Inspiration Report

Everyone knows the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver” with Edward James Olmos, about a high school math teacher in a tough Los Angeles neighborhood who helped his students succeed in AP Calculus. 

Jaime Escalante, the real teacher whose life inspired the movie, passed away from bladder cancer today at 79-years-old. 

In 1974, Escalante was a calculus teacher at Garfield High School.  He faced dislike and opposition from students and administrators who did not like his brash teaching style and his desire to change the school system.  In 1979, Escalante was allowed to teach his first AP Calculus class and in the years following, several of his students began to pass the class and the AP Calculus exam.  In 1982, Escalante became famous when 18 of his students passed the AP Calculus exam.  While there was suspicion that his students cheated, 14 of the students who had to retake the exam passed again, validating Escalante’s teaching tactics and the students’ honor.

Before you contine reading, watch a video of Jaime Escalante talking about becoming a teacher:


Without a doubt, Escalante worked tirelessly for years to help his students understand and excel at math.  Most of his students were not expected to excel or graduate, but Escalante helped them triumph academically and overcome cultural and racial stereotypes.  He showed that even inner city kids from Los Angeles could overcome their difficult environment and becomer winners in life. 

His dedication, courage, and open-hearted teaching style helped change the students and the school’s failing educational system.  His strength gave his students an opportunity to understand the value of education, knowledge, and hard work so that they could graduate and pursue careers.

Escalante’s amazing achievement allowed him to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999.

Today we remember a legendary man who was unstoppable in his pursuit of higher education and excellence from his students, no matter the environment or background.

More on Jaime Escalante:

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