Edward James Olmos portrays the real-life Jaime Escalante, a no-nonsense mathematic teacher in a tough East LA high school. Handed a classroom full of losers and unteachables, Escalante is determined to turn his young charges' lives around.
Drawing from his own cultural heritage, Escalante forms a bond with his largely Hispanic student body, evoking the names of famous Spaniards and Latin Americans whose great accomplishments were predicated on their ability to learn.
The students gradually come to realize that the only way they'll escape their own poverty-stricken barrio is to improve themselves intellectually. As a result, the class' academic achievements soar dramatically -- too dramatically for the Educational Testing Service, which is convinced that the class' high test scores are the results of cheating.
The triumphant exoneration of Escalante's students provides Stand and Deliver with its rousingly upbeat conclusion.