Stand and Deliver

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Stand and Deliver
Stand and deliver.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRamón Menéndez
Written by
  • Ramón Menéndez
  • Tom Musca
Produced byTom Musca
CinematographyTom Richmond
Edited byNancy Richardson
Music byCraig Safan
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • February 13, 1988 (1988-02-13) (Miami)
  • March 11, 1988 (1988-03-11) (United States)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
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 a high school mathematics 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 won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature in 1988. The film's title refers to the 1987 Mr. Mister song of the same name, which is also featured in the film's end credits.

In 2011, the film was deemed "culturally historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.


In the early 1980s, Jaime Escalante becomes a mathematics teacher at James A. Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. The school is full of Latino 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 take 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 of this. As they struggle with the lower expectations that they face in society, Escalante works hard to teach and encourage them, and they pass the AP Calculus exam.

To the dismay of both Escalante and the students, 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, despite having only a day to prepare.


Historical accuracy[edit]

The film is accurate in that students in Escalante's class had to retake the test, and all who retook the test passed.

The movie gives the impression that the incident occurred in the second year Escalante was teaching, after students from his first year took a summer session for the calculus prerequisites. In fact, 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, and it was in 1982 that the exam incident occurred. In the first year (1978), only five students remained in the course at the end of the year, only two of whom passed the AP Calculus exam.[4] 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."[5] In 1987, 27% of all Mexican Americans who scored 3 or higher on the AP Calculus exam were students at Garfield High.[6]

Escalante himself described the film as "90% truth, 10% drama". He said 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.

Ten of the 1982 students signed waivers to allow the College Board to show their exams 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.[6] Twelve students, including the nine with the identical mistakes, retook the exam, and most of them received the top 4 and 5 scores. Mathews concluded that nine of the students did cheat, but they knew the material and did not need to.

Mathews wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the Ana Delgado character "was the only teenage character in the film based on a real person"[7] and that her name had been changed.


On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie currently holds a score of 83% from 23 reviews.[8] Metacritic has given the film a score of 77 based on 11 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Academy Awards Best Actor Edward James Olmos Nominated [10]
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama [11]
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Lou Diamond Phillips
Independent Spirit Awards Best Feature Tom Musca Won [12]
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.[13] 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."[13]

The film is recognized by the American Film Institute as #86 on its 2006 AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers list.[14]

In 2016, the United States Postal Service issued a 1st Class Forever "Jaime Escalante" stamp to honor "the East Los Angeles teacher whose inspirational methods led supposedly 'unteachable' high school students to master calculus."

In 2012 Kentucky Senator Rand Paul used the plot in two speeches on immigration, plagiarising his words from the movie’s Wikipedia page.[15]

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. ^ Woo, Elaine (2010-03-31). "Jaime Escalante dies at 79; math teacher who challenged East L.A. students to 'Stand and Deliver'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  5. ^ Jesness, Jerry (July 2002). "Stand and Deliver Revisited". Reason. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  6. ^ a b Mathews, Jay (2009-09-14). "Retest D.C. Classes That Had Dubious Exam Results in '08". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  7. ^ Mathews, Jay (2010-04-04). "Lessons For a Lifetime". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  8. ^ "Stand and Deliver (1988)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  9. ^ "Stand and Deliver Reviews". Metacritic.
  10. ^ "THE 61ST ACADEMY AWARDS - 1989". Academy Awards. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1989". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  12. ^ "32 Years of Nominees & Winners, 1986-2017" (PDF). Independent Spirit Awards. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  13. ^ a b "2011 National Film Registry More Than a Box of Chocolates". Library of Congress. December 28, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  14. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  15. ^ Peters, Jeremy W. (2013-10-31). "Senator Rand Paul Is Accused of Plagiarizing His Lines From Wikipedia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-23.

External links[edit]