Jaime Escalante, who died this week, showed it’s possible to teach advanced math to poor inner-city kids. It should be possible to help great teachers “reach a mass audience,” writes Andrew J. Coulson of the Cato Institute.
At the peak of its success, Garfield produced more students who passed Advanced Placement calculus than Beverly Hills High.
In any other field, his methods would have been widely copied. Instead, Escalante’s success was resented. And while the teachers union contract limited class sizes to 35, Escalante could not bring himself to turn students away, packing 50 or more into a room and still helping them to excel. This weakened the union’s bargaining position, so it complained.
After years building up Garfield High’s math department, Escalante was stripped of the chairmanship. He left the next year, followed by the math teachers he’d recruited and trained.
The best tribute America can offer Jaime Escalante is to understand why our education system destroyed rather than amplified his success — and then fix it.
By contrast, Asian tutoring companies let star teachers reach thousands of students through web broadcasting, Coulson writes. Teachers share the profits.