East Los Angeles teacher Jaime Escalante honored with special stamp

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Legendary East Los Angeles teacher Jaime Escalante has been honored with a special stamp dedicated to the late educator.

Escalante, who taught math at Garfield High School, was made famous by the movie, "Stand and Deliver."

The film was inspired by events in 1982, when 18 of Escalante's students passed the Advanced Placement calculus test. The College Board, which runs the AP program, accused 14 students of cheating.

Escalante suspected the cheating accusation stemmed from the fact that his students were Latinos from a low-income area. The College Board denied the allegation and proposed having the 14 students retake the test.

Twelve of the 14 agreed to take another exam, and all passed.

Actor Edward James Olmos portrayed Escalante in "Stand and Deliver."

"I don't know one pope, I don't know one engineer, I don't know one sports giant, I don't know one astronaut that could have done it without a teacher," Olmos said during the stamp unveiling ceremony. "If it wasn't for teachers, none of us would be where we are today."

The stamp was issued by the U.S. Postal Service during the League of United Latin American Citizens Convention in Washington, D.C.

The stamp depicts Escalante in his signature flat cap, looking forward and standing in front of a chalkboard on which calculus symbols are visible.

The illustration is based on a photograph taken by Escalante's son Jaime II in the classroom at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento where the elder Escalante taught.

Escalante taught at Garfield from 1974-91. He later taught in Sacramento and his native Bolivia. He died on March 30, 2010 at the age of 79 from cancer.

Olmos received a best actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Escalante in "Stand and Deliver."

City News Service contributed to this report.
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