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Jaime Escalante being treated for cancer

Jaime Escalante, the Los Angeles math teacher who turned me into an education writer, is in Reno getting treatment for cancer, his wife Fabiola told me today. I didn't ask her too many questions, but since she is still in Bolivia and he is in Nevada, I am going to assume that he has some time to deal with this as he has dealt with everything else, straight ahead.

Escalante turned 79 last New Year's Eve. When my book about him, and more importantly the film "Stand and Deliver" came out in 1988, he was the most famous teacher in America, and as my book title said, the best. The year before, 27 percent of all Mexican American students in the country who passed the AP Calculus AB exam were students at Garfield High School in East L.A., where Escalante and his protege, Ben Jimenez, were the calculus teachers.

His story created a national surge in efforts to challenge impoverished students. There are many examples of his influence in Washington area schools such as Columbia Heights in D.C. or Wakefield in Arlington or Springbrook in Montgomery County, where teachers have taken students who used to be overlooked to new levels of achievement.

I haven't been able to reach Escalante directly yet, but when I do I will provide an update.

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By Jay Mathews  | March 2, 2010; 6:13 PM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Escalante has cancer, Jaime Escalante, Stand and Deliver  
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"A national surge"? Yeah, right.

Posted by: allenm1 | March 3, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully he gets through this difficult challenge.

Escalante, by far, was one of the best educators I've had the pleasure of reading about.

Please keep us posted Mathews.

Posted by: TwoSons | March 5, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

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