revived the program at Garfield in the late 1970s.

Boom. Escalante was killing teaching calculus like I kill dumplings at a Chinese buffet.

I’ll let the obit take it from here but I’ll leave you with this. Escalante’s story was captured in the 1988 classic “Stand and Deliver” of which Edward James Olmos earned an Oscar nod for her portrayal of Escalante.

Obits on a Fryday!!

Jaime Escalante dies at 79; math teacher who challenged East L.A. students to ‘Stand and Deliver’

He became America’s most famous teacher after a 1988 movie portrayed his success at mentoring working-class pupils at Garfield High to pass a rigorous national calculus exam. He died of cancer.

By Elaine Woo

March 31, 2010

Jaime Escalante, the charismatic former East Los Angeles high school teacher who taught the nation that inner-city students could master subjects as demanding as calculus, died Tuesday. He was 79.

The subject of the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver,” Escalante died at his son’s home in Roseville, Calif., said actor Edward James Olmos, who portrayed the teacher in the film. Escalante had bladder cancer. Continue

- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

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