Jaime Escalante is a mathematics teacher in a school in a Hispanic neighbourhood. Convinced that his students have potential, he adopts unconventional teaching methods help gang members and no-hopers pass the rigorous Advanced Placement exam in calculus. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
Back when I was the age of these kids that Jaime Escalante taught I wish I had a math teacher who could have made it as interesting and challenging as he did for the barrio kids he taught in East Los Angeles's Garfield High School.
Stand and Deliver is one of the best films of the Eighties and one of the most inspiring I've ever seen. Anyone who could get kids fired up about algebra and calculus as Edward James Olmos as Jaime Escalante did has my undying respect.
Olmos is one of those rare teachers whose very presence in the lives of his students makes them change. So many I had back in the day were just time serving bureaucrats, little better than clerks who took attendance. Of course I had some good ones too, but not in mathematics, I was kind of hopeless in that subject.
But something that I didn't realize about math then, but that Olmos says and Stand and Deliver emphasizes is that math is the great equalizer. There's no cultural bias in math, no interpretative spins on it, you either know it and do it or you don't. It does help to develop the gray cells, no doubt about it.
The Mexican-American kids he teaches in Garfield High School have it in their minds they'll be filling station attendants, fast food cooks, or day laborers, striving for better is not something they think about. More than teaching them math skills, we are shown how Olmos makes them believe in themselves and their potential. It's certainly a better life lesson than anything else. I doubt any of Escalante's kids at parties do quadratic equations for entertainment.
Lou Diamond Phillips has a supporting role in this film which was made earlier than his breakout role in La Bamba, but released later. Of course his billing was adjusted as befit his new star status. He's very good as the kid who makes a deal with Olmos for three textbooks, one for home, one for class, and one for his locker just so his image among his home boys is kept secure. After all as Olmos says, we wouldn't want anyone to get the idea you're really smart.
Rosanna DeSoto who was LDP's mother in La Bamba is Olmos's wife in Stand and Deliver, loyal and supportive. Other good performances are from Carmen Argenziano as Olmos's supportive school principal and of the kids besides Phillips, you will love young Vanessa Marquez.
Andy Garcia and Rif Hutton play a couple of educators from the Educational Testing Service, read Standardized Aptitude Test (SAT) who can't quite believe what Olmos has accomplished with these barrio kids. Has to be something wrong here. You have to see the film to see what comes out of their questioning Olmos's competence and integrity.
Edward James Olmos was nominated for Best Actor in 1988. Unfortunately he was up against a singularly unique performance by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. The real Jaime Escalante no longer teaches in the USA. A few years ago Escalante went back to Bolivia to give back a little to the people from where he came. That's entirely in keeping with the character of this man that Stand and Deliver tells the story of.
One of the most inspirational films ever made, don't ever miss it when broadcast.
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