Jaime Escalante

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Jaime Escalante (1930-2010) was a Bolivian-born math teacher whose outstanding teaching methods were showcased in "Stand and Deliver." Many have named him the greatest American math teacher of the 20th century.[1] He prepared public high school students in Los Angeles for the Advanced Placement test in mathematics.
He is known for encouraging his students by telling them that they could succeed if they had desire (ganas). In fact, his teaching methods were so successful that he attracted press attention when a dozen of his students passed the Advanced Placement Calculus test. However, their scores were questioned by the ETS, which said they had a similar pattern of answers and accused them of cheating. To nullify their claims, Escalante had the students take the test again under direct ETS supervision, and their scores were came out even higher.

Conventional pedagogical wisdom holds that the poor, the disadvantaged, and the "culturally different" are a fragile lot, and that the academic rigor usually found only in elite suburban or private schools would frustrate them, crushing their self-esteem. The teachers and administrators that I interviewed did not find this to be true of Garfield students.[2]
If a team begins losing after a coach is replaced, sports fans are outraged. The decline of Garfield's math program, however, went largely unnoticed. [2]
I wanted to work with young people. That's more rewarding for me than the money.[3]


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