But Escalante believed that a teacher should never, ever let a student give up.
“You have to love the subject you teach and you have to love the kids and make them see that they have a chance, opportunity in this country to become whatever they want to,” he told NPR several years ago.
To make it, Escalante often said, you need ganas, Spanish for desire and drive. Ganas was Escalante’s battle cry, not just in motivating his students, but every time he chided apathetic administrators and jaded teachers. Stand and Deliver captures the tension perfectly in a scene when Escalante, played by Edward James Olmos, announces he wants to teach calculus and his colleagues think it’s a joke.