Immigration

Jaime Escalante, RIP

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L.A. has better street murals than you

The famous East L.A. calculus teacher, immortalized by the Edward James Olmos biopic Stand and Deliver, died from bladder cancer yesterday at age 79. The L.A. Times obit hints at what happened in the rest of the story:

He was called a traitor for his opposition to bilingual education. He said the hate mail he received for championing Proposition 227, the successful 1998 ballot measure to dismantle bilingual programs in California, was a factor in his decision to retire that year after leaving Garfield and teaching at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento for seven years. […]

Unpopular with fellow teachers, he won few major teaching awards in the United States. He liked to be judged by his results, a concept still resisted by the majority of his profession.

Much more on Escalante's problems with the education establishment in this classic 2002 Reason piece about the celebrated teacher's "shamefall fall." Excerpt:

It is less well-known that Escalante left Garfield after problems with colleagues and administrators, and that his calculus program withered in his absence. That untold story highlights much that is wrong with public schooling in the United States and offers some valuable insights into the workings—and failings—of our education system. […]

Calculus grew so popular at Garfield that classes grew beyond the 35-student limit set by the union contract. Some had more than 50 students. Escalante would have preferred to keep the classes below the limit had he been able to do so without either denying calculus to willing students or using teachers who were not up to his high standards. Neither was possible, and the teachers union complained about Garfield's class sizes. Rather than compromise, Escalante moved on.

[T]here is no inner-city school anywhere in the United States with a calculus program anything like Escalante's in the '80s. A very successful program rapidly collapsed, leaving only fragments behind.

Whole thing here.

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  1. What is cal-COO-liss?

    1. A film and life-story one carries in one’s memory forever. Jaime Escalante: a real AMERICAN HERO! And all these years later in our family–we still very fondly–say,”What is Ca-coo-lis?” Jaime Escalante taught us all! We grieve his loss.

  2. A very successful program rapidly collapsed, leaving only fragments behind.

    R.I.P. Our condolences to the family.

    1. And then the fragments were swept up and placed in the compost heap of history.

  3. How do I reeech theeese cheeeldren?

    1. I looked, saw 84 comments, and said “there is no way someone hasn’t quoted Cartman yet.”

    2. …Ah, close enough.

  4. 1 Jaime Escalante > 1,000 Education Reform “Experts.”

    Truth.

  5. Publicly funded K-12 education, yes.

    Government provided K-12 edication, not only no, fuck no.

    Blame the teachers unions, blame the administrators, blame the students and their parents all you want. The underlying problem is a government monopoly.

    Vouchers, redeemable at any school,* for every child** in America aged 5-18 is my not so humble proposal..

    * The Ayn Rand Objectivist Middle School and the Fundie Baptist Creationist Prep Academy are both eligible.

    ** Every child. Citizenship of his/her parents will not be investigated.

    1. The Ayn Rand Objectivist Middle School and the Fundie Baptist Creationist Prep Academy are both eligible.

      Can I send my kids to both?

      1. I don’t know… The Ayn Rand School for Tots didn’t work out so well.

        1. Really, I thought it worked out just fine.

          1. Like any school, it was an authoritarian hell. It did its job by encouraging ingenuity and mutual cooperation in order for each individual to get what they wanted. I would send a kid there.

        2. It was the only kiddie academy not under investigation by the state!

          1. Malk…..now with Vitamin R!

  6. Berkeley High’s idea for closing the “achievement gap?” Cut science labs.

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/…..id=1536705

    Berkeley High May Cut Out Science Labs
    The proposal would trade labs seen as benefiting white students for resources to help struggling students.

    Bonus classical unintended consequences example:

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/…..id=1668684

    Liquor Tax Hammers Local Brewers
    A tax designed to make “cheerleader beer” and “alcopops” too expensive for teens has instead hurt local craft-beer makers.

    1. To get your anger flowing:

      Although these upscale artisan beers are marketed to adults, they’re now subject to the hefty tax originally meant for cheap alcopops.

      And the tax is considerable. The standard beer tax in California runs 20 cents per gallon sold within the state. But under the changed rules, the state treats barrel-aged beers as if they were hard liquor and taxes them at a rate of $3.30 per gallon.

      1. Board of Equalization

        What the Fuck?

          1. What is with the name though? Why not Board of Tax Collection?

            1. Sounds like somebody needs to brush up his Orwell.

              1. Sounds like somebody needs to brush up his Orwell.

                Exact opposite, I wondered why they are stealing from Orwell.

            2. It’s a good question, actually.

              They call it the BoE …

              Because that’s what tax collection is to them. It’s “equalization”.

      2. Works out to 50 cents per pint in CA tax.

    2. How ironic that your post ended up right next to the Lagunitas ad.

      1. It is an omen, indicating that we need another beer thread soon.

        1. I think it’s also an omen that I need another beer soon. I’m thinking my local brewpub is a good call for lunch.

          1. Hmmmm….Im trying to finish off a homebrewed RyePA to open up keg space.

            1. You know, I’m generally not a huge hophead but for some reason most of the hop bombs I really like are brewed with rye. In fact, the only IPA I’ve ever brewed was a black RyePA (or “India black ale with rye” if you’re one of THOSE types) with a touch of peat-smoked malt and it was awesome.

              1. This ryePA came out not that hoppy. Very orangy/citrusy but the bitterness was subdued. Very tasty but not what I was aiming for. Still not sure what happened.

          2. I’m going on a mission this weekend to find Palm on draft. Any interesting “crisp” pilsners or lighter but hoppy ales you guys can recommend? Bare in mind that I’m in the UK.

            Have been drinking K?ppers K?lsch on tap at my local recently. Quite a nice drop, and a welcome alternative to my usual budvar.

            1. Hmm… When I think pilsners or light but hoppy ales I don’t generally think U.K. I’ve only visited once (a week in Scotland last May) and I pretty much stuck to cask ales. I enjoyed Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted, which has a nice hop kick. Not quite the same as a Pilsner, though.

              1. Thanks dude, will look into those.

    3. Erm… as for the Berkeley High science lab story: bringing the high-achieving students down to the level of everyone else will definitely close the “achievement gap”, so I guess that will work. Really! Why are you looking at me like that?

      1. Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students.

        Did Mr. Gibson also note that scientists wear largely white lab coats?

        We are so screwed.

      2. Pay them no mind. Some people just hate equality.

    4. If it’s getting to expensive to work in California, I’ll offer Stone Brewery the opportunity to convert my house into a brewery. I won’t even charge rent, except for unlimited free beer.

  7. WHAT?! Publicly funded education?!!!
    Why you, you, reasonable-compromise-with-a-workable-plan-in-the-real-world guy you!!!
    (Shakes fist. Mutters about Kochtopus.)

  8. Government provided K-12 edication

    Would you like a refund?

    1. Alls of us what went to public scool deserv a refund.

      1. Are ur childrin lurning?

  9. A Great Man and a Great Loss.

    True reform of our education system will NEVER occur until the power of the teachers’ unions is curbed. The mantra of just spending more money does not play anymore.

    More money by itself does not produce better results. Unfortunately, the money never reaches the kids and in fact just ends up in the union coffers & the politicians they bribe.

  10. Rest in peace Mr. Escalante. High exacting standards, discipline, and tough love beat the daylights of phony compassion and mushy bullcrap every day of the week. Always have, and always will.

    1. Nailed it.

  11. RIP.

    I remember my AP Calculus teacher showing Stand and Deliver to us early in the school year (this was when I was in 12th grade). I guess the message he was trying to send to us was “if these kids can do it, you can too”. The amazing thing is… it actually worked.

    Also, to echo what others have talked about above, I’m displeased that I’m likely going to end up paying for public schools via taxes AND paying the $ to send my daughter to a private school once she’s old enough. But I just can’t send her into the public school system, even though the schools she’d go to are considered to be “good” ones.

    1. To every parent of a child in private school who complains of “paying twice”, I offer a hearty FUCK YOU.

      I have NO children, yet still pay into the system, for the same reason you do: So I can live in a country mostly populated by literate people who have at least been exposed to a smattering of basic math and civics.

      How many kids you choose to educate on your own dime is irrelevant to the fact that you have to kick in with the rest of us.

      1. It’s unsaid but obvious that if parents should be able to opt out of the system, non-parents should certainly be able to as well…

      2. Meanwhile, I get to send my kids to private school on your dime, Tara… AND get rid of a DC voucher system that sent poor kids to private schools. Who cares if the poor kids were improving? It’s all about the unions, baby!

      3. I have NO children, yet still pay into the system, for the same reason you do: So I can live in a country mostly populated by literate people who have at least been exposed to a smattering of basic math and civics.

        Also no kids. That is NOT the reason I pay in to the system. I pay to avoid going to jail. So FUCK YOU.

        1. And may I add, Tara is a fuckwad. May she die a painful death choking on Obama’s cum

      4. Hey, if you want to pay for the crap education that they’re doling out, then that’s your problem. And if you feel that strongly about it, why don’t you pay extra?

      5. Tara sounds like a product of public schools.

      6. I don’t mind paying taxes for education, because education is so deeply critical to a functioning modern society.

        Having said that, I deeply resent the fact that I’m paying more and more every year to teachers who are wasting more and more time brainwashing the children with B.S. like corporations are inherently evil and carbon dioxide is going to destroy the planet.

        This garbage is a waste of our precious time and tax dollars, and does absolutely nothing to teach children the things they really need to know to be useful.

      7. How about a hearty fuck you right back? Everybody acts like if we didn’t have compulsory state education that nobody would send their kids to school. Yeah, some dirtbags wouldn’t. Guess what? Some do that now. Most parents, aside from wanting their kids to learn, want the babysitting for 6-8 hours a day, too.

        Ultimately, though, you had the little darlings, they’re your responsibility. Quit stealing from the rest of to finance your lifestyle choices and figure it out.

        1. I’d be happy to bear the responsibility of raising my little darlings without assistance from the state if my little darlings would be absolved of supporting seniors, pensioners, etc. through their social security contributions. (And yes, I realize that you would probably be fine with nixing social security, but my point is that you can just as easily argue that childless citizens are free-riding off of those who provide our society with the next generation of workers).

    2. My 3 kids NEVER set foot in a public school. And got great educations. They have the ability to work and do things. Both my daughters moved out on their own at 19 while most of their friends live with their parents at 26. Taxes, fuck em, get the education.

  12. You’d think that school administrators would hire teachers with an eye towards the traits that made Escalante so successful. But in education, the moment you start to think is when you lose.

  13. The best thing that ever happened to me academically was having a hard-ass Navy-Seal-turned-electrical-engineer-turned-charter-school-teacher as a high-school calculus teacher. The type of guy that would tell the administration to fuck off if there were complaints about his methods. And they did, and he did. I learned more from him than probably all my other high school teachers combined, as whenever I tried to pull typical cocky teenager behavior, he’d bitchslap me back to work. Why our government is actively trying to keep out the good teachers and replace them with fucking sticker rewarders, I’ll never know. I’d think even they would realize that you can’t reason with teenagers.

    1. But Nino, your self-esteem has suffered greatly. The sad fact is that you are not even aware of it. That’s how pernicious these “standards” and “discipline” ideas are.

      1. The problem is when you get teachers who don’t deserve it demanding the respect of teenagers who are smart enough to know that most of their teachers are idiots, incompetents or just don’t care.
        I don’t believe that teachers deserve respect for being teachers any more than cops deserve respect for being cops.

        1. That’s a factor too, but you also have to realize that teenagers have a vested interest in thinking their teachers are idiots, and the slightest evidence in favor of that proposition will be all they need. If you spend 50 minutes solving linear system after linear system on the board and make one sign mistake during that time, they consider you an incompetent who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

          Though yes, I agree that there are a lot of teachers who are utterly unqualified to be teaching the subject they are.

          1. You have a point, but isn’t Escalante evidence that a high school teacher can earn deserved respect?

    2. “Why our government is actively trying to keep out the good teachers and replace them with fucking sticker rewarders, I’ll never know”

      You just answered your own question. School administrators don’t want independent teachers they can’t control. It makes their job harder. But from what I recall from high school almost any teacher I had who was any good WAS an independent teacher the administration couldn’t control.

      1. Agreed. The two of the three best teachers I had in high school were always butting heads with the administration. One was eventually run off. The other tried retiring and getting his job back and wasn’t rehired. Serves him right.

        The third teacher only had one lecture. He issued our books, told us to work every problem in it, and spent the rest of the year talking about turkey hunting.

    3. I had a high-school teacher like that, too.

      One day before class a student wrote on the blackboard “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.” The teacher walked in, saw it, and told the class that if the culprit did not erase it in ten seconds, he (teacher) would find out and use the student’s shirt, with him wearing it, to erase it himself.

      The student complied.

      1. Real champion of free speech, that.

      2. More to the point: It’s funny to hear the same people who bitch about how stupid and incompetent teachers are, imply that they should be allowed to manhandle the students (or at least threaten to do so) at their whim. For every tough as nails Navy Seal who justly exercises his authority to do so, there is going to be an incompetent mental midget who does it essentially at random.

        1. That is where judgement comes in.

          We bitch about zero tolerance for the same reason.

      3. If the little darlings had read about game theory and the Prisoner’s Dilemma, then they would have gotten off scot free!

      4. “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach; those that cannot do or teach, administrate!”

        RIP, Mr. Escalante – you were a pioneer who will be remembered.

  14. A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.

  15. There has been a fairly dramatic increase in the number of privately educated children – either at private schools or homeschooled. In the U.S. you have the option to opt out of the American education system, and that is what parents are doing.

    1. Unfortunately, many don’t have the resources, especially considering that they are forced to pay for public schools.

      1. So who should pay for public schools, if not taxpayers?

        If you want to talk about privatizing education completely, I’m on board, so long as we come up with a means to ensure some kind of baseline education for children of the poor, lest we end up with a permanent hereditary underclass.

        1. We’re getting the latter already, Tara. That’s what public schools are for, after all.

        2. So who should pay for public schools, if not taxpayers?

          The parents of the students going to them. Public != free. Public means available to all.

        3. If you want to talk about privatizing education completely, I’m on board, so long as we come up with a means to ensure some kind of baseline education for children of the poor, lest we end up with a permanent hereditary underclass.

          See JsubD’s post at 10:12. It doesnt privatize completely but does a much better job of preventing said underclass.

        4. Tara – see my proposal below (or Jsub’s above). What about “school stamps” for the poor, with all schools privately operated and with full parental choice?

        5. personally I don’t believe in the public education system, at least the way it currently exists. schools could be funded on the local level by having parents pay fees and by doing raffles, lotteries, rent out their facilities when not in use, run a student restaurant, high school sporting event ticket sales and booster clubs, privately funded school bands, put an optional box on local taxes to donate money to the school, etc., etc.
          now you can argue whether these are proper roles of government or not, but my point is you can fund a school voluntarily without resorting to coercion and theft. you could also have the school be run by a private nonprofit community organization that uses some or all of the above fundraising methods.

        6. I have two words for you: Chris Christie

          Choke on them bitch

    2. Um, until I can stop paying my property taxes, I DO NOT have the option to opt out of the American education system.

    3. But, unfortunately, one does not have the option to not have to *pay* for public education.

      1. Damn, not quick enough…

      2. -1 for not regurgitating the libertarian talking points quickly enough. Your punishment is to go disrupt the conversation at progressive blogs by posting this talking point there.

        1. “Your punishment is to go disrupt the conversation at progressive blogs by posting this talking point there.”
          Unintended irony or comedy gold? I’m going with the former. (Which means it works as the latter, too!)

        2. So which talking point did YOU blow it on dipshit?

  16. I think Jsub’s plan is probably the way to go.
    Ironically, I’m reminded of something Tony said on a thread yesterday, comparing health care to food stamps.
    If all this stuff was about was helping the poor and less fortunate, why not just “food stamp” all these “problems.”?
    Education vouchers, health care vouchers, food stamps — provide the resource and get out of the way for the market to find the best solution. Or better yet, flat cash payments to the poor, no strings attached, a la Friedman’s negative income tax.
    Not a perfect libertarian solution, but a huge step in the right direction.
    But none of this is really about helping the poor, is it?

    1. And of course, neither the right nor left would trust the poor to spend the money “correctly.”

      1. I wouldn’t either, but I also wouldn’t give a shit when they spent it all on big screens, kicks, and a few 40s.

    2. Economists on both the left and right (ss much as you can apply those labels to economists) generally agree that cash payments to the poor improve their lot more than an equal amount of directed vouchers.

      It turns out the poor know better what they need than some pointy headed bureaucrat in Lansing or D.C.

      I’m no dreamer who thinks that every impoverished family will make wise decisions on what to spend the money on, I’m instead convinced that in the aggregate, the poor will make better decisions than the lawmakers and bureaucrats (who can move on to productive wealth generating employment).

      As perverse as the negative income tax seems at first glance, properly applied (earn $100 lose $50 in government cash) it would be an inprovement over what we have now. The EITC is an existing example of this line of thinking.

    1. Wow…such a glib eulogy.

      1. And a dishonest one, too. You know anonbot is just waiting for the Robot uprising so it can take out some of us hateful meatlings.

      2. He’s a bot. And even if he wasn’t, he doesn’t have the time for deep feeling.

      3. I like this Lou Greeno guy. Better than Jess Beano.

  17. I’m working within the system. Last semester my daughter asked her science teacher what the cost of global warming was. Then she followed up with a question about how much it would cost to implement Cap and Trade.

    She said he was flummoxed by the whole idea of cost benefit analysis. She warned me that I might be getting a call from the teacher.

    Never got the call, but I was sure proud of her.

    1. Liar. The Pope doesn’t even have a daughter.

      1. That he knows of. 🙂

      2. Tulpa,

        I belong to the old school of Pope’s. Think concubines, mistresses & bribery.

        I’m not one of these new fangled Popes that wastes all my authority on protecting my priests from deaf kids (who everyone knows are just asking for it).

  18. …Edward James Olmos biopic Stand and Deliver…

    always makes me think of Adam and the Ants, which may be unfortunate.

  19. Had Mr Escalante speak at my high school a few years after the movie came out but before he retired. I’m a bit surprised at the bilingual ed conflict, because the one thing I remember from his speech is that he stressed the importance speaking foreign languages in what he saw correctly as a workforce on the cusp of entering a gloabl economy.

    Que en paz descanse, Se?or Professor.

    1. I imagine there’s a difference between learning a second language and “bilingual education” as defined by the California educational bureaucracy.

    2. The problem with bilingual ed was that it encouraged Spanish speakers to remain monolingual. So his opposition is totally consistent with your story.

      1. Good points, both of you.

      2. The problem with bilingual ed was that it encouraged Spanish speakers to remain monolingual.

        No, it’s far worse than that. It’s segregation.

        -jcr

  20. Movies about teachers, professors, or rich whiny prep school kids suck ass.

    1. I’ll see you after class.

      1. I rather enjoyed “Stand and Deliver” and “Good Will Hunting.” I also liked “Finding Forrester” even though that was a lot like “Good Will Hunting.”

        1. But with swords!

        2. At least they don’t contain Helen Hunt.

          1. Nobody can contain Helen Hunt.

        3. I rather enjoyed “Stand and Deliver” and “Good Will Hunting.”

          (Hugs Art)
          “It’s not your fault.”

          “It’s not your fault.”

          “It’s not your fault.”

          1. Ah, Dr. Rosenpenis.

    2. Even though it’s dated, I think you might enjoy The Children’s Hour, if only for the idea of Audrey Hepburn as part of a threesome.

  21. . . . 35-student limit set by the union contract.

    I can’t get past that phrase without dying a little inside.

    1. Classes with more than 35 kids can easily turn into a zoo and you end up spending more time on discipline than on the subject at hand. This class size isn’t as much of an issue for dictator-teachers (which I was). When you bring unions into the picture, you lose all flexibility, and every teacher is forced to run their class according to the weaknesses of the weakest teacher on staff.

      1. That last sentence pretty much sums up the modern union in my view.

  22. Crap – I wish I’d remembered this anecdote earlier. I was a grader on standardized tests for a while, and on one, a fourth grader mis-spelled “count”. He omitted the “o”.

    I showed it to the woman next to me and said “I sure hope they don’t send him to the spelling bee”.

    1. Measurement, Inc?

      I worked there for awhile in the 90’s after I burned out on DC.

  23. If you want to see a a Fascist entity in action just look at the California School system.

  24. If you guys want to read an enlightening, uplifting, and still depressing book about our education system, I suggest “The Underground History of American Education” by John Taylor Gatto. If memory serves me, Gatto was a Teacher in New York struggling against the rusting machinery of the education leviathan to forge independent students, instead of the mindless t.v. watching drones most of us become (myself included). One of the most striking facts from the book that still bothers me is that our education system is, at its heart, based off of oppressive Prussian military instruction designed to create a bunch of mindless soldiers. No wonder so many Americans accept so many things at face value, or fail to think about the implications of any action.

    You can read the book for free here:

    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm

  25. Citizen Nothing|3.31.10 @ 10:54AM|#

    I think Jsub’s plan is probably the way to go.
    Ironically, I’m reminded of something Tony said on a thread yesterday, comparing health care to food stamps.
    If all this stuff was about was helping the poor and less fortunate, why not just “food stamp” all these “problems.”?
    Education vouchers, health care vouchers, food stamps — provide the resource and get out of the way for the market to find the best solution. Or better yet, flat cash payments to the poor, no strings attached, a la Friedman’s negative income tax.
    Not a perfect libertarian solution, but a huge step in the right direction.
    But none of this is really about helping the poor, is it?

    Here is the real problem with that even though it could have the positive effect of reducing the government payroll, it does morph into middle class entitlements because of one common condition. Everyone is poor in their twenties.

    Someone here noted yesterday their moochy kid sister who has been treading the ‘in school’ beat for sometime had him and his wife over for dinner. In spite of her life style choices, she was able to feed them a first class dinner with ingredients coming from an upscale market. She was able to do this because she is on food stamps.

    When we were growing up and were poor twenty something middle class kids, we had every incentive to improve our condition by working hard and not making poor life style choices like seeking out degrees in useless shit, gender studies to name an obvious one, or in more rarefied fields that are useful but you don’t have any real talent to accomplish anything meaningful in.

    When everything, education, health care, food subsidy, is on the voucher plan, than all traditional incentives to get your ass off the couch and really think things through go out the window.

    Though it would dampen the socially destructive trend of public employment, it exacerbates the other socially destructive trend of creating a dependency class.

    If this trend is not stopped or if measures are not put in place like having means testing based on the income of the parents and families of those who seek out these programs, you can say goodbye to any concept of a middle class that sustains this nation and the high level of expectations in human accomplishment that we take for granted as our birthright.

    I have given one possible way to avoid this problem, but I doubt it would be a politically popular solution in the least, as too many people love their middle class entitlements.

  26. My memorable teacher was Mr. Cousins, who, as our science teacher, was kind of like Escalante. He got our attention with elongated blue flames from Bunsen Burners or causing unexpected eruptions from lab experiments. The things I learned from him?..I still apply them today in everyday life. I think that today’s date shall go forever down for teachers. They should take a moment of silence all over the world every year on this date to honor and make a vow to try to echo his work ? no matter how harried they may be in their jobs or how bad their home lives may be. After all, they ? like Escalante ? got into it in the first place to nurture the future.

  27. Escalante was right. California’s “bilingual education” scam is nothing but a way for liberal racists to segregate the mexicans away from the white kids, by pretending to care about them.

    -jcr

  28. He was brave, and his legacy lives on in his students.

    He gives me courage to resist the teacher bullies at my school, and serve my students half as well as he did.

  29. From Belgium:
    Jaime, you are my role model. Your legacy will live on in teachers’ hearts the world over and in students’ beliefs, that yes, they can. Despite the establishment’s efforts, you are the clear winner and for every one that reads your story, you keep creating winners. You were brave and wonderful. May we all have some of your courage, strength of convictions and passion. Respectfully,
    MgmP

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