"Stand and Deliver" is a Rare Film about Education.
Few films and Books are Serious about Education
Stand and Deliver
Not that many serious movies or novels tackle education in a serious manner. Most are
Teen flicks about the cheerleaders and the jocks. Sometimes the story takes place in a school setting; however it is seldom about the educational process. The British seem to address the issue more often than others in Goodbye Mr. Chips, Up the Down Staircase and To Sir, with Love.
The 1988, film Stand and Deliver stands out as one of few films that deals directly with the educational process and is based upon the life of Jaime Escalante. Jay Mathews had written a book, The Best Teacher in America about Escalante’s brilliant success teaching math at Garfield High in East Los Angeles. Escalante left a good job in order to become a teacher. This was a school where rebellion ran high and teachers were more focused upon discipline than academics.
When his students did well passing a difficult Advanced Placement Calculus exam, everything was scrutinized and many felt he somehow had his students cheating on the exam. Everyone insisted that the students retake the exam and twelve of the fourteen who took it, passed it the second time.
A Similar Story by the Author:
Lean against the Wind, a story by Reynold Jay, that involved Special Needs children, is fiction by all accounts; however the problems of a superior teacher are similar to Stand and Deliver.
In that Lean against the Wind is based upon three decades of Special Needs teaching, the problems described, many would say, are very real today in the educational system. When the students do well, others doubt how it could have come about and stand in the way. Raymond Lancaster plays the lead in the novel as a businessman who is called to take a leave of absence for a year and become a teacher in a dilapidated rundown school. He does well under the guidance of Mr. Harrelson, the principal and his associates. However after the first year, he feels that his work is not finished and decides to continue for another year under a new administration in a multi-million dollar school. Mr. Harrelson is ejected from the school system and a new breed of administrators take over. Lancaster realizes that the old system had its merits and was much like Camelot, a perfect setting that has disappeared with the wind. The novel describes the battles of Lancaster and his dedicated associates as they take on the new administration while trying to do everything they can for the students.
Unlike Stand and Deliver where the students are apathetic in the first half of the film, the students and the parents in RJ’s novel accept their teachers as being godlike from the opening bell. Lancaster, the parents, and the dedicated staff join hands in order to bring about the education they want for the children.
The students steal the show while all this is going on. Readers will meet Big Jim, who always carries a badge, and Tiny Tim, who is bullied at his residence home and wishes he could own a television. You’ll meet Jon Causey who loved to sing and his dedicated mother who battled for a decade to get an education for her son. When all is over, you will wish it could go on. You will fall in love with the students and staff and more than likely say, “Good riddance and don’t come back!” to the bad guys as you turn the last page.
Lean against the Wind Signed copies are available directly from the author.
Read a short story about RJ when he was a DJ. A touching story "A Hundred Bucks." LIfe is not all about money.