Drama. Based on the screenplay by Ramon Menendez and Tom Musca. Adapted for the stage by Robert Bella.
Cast: 10m., 7w. (fewer with doubling), multiracial/gender flexible (half of the male roles can be played by females). Extras as desired. A motion picture originally released by Warner Brothers, this Oscar-nominated drama is the compelling true story of a dedicated East Los Angeles teacher who surmounts overwhelming odds in his quest to turn inner-city students into whiz kids. When Jaime Escalante leaves a career in engineering to teach high school math, he is assigned to a barrio school with a reputation for gangs, drugs and dropouts, an ill-funded school that is also in imminent danger of losing its accreditation. Still, his quirky sense of humor, antics and offbeat teaching methods mesmerize and motivate his students. A class goal is set: to take the Advanced Placement Calculus Test, an exam so demanding that less than two percent of seniors attempt it. Pressure mounts! Escalante works his students and himself so obsessively that he suffers a heart attack a couple of days before the test; nonetheless, 18 students take the test. All 18 pass! However, the skeptical Educational Testing Service invalidates the scores because of the unusual similarity of wrong answers. Ambition and pride vanish in a single computerized keystroke. Reluctantly, the students agree to retest. The result provides the dramatic conclusion to this emotion-packed, inspirational, urban fairy tale.