samedi 10 avril 2010

Jaime Escalante, R.I.P.

Jaime Escalante, the math teacher portrayed in the hit '80s movie Stand and Deliver, has died of cancer at age 79. Escalante is legendary for creating the advanced math 'pipeline' program at Garfield High in East Los Angeles in the '70s and '80s, an area populated mostly by poorer Hispanic families. Escalante's students eventually outpaced even richer schools in advanced placement tests for calculus. Escalante refused to accept excuses from his students or community about why they couldn't succeed, and demanded a standard of excellence from them, defying the notion that poor Hispanic kids just weren't capable of advanced work. While Escalante became a celebrity because of the hit movie about his efforts, jealousy from other teachers ... as well as red tape from teacher's unions and the public school bureaucracy, resulted in Escalante and his hand-picked teachers leaving Garfield. Since his departure, Garfield has never replicated Escalante's success with math students, and Reason Magazine reported on the shameful way in which others tore down what Escalante and his teachers worked so hard to build.

Je ne connaissais ni cette personne ni le film qui l'a rendu célèbre Stand and Deliver (Envers et contre Tous) dans lequel il était interprété par Edward James Olmos (l'amiral Adama dans BSG).

La lecture de sa notice sur WP et de l'article de Reason montre comment un prof exceptionnel peut aider des élèves considérés comme irrécupérables. C'est triste de voir la réaction qu'ont eu les autres enseignants et l'administration de l'époque.

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