Yesterday, the education community received some sad news out of Los Angeles. Jaime Escalante, the famed calculus teacher depicted in the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver,” passed away.
Eduflack assumes that just about everyone in education policy has seen this movie, and knows the story of what “Kimo” was able to do for the students of Garfield High School. The tale is actually quite remarkable, and is incredibly told in WaPo’s Jay Mathews book, “Escalante: The Best Teacher in America.”
Escalante’s story is about more than just getting a group of students, previously given up on by just about every corner of public education, to succeed on one of the hardest tests (AP Calculus) that high school student can take. In many ways, Escalante embodies many of the issues we face today. He was a mid-career transition teacher, giving up a corporate career to follow his passion for teaching. He demonstrated that it is possible to close the achievement gap, and it is possible by pushing students harder and accepting no excuses. The cinematic version of his tale forced many to better understand the issues of cheating on standardized exams and what sends up red flags. And Escalante was a textbook example of what is possible with an effective, passionate, and skilled teacher leading a classroom.
The Los Angeles Times has the full story here.
For more than two decades, many have said we need more Jaime Escalantes in our classrooms. Eduflack couldn’t agree more.