September 26, 2012 by kguzman707
Stand and Deliver
“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. “ –Mr. Escalante
Someone who has made significant contributions to American society through teaching has been Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez. Most notably known for the movie produced in his honor, Stand and Deliver, in which he was played by actor Edward James Olmos, it is not difficult to find information on this renowned educator. Escalante was born in Bolivia to two educators in 1930. He worked random jobs, taught himself English, and earned two college degrees before coming to the United States in the 1960s with the purpose of seeking a better life. In 1974, Escalante began his job at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. While there, Escalante set on to teaching a group of students in a bad quality high school known for violence and drugs. Faculty already perceived that there was no hope for these students, but Escalante challenged them to live up to their potential. He insisted to them that they could control their futures with the right education. Escalante believed in the potential of his students. He required those taking basic math to take algebra at the same time. He wouldn’t allow students who failed to obtain a C average or failed basic skills tests to participate in extracurricular activities. “If he wants to teach us that bad, we can learn,” remarked one of his students. In 1982, Escalante started an AP Calculus course with a group of students. That same year, he began to teach Calculus AB and BC at East Los Angeles College. By 1987, his students were passing AP Calculus AB and BC tests. This was a peak time for that college. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, teachers and interested observers came to sit in his classes. Political leaders and celebrities such as Reagan and Schwarzenegger visited him as well. Despite some costs, Escalante’s calculus program continued to grow. Escalante received many awards for his contributions to the field of education, including the Presidential Medal for Excellence, was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, awarded by the Golden Key International Honor Society, among many others.