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'Stand and Deliver' inspiration dead at 79

March 30, 2010 at 10:15 PM   |   Comments

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LOS ANGELES, March 30 (UPI) -- Former Los Angeles high school teacher Jaime Escalante, the inspiration for the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver," died of bladder cancer Tuesday. He was 79.

Edward James Olmos, who played Escalante in the celebrated movie, confirmed the teacher's death at his son's home in Roseville, Calif., to the Los Angeles Times.

The Bolivian-born educator became famous after the movie, which showed how he taught at-risk, inner-city students calculus and drove them to pass Advanced Placement tests.

"Jaime didn't just teach math. Like all great teachers, he changed lives," the Times quoted Olmos as saying earlier this month when he helped raise funds to pay for Escalante's medical bills.

"Jaime Escalante has left a deep and enduring legacy in the struggle for academic equity in American education," said Gaston Caperton, former West Virginia governor and president of the College Board, which sponsors the Scholastic Assessment Test and the Advanced Placement exam. "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."

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