Jaime Escalante

Granite Bay, CA | Years Taught: 1954 – 1998

Jaime was born in La Paz, Bolivia, to two teachers who worked in a small Aymara Indian village. After 9 years of teaching in Bolivia, Escalante moved to the United States and worked as a busboy, a cook, and an electronics factory technician while earning teaching credentials and a degree in mathematics. He is the host of an instructional television series on PBS, “Futures,”which introduces students to a variety of math and science-based careers. It is the most popular classroom program in the history of PBS and has been honored with more than 50 awards from educational and professional organizations, including the highest honor in the broadcasting field, the George Foster Peabody Award. A 1988 book, Escalante: The Best Teacher in America, provided an account of his life. The 1988 film Stand and Deliver illustrated his 1982 struggle. His students tested so high in the rigorous Advanced Placement exams that they were suspected of cheating by the Educational Testing Service, which didn’t believe that poor barrio students had the ability to pass any college- level test. He believes in helping students find in themselves a desire that must emerge from within, which allows them to overcome all barriers.

Additional Recognition

  • 1998 • Honorary Doctor of Humane letters
  • 1998 • Free Spirit Award Freedom Forum
  • 1998 • Andres Bello prize, Organization of American States
  • 1998 • Presidential Medal for Excellence
  • 1990 • Honorary Doctor of Education
  • 1990 • Honorary Doctor of the Humanities
  • 1989 • Honorary Doctor of Science
  • 1989 • Honorary Doctor of Humanities