Stand and Deliver

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Stand and Deliver
Stand and deliver.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ramón Menéndez
Produced by Tom Musca
Written by
  • Ramón Menéndez
  • Tom Musca
Music by Craig Safan
Cinematography Tom Richmond
Edited by Nancy Richardson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • February 13, 1988 (1988-02-13) (Miami)
  • March 11, 1988 (1988-03-11) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.6 million[1]
Box office $13.9 million[2]

Stand and Deliver is a 1988 American drama film based on the true story of high school math teacher Jaime Escalante. For portraying Escalante, Edward James Olmos was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 61st Academy Awards.[3] The film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2011.


Jaime Escalante becomes a math teacher at James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. The school is full of Hispanic students from working-class families who are far below their grade level in terms of academic skills and also have a lot of social problems. Escalante seeks to change the school culture to help the students excel in academics. He soon realizes the untapped potential of his class and sets a goal of having the students taking AP Calculus by their senior year. Escalante instructs his class under the philosophy of ganas, roughly translating to "desire" or "motivation."

The students begin taking summer classes in advanced mathematics with Escalante, who must withstand the cynicism of the other faculty, who feel that the students are not capable enough. As they struggle with the lower expectations that they face in society, Escalante helps them to overcome adversity and to pass the AP Calculus exams.

To his dismay, the Educational Testing Service questions the success of the students, insisting there is too much overlap in their errors and suggesting the students cheated. Escalante defends his students and feels that the allegations are based more on racial and economic perceptions. He offers to have the students retake the test months later, and the students all succeed in passing the test again, despite only a day to prepare, which ends all concerns of cheating.


Historical accuracy[edit]

Ten of the students signed waivers to allow the College Board to show their exam parts to Jay Mathews, the author of Escalante: The Best Teacher in America. Mathews found that nine of them had made "identical silly mistakes" on free response question 6. Mathews heard from two of the students that during the exam, a piece of paper had been passed around with that flawed solution.[4] Twelve students, including the nine with the identical mistakes, retook the exam, and most of them received the top 4 and 5 scores. In 1987, 27% of all Mexican Americans who scored 3 or higher on the calculus AP exam were students at Garfield High.[5] Mathews wrote in Los Angeles Times that the Ana Delgado character "was the only teenage character in the film based on a real person"[6] and that her name had been changed.

Escalante first began teaching at Garfield High School in 1974 and taught his first AP Calculus course in 1978 with a group of 14 students. Only five students remained in the course at the end of the year, only two of whom passed the AP Calculus exam.[7] Reason stated, "Unlike the students in the movie, the real Garfield students required years of solid preparation before they could take calculus. So Escalante established a program at East Los Angeles College where students could take those classes in intensive seven-week summer sessions. Escalante and [principal Henry] Gradillas were also instrumental in getting the feeder schools to offer algebra in the eighth and ninth grades.[8]

Escalante himself described the film as "90% truth, 10% drama." He stated that several points were left out of the film. He pointed out that no student who did not know multiplication tables or fractions was ever taught calculus in a single year. Also, he suffered inflammation of the gall bladder, not a heart attack.


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards Best Actor Edward James Olmos Nominated [9]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama [10]
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Lou Diamond Phillips
Independent Spirit Awards Best Feature Tom Musca Won [11]
Best Director Ramón Menéndez
Best Male Lead Edward James Olmos
Best Supporting Male Lou Diamond Phillips
Best Supporting Female Rosanna De Soto
Best Screenplay Ramón Menéndez
Tom Musca
Best Cinematography Tom Richmond Nominated


In December 2011, Stand and Deliver was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[12] The Registry said the film was "one of the most popular of a new wave of narrative feature films produced in the 1980s by Latino filmmakers" and that it "celebrates in a direct, approachable, and impactful way, values of self-betterment through hard work and power through knowledge."[12]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

In popular culture[edit]

The episode of South Park entitled "Eek, a Penis!" borrows heavily from the plot of Stand and Deliver, with Cartman assuming a similar role to that played by Edward James Olmos, but in the film, the students were falsely accused of cheating. In the episode, the students actually cheated and got away with it.[15][16]

American senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was accused of plagiarizing near-verbatim portions of the plot summary from the Wikipedia article on Stand and Deliver in two speeches on immigration.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Klady, Leonard (January 8, 1989). "Box Office Champs, Chumps : The hero of the bottom line was the 46-year-old 'Bambi'". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ "Stand and Deliver (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "'Rain Man' Given 8 Oscar Nominations; Sigourney 2 : Hoffman Wins 6th Acting Nod". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "Jay Mathews: Retest D.C. Classes That Had Dubious Exam Results in '08". The Washington Post. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  5. ^ "Jay Mathews: Retest D.C. Classes That Had Dubious Exam Results in '08". The Washington Post. 2009-09-14. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Jay Mathews:Lessons For a Lifetime". Los Angeles Times. 2010-04-04. Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  7. ^ Woo, Elaine (2010-03-31). "Jaime Escalante dies at 79; math teacher who challenged East L.A. students to 'Stand and Deliver' - pp. 1-2". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  8. ^ "Jerry Jesness:Stand and Deliver Revisited". Reason. July 2002. Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  9. ^ "THE 61ST ACADEMY AWARDS - 1989". Academy Awards. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1989". GoldenGlobes,org. Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  11. ^ "32 Years of Nominees & Winners, 1986-2017" (PDF). Independent Spirit Awards. Retrieved 3 September 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "2011 National Film Registry More Than a Box of Chocolates". Library of Congress. December 28, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  13. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  14. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-14. 
  15. ^ "South Park: "Eek, A Penis!"". The A.V. Club. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  16. ^ "South Park: "Eek!, A Penis!" Review". IGN. IGN. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  17. ^ "Rand Paul Has Given Speeches Plagiarized From Wikipedia Before". Buzzfeed. 29 Oct 2013. Retrieved 30 Oct 2013. 
  18. ^ "More Wikipedia copying in Rand Paul Speeches". The Rachel Maddow Show. 29 Oct 2013. Retrieved 30 Oct 2013. 

External links[edit]