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Legendary East L.A. math teacher Jaime Escalante dies at 79 [Updated]

Photo: Actor Edward James Olmos, left, compares notes with teacher Jaime Escalante during the filming of Legendary Garfield High School math teacher Jaime Escalante, who was immortalized in the film "Stand and Deliver," died Tuesday afternoon after battling cancer.

Escalante died at 2:27 p.m. at the home of his son, Jaime Jr., in Roseville, Calif., said actor Edward James Olmos, who portrayed Escalante in the film.

"He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren," said Olmos, who drove Escalante from a Reno hospital Monday night to Roseville.

Olmos said he was notified by the family several minutes after Escalante died.

Escalante, 79, helped turn the math program at the East Los Angeles high school into one of the top programs in the nation.

[Updated at 5:50 p.m.: “He did so much for so many people. And he did it with such grace and dignity,” Olmos said.

Escalante is survived by his wife, Fabiola; his sons, Fernando and Jaime Jr.; and six grandchildren.

Read Times staff writer Elaine Woo's full obituary: Jaime Escalante dies at 79; math teacher who challenged East L.A. students to 'Stand and Deliver']

-- Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Actor Edward James Olmos, left, compares notes with teacher Jaime Escalante during the filming of "Stand And Deliver" in 1988. Credit: (Warner Bros. / Associated Press)

 
 
Comments () | Archives (15)

A small salute to all the dedicated educators out there. Thank you.

All I can say is that I saw the movie, and I felt inspired, despite not having ever been an inner-city high school student.

Mr. Jaime Escalante is one of the last of a dying breed of K-12 teacher. Where education is today with LAUSD-it's a damn shame-it just stinks...

Viva La Raza! Viva la huelga! Viva Escalante! Viva Olmos!!!

my condolences to mr. escalante's family. although i know little about mr. escalante beyond what is depicted in the film about his efforts at garfield hs, i honor his dedication as an educator and as a person who recognized the ability of young people to achieve great academic and lifelong success. i admire the dedication of very few teachers with whom i crossed paths during my youth, and in honoring mr. escalante i hope that i also honor them and others like them. que descanse en paz, sr. escalante.

One of the finest human beings has left us. Thanks for being there for us Jaime.

"Escalante, 79, helped turn the math program at the East Los Angeles high school into one of the top programs in the nation."

Proof that a good, commited, first rate teacher CAN make a difference; irregardless of infighting and bickering about facilities, class sizes, nighborhoods, demographics, unions, etc, etc... 50% + of the entire CA budget for education should be enough.

Descanse En Paz.

May he rest in peace.

hi how you doing

My deepest condolences to Mr. Escalante's family. I was a big fan of him and saw all his "Futures" movies he made with the likes of astronaut Bonnie Dumbar and now Governor Schwarzenegger. He is the epitome of a GREAT teacher, His life reminds me of the quote from David Viscott,writer:
"The PURPOSE of life is to discover your gift.
The MEANING of life is giving your gift away."

Rest in Peace, Mr. Escalante.

Thank you for the strength of your convictions and to teaching your students to have strength as well. You are an inspiration to many of us teaching in LAUSD today. " And the only thing I ask from you is *ganas.* *Desire.* "

Although I have no connection to Garfield HS, I was greatly inspired by Mr. Escalante's desire to work with students whom many in society had already deemed unworthy. It was even more inspiring to see his students had the "ganas" to not fail him or themselves! I would've been very honored to have had Mr. Escalante as my teacher. Dios lo bendiga y que descanse en paz maestro Jaime!

My sincerest condolences to the Escalante family.

O. Hernandez - Honolulu, HI

DN states "Proof that a good, commited, first rate teacher CAN make a difference; irregardless of infighting and bickering about facilities, class sizes, nighborhoods, demographics, unions, etc, etc... 50% + of the entire CA budget for education should be enough."
You have no idea what it is like to work in low income school. Yeah, he did it and he inspired me to follow in his footsteps. However, the kids in his program were denied a chance to take higher math. He was working with a group of kids who wanted to succeed. This is not case everywhere. Society has also changed. Stupidity is now considered cool, while anything remotely successful is considered a nerd. Movies like Stand by Me and Freedom Writers are great theater, but they can't be applied to all schools and all teachers or students. It's great when something like this happens and Escalante is a true hero. However, generalizing a movie to reality even when it is a true story is foolish.

He did so much for so many people, I am proud of him.


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