Campus News

Math Pioneer Escalante to Speak at Bowdoin

Story posted February 15, 1998

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Jaime Escalante, the Los Angeles mathematics teacher whose inspirational and unorthodox classroom style became the subject of the 1988 movie "Stand and Deliver," will speak Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center, Bowdoin College.

The lecture is open to the public free of charge. It is sponsored by the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and the Bowdoin College Department of Education.

Escalante taught math and physics in Bolivia for 11 years until 1964, when he immigrated to the United States. He worked in the electronics industry while earning his bachelor's degree in mathematics and earning teaching credentials. He then took a significant pay cut to begin teaching math at Garfield High School in 1974.

Garfield was a school riddled with drugs, gangs and violence. Despite those obstacles, Escalante began to motivate a small group of students to study calculus. In 1982, many of his students took, and passed, the AP calculus exam, only to see their test results invalidated on suspicions of cheating.

Most retook the exam and passed. His methods gained nationwide attention after the release of the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver," starring Edward James Olmos.

Since leaving Garfield to teach in Sacramento, Escalante has created a Peabody Award-winning PBS series on mathematics and a math and science program at East Los Angeles College.

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