A Tribute to Jaime Escalante, Master Teacher

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This WSJ article is an excellent tribute to Jaime Escalante who recently died in his native country of Bolivia.

Some highlights:

Jaime Escalante, the brilliant public school teacher immortalized in the 1988 film, “Stand and Deliver,” …[taught] at Garfield High in East Los Angeles.  [H]e 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.

… 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.

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.

Consider the Kumon chain of after-school tutoring centers. Founded in 1954 by Japanese math teacher Toru Kumon, it now serves more than four million students in 42 countries. …[T]op teachers in Korea’s tutoring sector earn big salaries and have virtual class sizes in the scores of thousands.

Unleash the freedoms and incentives of the marketplace, so teachers like Escalante become the Steve jobs or Bill Gates of education, profiting from their exceptional ability to serve our children.

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