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In the movie “Stand and Deliver,” the story of Jaime Escalante who taught at the inner city school of Garfield High in East Los Angeles was brought to the big screen. Mr. Escalante was a teacher who believed that every student could learn if given the right motivation. His successes and hardships were dramatized through the use of this film. During the 1980s, Escalante, a role model for many of us that were in education classes at that time, took a group of low functioning unsuccessful students and taught them calculus. He was at a poor public school that received none of the funding or benefits of the richer private schools; yet, he successfully taught and had many of his students pass the AP Calculus test. As we see in the movie, the state questioned the validity of the testing and insisted that the students retake the test. His methods were unconventional and this got a lot of teachers and administrators angry. His style of meeting the student’s needs and demanding 100% participation in his program were a bit too much for many to agree with. He went these kids’ homes, had them in his home and became involved on a personal level. It is questionable as to whether or not his methods would work in most communities. If I started going into my student’s homes and demanding that they stay after school, come in early, and follow my program without question I would probably be fired in today’s educational systems.
I'm a High School World Language teacher in Connecticut, and I have done this job for 35 years. The conditions shown on this film, the teacher attitudes of blaming the student's socio-economic background for their failures, the funding going to well to do schools while denying aid to needy communities, the touchy-feelie self-esteeem fiends, those who maintain that minority kids can not learn, the blaming of the parents, etc., all these situations still exist not only in California where the film took place but right here in my town in Connecticut and in many places around the country. Now you have to add NCLB, administrators teching techers how to teach, the warm embrace of educationalese theories by the state educational agencies, bandwaggonism of tired ideas of teaching and learning and the bad ecomomy, to exacerbate these conditions. The school authorities who must have watched this film, learned absolutely nothing from it. Some things never change. Escalante had to leave due to many reasons, specially pressure by school administrators just like in my school system where Teachers of the Year, costumarily leave after just one year of being chosen T.O.T.Y.
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