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Stand and Deliver is a 1988 film dramatizing the work of Jaime Escalante, a dedicated high school mathematics teacher portrayed by Edward James Olmos.

Plot

Based on a true story, this low budget movie opens with the background of East L.A in 1982. In an environment that values a quick fix over education and learning, Jaime A. Escalante (Olmos) is a new teacher at James A. Garfield High School in Los Angeles County, Californiamarker determined to change the system and challenge the students to a higher level of achievement. Leaving a steady job for a position as a math teacher in a school where rebellion runs high and teachers are more focused on discipline than academics, Escalante is at first not well liked by students, receiving numerous taunts and threats. As the year progresses, he is able to win over the attention of the students by implementing innovative teaching techniques, using props and humor to illustrate abstract concepts of math and convey the necessity of math in everyday lives. He is able to transform even the most troublesome teens to dedicated students. While Escalante teaches math 1A, basic arithmetic, he realizes that his students have far more potential so he decides to teach them calculus. To do so, he holds a summer course of what is implied in the movie as pre-calculus material, such as advanced algebra, math analysis, and trigonometry. Calculus starts in the students' senior year.

Despite concerns and skepticism of other teachers, who feel that "you can't teach logarithms to illiterates", Escalante nonetheless develops a program in which his students can eventually take AP Calculus by their senior year, which will give them credit toward college. This intense math program requires that students take summer classes, including Saturdays from 7:00 AM to noon, taxing for even the most devoted among them. While other students spend their summers working or becoming teenage parents, Escalante's students learn complex theorems and formulas. The vast contrast between home life and school life, however, begins to show as these teens struggle to find the balance between what other adults and especially their parents expect of them and the goals and ambitions they hold for themselves. With Escalante to help them, they soon find the courage to separate from society's expectations for failure and rise to the standard to which Escalante holds them.

Taking the AP Calculus exam in the spring of their senior year, these students are relieved and overjoyed to be finished with a strenuous year. After receiving their scores, they are overwhelmed with emotion to find that they have all passed, a feat done by few in the state. Later that summer a shocking accusation is made: the Educational Testing Service calls into question the validity of their scores when it is discovered that similarities between errors is too high for pure chance. Outraged by the implications of cheating, Escalante feels that the racial and economic status of the students has caused the ETS to doubt their intelligence. In order to prove their mathematical abilities and worth to the school, to the ETS, and to the nation, the students agree to retake the test at the end of the summer, months after their last class. The students are given only one day to prepare and Escalante gravely tells them that the test will be harder than the first. The students all pass and Escalante tells the school principal that he wants his students' original scores reinstated.

Influence

  • The film's premise was satirized in the South Park episode "Eek, A Penis!" with Eric Cartman adopting the moniker "Eric Cartmenez" to teach cheating at calculus to inner-city youth.


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