04 March 2010

Students Now Stand 4 Famous Math Teacher in Stand and Deliver Movie

Actor Edward James Olmos, left, and Teacher Jaime Escalante, right, whose life story was featured in the movie "Stand and Deliver"

From Denny: "Stand and Deliver" is one famous movie from 1988 of one man who stood up against a defeatist attitude educational - and expectational - system to help his students rise out of poverty. He taught them how to rise out of poverty thinking on many levels.

He was their inspirational spiritual coach as much as their math teacher. His students excelled in the nation's toughest college entrance math exam in algebra and calculus. It was previously thought that higher math could not be learned by lower income kids in Los Angeles at Garfield High School. This teacher, who left the lucrative space industry to teach in the projects, proved them all wrong. His kids went on to successful lives because of him.

His name is Jaime Escalante and he is now age 79, suffering from what may be incurable bladder cancer as doctors have given him only a few months to live. His former students are coming to his aid, since the cancer has drained all his financial resources. So far they have raised $19,000.

There is a direct appeal from the famous Hollywood actor, Edward James Olmos, who played the teacher in the movie. To donate to Escalante's Health Fund, go here.

This has long been one of my favorite movies because it is such an extraordinary act of love and dedication from this man for his students. If you have never watched it, please rent it today. You will be inspired and amazed.

Even as ill as he is, Jaime Escalante says he is not giving up. Even though he is weak from the treatments he still pitches his teaching, "I came up with one idea: you don't count how many times you are on the floor. You count how many times you get up." What a strong spirit; what a class act.

Jaime Escalante devoted his life to honoring and cultivating the best in others. A man who gave so much of himself in service to the next generation should not have to worry about bankruptcy in his old age from health care bills. This an example of why we need health care reform today.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

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