Jaime Escalante, the charismatic former East Los Angeles high school teacher who taught the nation that inner-city students could master subjects as demanding as calculus, died Tuesday. He was 79.
The subject of the 1988 box-office hit "Stand and Deliver," Escalante died at his son's home in Roseville, in northern California, said actor Edward James Olmos, who portrayed the teacher in the film. Escalante had bladder cancer.
"Jaime didn't just teach math. Like all great teachers, he changed lives," Olmos said earlier this month when he organized an appeal for funds to help pay Escalante's mounting medical bills.
Escalante gained national prominence in the aftermath of a 1982 scandal surrounding 14 of his Garfield High School students who passed the strenuous Advanced Placement calculus exam only to be accused later of cheating.
The story of their eventual triumph - and of Escalante's battle to raise standards at a struggling campus of working-class, largely Mexican American students - became the subject of the movie, which turned the balding, middle-aged Bolivian immigrant into the most famous teacher in America.