Legendary East LA teacher Jaime Escalante gets postage stamp in his honor

- A stamp was issued Thursday honoring the late legendary Garfield High School math teacher Jaime Escalante, who used unconventional methods to inspire students to master calculus.

Escalante gained fame in 1982 when 18 of his students at the East Los Angeles school passed the Advanced Placement calculus test. The College Board, which runs the AP program accused 14 students of cheating.

Escalante suspected that the accusation of cheating was due to the fact that the 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 took a different exam from the first and all passed.

The students' success inspired the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver.''

The stamp's 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.

It depicts Escalante wearing his signature flat cap, looking forward toward the viewer, standing in front of a chalkboard on which calculus symbols are visible.

The stamp was issued by the U.S. Postal Service during the League of United Latin American Citizens Convention in Washington, D.C. A special dedication ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Garfield High School. The event is free and open to the public.

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.

"He was a genius in teaching, but he was a saint when it came to empowering students,'' actor Edward James Olmos, who received a best actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Escalante in "Stand and Deliver,'' said
at his funeral.

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