OBITS: Former LAT staffer Jay Mathews wrote Escalante's 1988 biography. He now writes at the same newspaper that investigated charges of Garfield students cheating Advanced Placement calculus exams.
Retesting is a standard option for AP exams when results are questioned. What would have happened if the Garfield students had not followed Escalante's suggestion to give it another try? Many people would have assumed that the school's success was bogus, that the children of seamstresses and day laborers were incapable of mastering something as difficult as calculus.
Teachers at other schools would not have been inspired to give low-income students extra time and encouragement to learn. I would not have one of my favorite statistics: In 1987, 27 percent of all Mexican Americans who scored 3 or higher on the calculus AP exam were students at Garfield High.
Jaime Escalante, the math teacher portrayed in "Stand and Deliver," died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Escalante died at 2:27 p.m. at the home of his son, Jaime Jr., in Roseville, Calif., said actor Edward James Olmos, who protrayed Escalante in the film. [LAT] [LAO]