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Jaime Escalante
Birth: Dec. 31, 1930
Death: Mar. 30, 2010
Roseville
Placer County
California, USA

Educator, Folk Figure. Bolivian-born American schoolteacher who earned renown and distinction for his work at Garfield High School, East Los Angeles, California in teaching students calculus from 1974 to 1991. Escalante was the subject of the 1988 film Stand and Deliver, in which he is portrayed by Edward James Olmos. While living in Bolivia he taught physics and mathematics for nine years. In 1964 he decided to move to the United States. To prepare, he began studying science and mathematics at University of Puerto Rico. Upon moving from Puerto Rico to California, Escalante could not speak English and had no valid American teaching credentials. He studied at night at Pasadena City College to earn a degree in biology. He took a day job at a computer corporation (Burroughs Corporation), while continuing his schooling at night to earn a mathematics degree at California State University, Los Angeles where he studied calculus. In 1974 he began teaching at Garfield High School, East Los Angeles. Escalante was initially so disheartened by the lack of preparation of his students that he called his former employer and asked for his old job back. Escalante eventually changed his mind about returning to work when he found 12 students willing to take an algebra class. Shortly after Escalante came to Garfield High, its reputation had sunk so low that its accreditation was threatened. Instead of gearing classes to poorly performing students, Escalante offered AP (advanced placement) calculus. He had already earned the criticism of an administrator who disapproved of his requiring the students to answer a homework question before being allowed into the classroom. "He told me to just get them inside," Escalante reported, "but I said, there is no teaching, no learning going on". Determined to change the status quo, Escalante had to persuade the first few students who would listen to him that they could control their futures with the right education. He promised them that the jobs would be in engineering, electronics and computers but they would have to learn math to succeed. He said to his students "I'll teach you math and that's your language. With that you're going to make it. You're going to college and sit in the first row, not the back, because you're going to know more than anybody". The school administration opposed Escalante frequently during his first few years. He was threatened with dismissal by an assistant principal because he was coming in too early, leaving too late, and failing to get administrative permission to raise funds to pay for his students' Advanced Placement tests. This opposition changed with arrival of a new principal, Henry Gradillas. Aside from allowing Escalante to stay as a math teacher, Gradillas overhauled the academic curriculum at Garfield, reducing the number of basic math classes and requiring those taking basic math to concurrently take algebra. He denied extracurricular activities to students who failed to maintain a C average and new students who failed basic skill tests. Escalante continued to teach at Garfield, but it was not until 1979 that Escalante would instruct his first calculus class. He hoped that it could provide the leverage to improve lower-level math courses. To this end, Escalante recruited fellow teacher Ben Jimenez and taught calculus to five students, two of whom passed the A.P. calculus test. The following year, the class size increased to nine students, seven of whom passed the A.P. calculus test. By 1981, the class had increased to 15 students, 14 of whom passed. Escalante placed a high priority on pressuring his students to pass their math classes, particularly advanced calculus. He rejected the common practice of ranking students from first to last and instead frequently told his students to press themselves as hard as possible in their assignments. In 1982, Escalante came into the national spotlight when 18 of his students passed the Advanced Placement calculus exam. The Educational Testing Service found these scores to be suspicious, because all of the students made the exact same math error on problem #6, and also used the same unusual variable names. Fourteen of those who passed were asked to take the exam again. Twelve of the 14 agreed to retake the test and did well enough to have their scores reinstated. In 1983, the number of students enrolling and passing the A.P. calculus test more than doubled. That year 33 students took the exam and 30 passed. That year Escalante also started teaching calculus at East Los Angeles College. By 1987, 73 students passed the A.P. calculus AB exam and another 12 passed the BC version of the test. This was the peak for the calculus program. The same year Gradillas went on sabbatical to finish his doctorate with hopes that he could be reinstated as principal at Garfield or a similar school with similar programs upon his return. 1988 saw the release of a book Escalante: The Best Teacher in America by Jay Mathews (ISBN 0-8050-1195-1) and a movie Stand and Deliver detailing the events of 1982. During this time teachers and other interested observers asked to sit in on his classes. Escalante received visits from political leaders and celebrities, including then-President Ronald Reagan and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Escalante has described the film as "90% truth, 10% drama". (bio courtesy of: Wikipedia) 
 
Burial:
Rose Hills Memorial Park
Whittier
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Lakeside Gardens, Section 18, Lot 3914, Grave 3
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Breadlady45 from Chicago
Record added: Mar 31, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50479530
Jaime Escalante
Added by: Breadlady45 from Chicago
 
Jaime Escalante
Added by: Louis Mata
 
Jaime Escalante
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Mike Valeanu
 
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Sir...a finer example of a teacher would be hard to find!
- charles campbell
 Added: Jun. 20, 2014

- Patti Podboy
 Added: Mar. 30, 2014

- Joseph Wilby
 Added: Jan. 30, 2014
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