Jaime Escalante, the Los Angeles high school teacher whose breakthrough mentoring of inner-city youth was immortalized in the movie Stand and Deliver, died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 79. Escalante died at his son’s home in Roseville, California. He gained national fame in 1982, when 14 of his students at Garfield High School passed the Advanced Placement test for calculus and were promptly accused of cheating. The kids were exonerated, and six years later, the film about them and their Bolivian immigrant educator hit theaters. Teachers came from across the U.S. to study the methods of Escalante, who wasn’t popular with his public school colleagues but loved by his mostly Mexican-American students for his entertaining style. "His passionate belief [was] that all students, when properly prepared and motivated, can succeed at academically demanding course work, no matter what their racial, social or economic background,” Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, which sponsors the Advanced Placement exam, told the Los Angeles Times. “Because of him, educators everywhere have been forced to revise long-held notions of who can succeed."
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