Students "Stand and Deliver" for Teacher

Actor Edward James Olmos and teacher Jaime Escalante.
They are old friends who changed each other's lives and the lives of many more: actor Edward James Olmos and teacher Jaime Escalante, now 79.

In the 1980s, Escalante was striving to turn inner city kids in Los Angeles into top-achieving math students, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

Olmos played Escalante in the 1988 movie "Stand and Deliver," and the world learned of the inspirational teacher and the unlikely students who excelled in the nation's toughest college entrance math exam.

Escalante's students used his nickname, Kimo.

It's Escalante's real triumphs at Los Angeles' Garfield High that Olmos is hoping people will remember now, because the beloved teacher is dying.

He has bladder cancer, given a few months to live at most. His voice is weak, but his pride remains strong in the kids he helped lift out of poverty by preparing them for college.
"For 10 years we built that program, gradually," Escalante said.

Among Escalante's graduates is Erika Camacho. Before she took his algebra class her only goal was to be a cashier. Now at 34, she's a Ph.D. and math professor at Arizona State University.

"You owe him to do good because he's put so much of himself to make sure that you succeed that it's only fair to give back what he has given to you," Camacho said.

Escalante's illness and medical treatments have drained his resources.

He didn't ask for help, but now those he helped are raising money to make his last days comfortable - so far they have raised $19,000 for his care. While doctors say he can't be cured, he has never been one to quit.

Donate to Escalante's Health Fund

"I came up with one idea - you don't count how many times you are on the floor," Escalanate said. "You count how many times you get up."

Ever the teacher, Jaime Escalante is still giving lessons in determination.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.