Robert A. Teegarden's Blog

March 31, 2010

Teacher Jaime Escalante dies at 79

Filed under: Education — by Robert @ 5:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

A teacher has died.

 He died of cancer. 

 Charismatic

 High school teacher

 “Jaime didn’t just teach math. Like all great teachers,  he changed lives.”

 Escalante gained national prominence in the aftermath of a 1982 scandal surrounding 14 of his Garfield High School students who passed the Advanced Placement calculus exam only to be accused later of cheating.

Escalante was a maverick… he mesmerized students

“His passionate belief [was] that all students, when properly prepared and motivated, can succeed at academically demanding course work, no matter what their racial, social or economic background. Because of him, educators everywhere have been forced to revise long-held notions of who can succeed.”

Escalante’s rise came during an era decried by experts as one of alarming mediocrity in the nation’s schools. He pushed for tougher standards and accountability for students and educators, often irritating colleagues and parents along the way with his brusque manner and uncompromising stands.

He was called a traitor for his opposition to bilingual education.

 He attended a well-regarded Jesuit high school, San Calixto, where his quick mind and penchant for mischief often got him into trouble.

After high school, he served in the army during a short-lived Bolivian rebellion.

 Before he graduated, he was teaching at three top-rated Bolivian schools.

With $3,000 in his pocket and little more than “yes” and “no” in his English vocabulary, Escalante flew alone to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve 1963. He was 33.

His first job was mopping floors in a coffee shop

He enrolled in English classes.

He was promoted to cook,

 He earned a scholarship to Cal State Los Angeles to pursue a teaching credential

He discovered how watered-down the math textbooks were — on a par with fifth-grade work in Bolivia

At his insistence, they studied before school, after school and on Saturdays

The Advanced Placement program ….For many years it was a tool of the elite…

Escalante’s dramatic success raised public consciousness of what it took to be not just a good teacher but a great one.

Ultimate performer in class

 Cracking jokes

 Rendering impressions and using all sorts of props

He liked to be judged by his results

For the whole story, go here:  http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-jaime-escalante31-2010mar31,0,4111731,full.story

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