The Latino Face Now on Your Postage Stamps: A Legendary Teacher Worth Knowing

The new Forever stamp portrays Jaime Escalante, an East Los Angeles math teacher, known for using unconventional methods to inspire high school students in low-income urban areas
The Latino Face Now on Your Postage Stamps: A Legendary Teacher Worth Knowing
Una nueva estampilla del USPS es dedicada a la memoria de Jaime Escalante.
Foto: Cortesía/USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) recognized Jaime Escalante with the issuance of a new Forever stamp on July 13. Escalante was an East Los Angeles math teacher, known for using unconventional methods to inspire high school students in low-income urban areas to improve their knowledge in calculus.

The stamp dedication ceremony was held during the 87th Annual Convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in Washington, DC. In addition, there was a special dedication ceremony on 16 July at Garfield High School in Los Angeles, where Escalante taught.

With the digital illustration of Jason Seiler, the art of this stamp shows Escalante in a style that seeks to resemble an oil painting. Escalante is standing in front of a blackboard on which there are symbols of calculation. He wears his iconic beret and looks directly at the viewer.

The illustration is based on a photograph taken by Jaime Escalante II on May 6, 2005 in a classroom at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, Calif., where his father taught. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp, with original art from Seiler.

“We are here today to honor Jaime Escalante because, as a teacher, he proved again and again that conventional wisdom can be challenged with the right contributions to the right formula,” said Robert Cintron, vice president of Network Operations, the organization that dedicated the stamp.

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“We congratulate Mr. Escalante today for his captivating ability to generate tranquility in a landscape of calamity,” Cintron said. “As a result of staying committed to his belief that all students can learn, students classified as undisciplined, disinterested, uncontrollable, and rebels received a real opportunity to learn. In return, his students showed the world that an opportunity was all they needed.”

Participants in the ceremony included John B. King Jr., U.S. Secretary of Education; Roger Rocha Jr., LULAC National President; Brent Wilkes, LULAC Executive Director; Edward James Olmos, actor; Jaime Escalante II, Jr.; Joya Camilo Diaz, Math teacher at Verizon Minority Male Makers Program; Sara Nieves Rosario, coordinator of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee; U.S. Census Bureau; and Crystal Claros, sophomore at Rock Ridge School.

Bolivian dancers from the Bolivian Cultural Center gave a special performance.

Escalante became famous in an unexpected and unfortunate way. In 1982, 18 students took the Advanced Placement calculus exam and passed it. Controversy arose when the exam revision service accused 14 students of cheating. Escalante suspected that the accusation of cheating was because the students were Mexican-Americans from a low-income area of Los Angeles. However, the accusation was denied and, in retrospect, a solution was offered: the 14 students had to retake the exam. Twelve of the 14 students did a separate examination and all of them approved it.

Escalante and his students became heroes instantly in the fall of 1982, when the story reached the media and attracted the attention of Hollywood producer Tom Musca and director Ramon Menendez. The film “Stand and Deliver”, which premiered in 1988, received good reviews and Escalante became one of the most famous professors in the United States.

In 1999, Escalante was included in the Teachers National Hall of Fame for his efforts to allow children to “believe in their ability to achieve goals.”

Jaime Escalante’s Forever stamp will always have a value equivalent to the price of a one-ounce first class mail.

Customers can get Jaime Escalante’s Forever stamp at usps.com/stamps, by phone at 1-800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at local post offices nationwide. They should stick postage stamps to envelopes of their choice, write the address on the envelopes (addressed to themselves or to other recipients) and place them in an envelope addressed to:

Jaime Escalante Stamp
Special Events,
PO Box 92282
Washington, D.C. 20090-2282

After postmarking the first day of issue stamp, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark, up to the amount of 50 envelopes. For more than 50, they will charge 5 cents per package. All orders must have been stamped with the postmark no later than September 13, 2016.