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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jaime Escalante who? Garfield High seems to have forgotten a legendary teacher

News that former Garfield High math teacher Jaime Escalante, who was featured in the film Stand and Deliver, is battling cancer has renewed interest in the story of how he inspired and pushed the students at the East Los Angeles school to excel in mathematics and life. But when a Los Angeles Times reporter Esmeralda Bermudez paid a recent visit to Garfield High, it was hard to find any visible signs of Escalante’s legacy:

“His name is rarely mentioned. There is no scholarship,
no plaque, no poster. And though some of his former students are now teachers there, two of them math instructors, few were eager to talk about him. What remains is his old classroom, MH-1. It is a portable room near the center of the campus, with stadium seating, ideal for his college-like classes. The building is nondescript except for a red, white and blue sign outside: “Jaime A. Escalante Math Center GANAS.” MH-1 will be demolished this summer to make way for an auditorium.”

A high school administrator told the Times the school plans to eventually install a small plaque honoring Escalante, who left Garfield in 1991 “amid much discord” as his fellow teachers resented the Bolivian native’s “ego and the constant media attention they said pulled him from the classroom.”

Photo by Current Events/Flickr


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