Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos) becomes a math teacher at James A. Garfield High School in Eastern Los Angeles. The school is full of Hispanic students from working-class families who are way below their grade level in terms of academic skills and have a lot of social problems. Escalante seeks to change the school culture to help the students excel in academics.
He soon realizes the untapped potential of his class and sets a goal of having the students taking AP Calculus by their senior year. Escalante instructs his class under the philosophy of “ganas”, roughly translating into “desire” or “motivation”.
The students begin taking summer classes in advanced mathematics with Escalante having to withstand the cynicism of the other faculty, who feel the students are not capable enough. As the students struggle with the lower expectations they face in society, Escalante helps them overcome this adversity and pass the AP Calculus exams.
To his dismay, the Educational Testing Service questions the success of the students, insisting there is too much overlap in their errors and suggests the students cheated. Escalante defends his students, feeling that the allegations are based more on racial and economic perceptions. He offers to have the students retake the test months later and the students all succeed in passing the test again, despite only having a day to prepare, dispelling all concerns of cheating.
Stand and Deliver is a 1988 American drama film based on the true story of high school math teacher Jaime Escalante. Edward James Olmos portrayed Escalante in the film and received a nomination for Best Actor at the 61st Academy Awards. The film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.
Stand and Deliver (1988)
Directed by: Ramón Menéndez
Starring: Edward James Olmos, Estelle Harris, Mark Phelan, Virginia Paris, Eliot, Adelaida Alvarez, Will Gotay, Rosanna DeSoto, Ingrid Oliu, Bodie Olmos
Screenplay by: Ramón Menéndez, Tom Musca
Cinematography by: Tom Richmond
Film Editing by: Nancy Richardson
Costume Design by: Kathryn Morrison
Art Direction by: Milo
Music by: Craig Safan
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: March 11, 1988