The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout prone students to learn calculus.

Jaime Escalante: Do you want me to do it for you?
Pancho: Yes.
Jaime Escalante: You're supposed to say no.
Jaime Escalante: It's not that they're stupid, it's just they don't know anything.
Dr. Ramirez: How'd you do it?
Angel: I got the test ahead of time and passed it out to all the others?
Dr. Pearson: How did you get it?
Angel: The Mailman
Angel: I strangled him and his body's decomposing in my locker.
[Jaime is using girlfriends as the variables in an algebraic equation]
Raquel: Can you have negative girlfriends?
Jaime Escalante: No, only negative boyfriends. Forgive us, for we know not what we do.
Jaime Escalante: If we discuss sex, I have to give sex for homework.
Jaime Escalante: [to his students] ... There will be no free rides, no excuses. You already have two strikes against you: your name and your complexion. Because of those two strikes, there are some people in this world who will assume that you know less than you do. *Math* is the great equalizer... When you go for a job, the person giving you that job will not want to hear your problems; ergo, neither do I. You're going to work harder here than you've ever worked anywhere else. And the only thing I ask from you is *ganas.* *Desire.*
[Passing one boy, he ruffles up the student's hair]
Jaime Escalante: And maybe a haircut.
[Everyone laughs]
Jaime Escalante: If you don't have the *ganas,* I will give it to you because I'm an expert.
Jaime Escalante: You think you got it, Johnny? Think you have the answer?
Tito: Juan is X, Carlos is Y, Pedro is X + Y. Is Pedro bisexual or straight?
Jaime Escalante: Sometimes I worry about you.
Jaime Escalante: ...Did you know that neither the Greeks nor the Romans were capable of using the concept of zero? It was your ancestors, the Mayans, who first contemplated the zero. The absence of value. True story. You *burros* have math in your blood... A negative times a negative equals a positive. Why?
[the whole class looks at him blankly; he sighs deeply and shakes his head]
Jaime Escalante: We're gonna need a lot of Kleenexes - there's gonna be a lot of bloodshed.
Angel: Hey, Kemo, you should be proud of me, man! I'm the first dude here. What's calcoolus?
Chuco: Lots of stars up there, Homey. Not too polluted.
Angel: The stars aren't really there, ese. No, what you're looking at is where they used to be, man. It takes the light a thousand years to reach the Earth. You know, for all we know, they burned out a long time ago, man. God pulled the plug on us. He didn't tell nobody.
Chuco: The stars are out there, homeboy. I don't care what you say.
Dr. Pearson: There is two kinds of racism, Mr. Escalante. Judging a group because they are a minority, and *not* judging a group because they are a minority.
Jaime A. Escalante: You're like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there!
Jaime Escalante: You only see the turn, you don't see the road ahead.
[Escalante is eating in the Delgado family's restaurant, speaking with them about Ana's decision to drop out of Garfield High]
Jaime Escalante: She'll just get fat, waste her life away in your restaurant. You have to understand - she's a top student.
Mr. Delgado: I started washing dishes for a nickel an hour. Now I own this place. Did *I* waste *my* life?
Jaime Escalante: I washed dishes, too, when I first came to this country.
Mr. Delgado: Good! Why don't you put on an apron and give us a hand?
Jaime Escalante: ...Ana could go to college, come back, and teach you how to run this place.
Mr. Delgado: [He tears up the tab for Jaime's dinner] Professor Escalante, I don't want your money. And I don't need your business.
Jaime Escalante: [He reaches into his wallet, dropping the money on the table anyway] Tip, for Ana. By the way, I notice you put hot chilies in your dip to sell extra beer - don't you?
[Angel doesn't want anyone to see him carrying books around]
Jaime Escalante: Wouldn't want anyone thinking you're intelligent, would you?
Pancho: [struggling with a calculus problem] Don't laugh!
Jaime Escalante: How can we laugh? You're breaking our hearts.
Pancho: I don't need no math. I got a solar calculator with my dozen donuts.
Jaime Escalante: Now you got a ticket to watch the show
Jaime Escalante: Hey, what you got?
Pancho: I got a core.
Jaime Escalante: You owe me a hundred percent. And I'll see you in the People's Court.
Angel: [while Escalante is cooking dinner] Why don't we order out?
Jaime Escalante: [Escalante looks at him incredulously]
Angel: I'm kidding, man!
Lupe: Kemo, we're seniors. This is our year to slack off
Jaime Escalante: Those scores would have never been questioned if my kids did not have Spanish surnames and come from barrio schools. You know that.
[last lines]
Jaime Escalante: I want the original scores reinstated.
Jaime Escalante: Go to woodshop and make yourself a shoeshine box. You're gonna need it.
Angel: You the man, you know? Why don't you put them in college, huh? So dumb taco benders like me can pick their vegetables for them, collect their garbage, clip their poodles' toenails. I may be a sinner, but I'm willing to pay for my sins.
Jaime Escalante: Right. See you at three.
Angel: I got more bad news for you, *profe.* I know this is really gonna trip you out, but... I forgot my pencil.
[Ana produces a pencil for him]
Jaime Escalante: Tough guys don't do math. Tough guys fry chicken for a living.
Jaime Escalante: [about Claudia] This girl's gotta do some work from the neck up. We're going to have to stay late again. Of course you know, we have pizza because they deliver. We can get fried chicken, hamburgers with cheese. We'll need donations. No, really, you owe me money anyway. You don't deserve the grades you're getting.
[Claudia gets up and leaves]
Jaime Escalante: Where are you going? Late for another date? She's got more boyfriends than Elizabeth Taylor.
Claudia: I don't appreciate you using my personal life to entertain this class.
Pancho: [Escalante is driving Pancho's car] Kemo, I don't wanna let you down but the money I'd be making'll buy me a new Trans Am.
Jaime Escalante: No one cruise through life, Pancho. Wouldn't you rather be designing these things than repairing them? Can't even do that, things got fuel injection -
[grinds gears]
Pancho: Kemo, you're gonna strip my gears, man!
Jaime Escalante: Don't panic, Johnny, just watch out for the other guy -
[grinds gears again]
Jaime Escalante: Right or left?
Jaime Escalante: [Kemo turns right, screams to halt in front of a dead end]
Jaime Escalante: All you can see is the turn, don't see the road ahead...
Jaime Escalante: Either I teach calculus next year, or have a good day.
Raquel: Well, if this man can dictate terms to us, I see no reason for me to continue as department chair.
Angel: Yeah, I have the same answer as gordita.
Lupe: Don't call me gordita, pendejo.
Jaime Escalante: Do you think the students cheated?
Raquel: Mr. Escalante, you put these kids under an awful lot of pressure. They would have gone to any lengths to please you.
Jaime Escalante: You didn't answer my question.
Raquel: Well... every night when I go to bed, I watch the television news. I see a lot of people go on trial. They always deny everything, or their lawyers say they were insane at the time. A lot of them get off. But I believe that most people who get caught today are guilty. Don't you?
Jaime Escalante: [angrily] Yup. I know what you mean.
[Gang leader enters classroom, trailed by two henchmen]
Escalante: Are your friends auditing?
Gang Leader: I audited them to come with me.
Dr. Ramirez: Nobody has the right to accuse me of racism.
Dr. Ramirez: Nobody has the right to accuse me of racism.
Jaime Escalante: [to Chuco and Company] I am *El Cyclone,* from... Bolivia. One-man gang. This classroom is *my* domain. Don't give me no gas, or I'll jump on your face and tattoo your chromosomes... If the only thing you know how to do is add and subtract, you will only be prepared to do one thing: Pump gas.
Jaime Escalante: Calculus was not made to be easy. It already is.
Tito: ...Just don't ever let her know that you dig her. That's, like, the worst thing you can do with a woman.
Jaime Escalante: Students will rise to the level of expectation, Senor Molina.
Jaime Escalante: [Angel reaches for a pen in Jaime's shirt pocket; Jaime grabs his wrist] I wouldn't do that if I was you. Might lose a finger and won't be able to count to ten.
Mr. Delgado: Your husband comes into my restaurant, eats... and he insults me!
Fabiola Escalante: Excuse my husband, Mr. Delgado. He just wants what's best for Ana.
Jaime Escalante: She can go to college, come back, teach you how to run the place.
[he leaves money on the table]
Mr. Delgado: Professor...
[shoves the money back]
Mr. Delgado: I don't want your money. And I don't need your business.
Jaime Escalante: Skip it. Tip.
Jaime Escalante: I may have made a mistake.
Jaime Escalante: [after confronting the ETS investigators] You know what kills me... it's that they lost the confidence in the system they're now finally qualified to be a part of. I don't know why I'm losing sleep over this. I don't need it. I could be making more money, with less hours, and have people treat me with respect.
Fabiola Escalante: Respect? Jaime, those kids love you.
Jaime Escalante: My kids could teach you a thing or two, Johnny.
Raquel: [spontaneously resigning as department chair] Have a good day.
Claudia: You're worried that we'll screw up royally tomorrow, aren't you?
Jaime Escalante: Tomorrow's another day. I'm worried you're gonna screw up the rest of your lives.

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