Saturday, April 03, 2010

What ever happened to Jaime Escalante?

Andrew Coulson (who I'm proud to say has been a friend since childhood) has written an excellent WSJ editorial arguing for a return to a private market in education. Here's the beginning, but be sure to read the whole thing.
Jaime Escalante, the brilliant public school teacher immortalized in the 1988 film, "Stand and Deliver," died this week at the age of 79. With the help of a few dedicated colleagues at Garfield High in East Los Angeles, he shattered the myth that poor inner-city kids couldn't handle advanced math. At the peak of its success, Garfield produced more students who passed Advanced Placement calculus than Beverly Hills High.

In any other field, his methods would have been widely copied. Instead, Escalante's success was resented. And while the teachers union contract limited class sizes to 35, Escalante could not bring himself to turn students away, packing 50 or more into a room and still helping them to excel. This weakened the union's bargaining position, so it complained.

By 1990, Escalante was stripped of his chairmanship of the math department he'd painstakingly built up over a decade. Exasperated, he left in 1991, eventually returning to his native Bolivia. Garfield's math program went into a decline from which it has never recovered. The best tribute America can offer Jaime Escalante is to understand why our education system destroyed rather than amplified his success—and then fix it.


Blogger ACH said...

I have enjoyed Andrew Coulson's education articles over the years. His book, Market Education, is an incredible asset for defenders of a free-market approach to education. My main criticism is that he rarely defends his stance from an ethical foundation. Unfortunately he also seems to be supportive of vouchers, which are still dependent on taxes. That being said, I still recommend his work often. I just wonder how many minds he has changed with his approach.

Aquinas Heard

10:18 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Thanks for sharing.

Based upon your recommendation, I posted my own review and commentary on his op-ed.

8:27 PM  

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