The teacher who inspired the ’80s flick Stand and Deliver, Jaime Escalante, died Tuesday. He was 79.
Despite a massive fundraising effort to raise money for Escalante’s medical treatment by former students and fans and stars of the inspirational box office hit, the heroic educator lost his battle against cancer at his home outside Los Angeles, according to Edward James Olmos, who played him in the 1986 movie.
Stand and Deliver told the inspirational story of how Escalante turned the failing calculus program at Garfield High School in tough East Los Angeles into one of the top in the nation. The film depicted events of 1982 when his inner-city student’s test scores were questioned by officials. Those who were retested had their passing scores reinstated.
Escalante — who was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame and even earned the Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education — would go on to host a PBS television series that promoted careers in math and science. He retired from teaching and returned to his native Bolivia in 1999, but recently returned to California for medical treatment.