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LULAC Saddened By the Passing of Jaime Escalante

March 31, 2010

Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos, ljolmos@lulac.org, (202) 365-4553

“He was a true inspiration for all of us".

Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country, is saddened by the passing of an education champion, Jaime Escalante who touched the lives of students nationwide.

“Jaime Escalante was a transformational leader in the Latino community that encouraged us to excel and made us believe in ourselves,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales.

The movie "Stand and Deliver" told the inspirational story of how Jaime Escalante turned the failing calculus program at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles into one of the top in the nation.

Escalante became a hero for educators, earning him entrance to the National Teachers Hall of Fame and the Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education.

Actor Edward James Olmos who played Escalante in Stand and Deliver said that Jaime Escalante exposed one of the most dangerous myths of our time - that inner city students can't be expected to perform at the highest levels. He said because of him, that destructive idea has been shattered forever. Olmos said this is a legacy that changed American education, and he will work to ensure that it continues long into the future.

Escalante, 79, was surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren when he died at his home in Roseville, California yesterday. The cause of death was coronary and respiratory failure, precipitated by cancer.

A native of La Paz, Bolivia, and the son of two elementary-school teachers, Escalante came to America in 1963 at age 33. Although he was already an accomplished and popular science and mathematics teacher in Bolivia, he spoke almost no English and had to return to school to become a certified teacher in California.

"LULAC wants to honor his legacy by ensuring that students are excelling in school and those whose lives he has touched will continue to do that," said Rosales.

Escalante is survived by his wife, two sons, and six grandchildren.

The League of United Latin American Citizens advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.

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