After the events of summer 1982, when Jaime Escalante's Advanced Placement Calculus students were accused of cheating and then vindicated on a re-test, Escalante had become famous first in local and then national news. The original story about an American institution, ETS, allegedly discriminating based on race to accuse the latino students of cheating, turned into a story of surprise and applause as an "academic sinkhole" like Garfield High managed to have such a large number of students taking AP Calculus.
The events of 1982 inspired a film about Jaime Escalante, Stand and Deliver, which spread his fame to an even wider audience. But the film came too early. In the years following 1982, calculus at Garfield High continuedto grow with the same momentum, reaching ever greater heights. After the 18 students taking the exam in 1982, there were 33 in 1983, a whopping 68 in 1984 (more than double the previous year!), and two years later, in 1986, a staggering 151 students took the test, more than eight times as many as in the year that brought Escalante fame.
While AP Calculus was in overdrive, other AP programs also began to thrive. Garfield High now offered Advanced Placement courses in History, English, Biology, Physics, French, Government, and Computer Science, with a growing number of students taking these year on year.
Within twelve years, Garfield High had transformed from a gang-ridden hole on the brink of being shut down, to an academic beacon with a waiting list of 400 students. It is truly a story worth telling.
Enjoy the episode.