Every California teen has seen the 1988 film "Stand And Deliver" at least twice: once during a lull in math class and again on a school bus trip.
That's why Golden Staters are all intimately familiar with the amazing story of East L.A. calculus teacher Jaime Escalante. He fought school administrators and low expectations to teach advanced calculus to underserved Latino students in a low-performing high school. He came under scrutiny in 1982 when his class was accused of cheating on the Advanced Placement exam, but was vindicated when most re-took the test and passed a second time.
Escalante died in 2010 of cancer after a long career helping students excel at math, and his memory lives on -- not just in the 1988 film, but now also in the 2013 "Portlandia" sketch "Reverse Stand And Deliver."
In his best Chicano accent, Fred Armisen takes on the role of Professor Santos, a teacher at Multnomah University who yearns for something more. His students transform him little by little, elevating his sad sandwich lunches and eventually pushing him to become the Portland stereotype he's always dreamed of becoming: a social media marketing professional.
"Don't you want to be the first person in your family NOT to teach?" asks Carrie Brownstein, who plays a student in the sketch. That's an insider joke for those who know Escalante was the son of two teachers from Bolivia.
The only way this sketch could have been any better is if the IFC show had gotten actor Edward James Olmos, who played Escalante in the 1988 film, to make a cameo. But "Portlandia" already used their Olmos card for their "Battlestar Galactica" sketch.