What Can We Learn from Non-Fiction? QUIZ

Learning Target: What life lessons can be gotten from Non-Fiction?

Please answer / react to the article “Master Teacher, Envious System” and the movie “Stand and Deliver”.

30 point QUIZ: Use both sources please – the article and the movie (NFLX & AMZN) – when answering the 3 questions.

  1. Explain what Jaime Escalante was able to do. Describe the process and the difficulties he faced using quotes / evidence / examples from the text.
  2. According to Escalante, what was necessary for high-end learning? What were some of the successful ingredients?
  3. Describe the destructive force of envy presented in the article. How, in your opinion, should Escalante have been treated? (use quotes and evidence from the article please)

Jaime Escalante Tribute:

Jaime Escalante on School, Teachers, and Teaching:

A Newscast About Jaime Escalante’s Life:


Here’s how you can help me grift:

My Udemy classes are here – extremely low price and you have them forever.

I also sell custom made mugs. I’ll do personalized orders as well. They are all made in the United States – in Pennsylvania.

All of the mugs are here on Gearbubble. These are made in the USA, and if you don’t want to contribute to Amazon’s record profits during this time of CV19, the Gearbubble link is the one to use. Thank you!

Non-Fiction – Incentives and Behavior

Learning Target: How incentives affect human behavior.

Classwork Today – Answer (20 points): How is it possible that the staff of Garfield HS would trade the lowering of performance for getting rid of Jaime Escalante? Wouldn’t it seem risky to do such a thing? Explain in a short paragraph using what you saw in the movie “Stand and Deliver”, as well as the article.

Today we’ll watch the next section of “Stand and Deliver”.

From the Article.  Pay close attention:

“Word got out to sophomores. (There are no freshmen in Los Angeles City schools; it is a three-year program.) If they wanted in to Escalante’s AP class, they had to work like mad in the first two years of math. They started doing this. It was a badge of honor to get accepted into his calculus class.

He was a hard-nosed disciplinarian. He would not tolerate second-best from known bright students. He threw them out. But he did whatever he could to help not-so-bright students who worked hard to pass his class.

This is the way great teachers have taught from the beginning of time. This is the way students master the material. To get his reputation as a great teacher, he must first become a salesman. He must persuade students to work harder than their peers. He must keep them motivated to persevere. This is not easy in the early stages of a teacher’s career.

When the buzz gets going, and students perceive that they will gain respect from peers and adults for having persevered, the dynamics change. It is not so difficult to sell students on the benefits. But in the early phases of a career, it is no picnic. The teacher must persevere.

The movie shows the dynamics of the faculty. Escalante was not welcomed with open arms. He said later that the movie was 10% dramatic fiction and 90% accurate. I suspect that the movie’s chairwoman of the department was not so bad in real life as the movie portrays. I hope not. She expressed fear that the students would fail. They did not need another failure. Escalante countered that students will rise to a challenge. He proved his point.


His big institutional problem was envy. This is the desire to pull down a high achiever. It was a factor in the faculty.

Every institution suffers from envy. The question is this: How can the system be designed to restrict it? Here is the institutional problem. If someone is hired who is a spectacular performer, he exposes the other members as time-serving hacks. On the other hand, if a new employee is substandard, word may get out. The next layer up in the system may ask: “How did this person get through the screening process?” That is a huge risk. Officials in the next layer up may decide to interfere with the sieve-like lower level. Every institution wants two things: (1) more autonomy; (2) more money. A threat to its autonomy is a major threat.

What is the reaction? Unofficially, the screeners opt for mediocrity.”


Class Notes:

  • “The Economy” is the behavior of individuals.
  • People respond to incentives
  • Envy corrupted some of the staff at Garfield HS.

Escalante with one of his classes before he was pushed out of the school:

“Master Teacher, Envious System” – Themes and Direction

Learning Target: What are the main THEMES discussed in the movie “Stand and Deliver” and the article “Master Teacher, Envious System”?

Review Definition: THEMEa subject of discourse, discussion, meditation, or composition; topic // a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc., as in a work of art.

Written Classwork (20 points):

  • What are the themes discussed in the movie so far and the article?       You should be able to write what the theme is in one sentence.
  • Defend your theme with two or three points or pieces of evidence that support your premise.

Today’s Excerpt:


He was an immigrant from Bolivia. He had taught school in Bolivia, but he was legally unqualified to teach in the United States. He could not speak English. He got a job as a bus boy in a restaurant. Within six months, he was the head cook. He was that kind of man.

He enrolled in a local community college. With scholarship aid and a day job with Burroughs, he graduated in mathematics from a four-year school. He still wanted to teach. So, he quit his job and applied for a position in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He was sent to Garfield.

This made sense. He spoke Spanish. He was a new teacher. Garfield was not on any new teacher’s list as the preferred school. So, he wound up in a school where there was no advanced mathematics training.

He was not content with this arrangement. He was able to add courses on more advanced math. He called mathematics the great equalizer. It does not care what your social background is. It does not care what language you speak. It is objective. Either you get the answer correctly or you don’t. He told them they could go to college. “I’ll teach you math and that’s your language. With that you’re going to make it. You’re going to college and sit in the first row, not the back, because you’re going to know more than anybody.”

He persuaded students that they were the best. This comes out clearly in the movie. He pushed them, he manipulated them, he sometimes humiliated them, but he got them to take his class. They showed up before school began. They stayed after school. They came to class on Saturdays. They came to summer school. They worked harder than students in their peer group, and I don’t mean just in East L.A. I mean the whole age group. They worked like the children of Asian immigrants.

They also scored like the children of Asian immigrants. Year after year, more of his students passed the AP. This was considered impossible — not genetically, but socially and culturally.

Escalante said that what students needed was desire — “ganas,” in Spanish. They needed a challenge, and he was going to give it to them. He did, year after year.

Edward James Olmos and Jaime Escalante:

Jaime Escalante – ‘Master Teacher’ => “Stand and Deliver”.

How can group dynamics affect high achievers in a negative way?

Learning Target: How group dynamics affect high achievers in a negative way.

Do Now (20 points): What is the difference between envy and jealousy?

Jealousy: _________________________________

Envy: ____________________________________

  • How and where did you learn to be envious or jealous?       (Think about TV, Stories, other people….)

Article read aloud: “Jaime Escalante, Master Teacher, Envious System” https://www.lewrockwell.com/2010/04/gary-north/killing-the-spirit-of-learning/

Key Excerpt: 

If you are really good at what you do, you have a problem. Some of your peers are gunning for you — not to beat you by outperforming you, but by taking you down or out. To understand why, you would be wise to know the story of Jaime Escalante.

Jaime Escalante died of cancer on March 30, 2010. If you ever saw the HBO movie, Stand and Deliver, you know who he was. If you have not seen it, you probably don’t know.

He was a mathematics teacher in a Los Angeles high school from 1974 to 1991. The school was Garfield High. It had nothing going for it in 1974, either athletically or academically. It was in East Los Angeles, in what was functionally an Hispanic barrio.

When he arrived, there was no course in calculus. The school was about to lose its accreditation. It was arguably the worst school academically in the state, or close to it. By the time he left, it was the #3 school in the United States for the number of students enrolled in the Advanced Placement program for calculus. By then, there were almost 600 students enrolled in various AP courses, not just calculus.

One man’s presence produced that change. This is the enormous power of one . . . for a time. But then the law of large numbers reasserted itself: regression to the mean.

HBO broadcast the movie in 1988. He resigned out of frustration in 1991. He grew tired of the resentment of other teachers, who regarded him as a prima donna, which he surely was. Today, there are few students enrolled in AP courses at Garfield. It is no longer the best tax-funded high school in California to study for the AP exam in calculus.”


  • Non- Fiction
  • Bolivian born calculus teacher
  • Taught at Garfield HS – Central LA
  • Had high expectations for himself and his students
  • Created an exceedingly successful math program – this was unexpected
  • Was the object of institutional envy
  • Eventually driven out of the school

Movie Preview:  


Here’s how you can help me grift:

My Udemy classes are here – extremely low price and you have them forever.

I also sell custom made mugs. I’ll do personalized orders as well. They are all made in the United States – in Pennsylvania.

All of the mugs are here on Gearbubble. These are made in the USA, and if you don’t want to contribute to Amazon’s record profits during this time of CV19, the Gearbubble link is the one to use. Thank you!