Jaime Escalante (Olmos) gives up a lucrative job in electronics to teach math at an East LA barrio school notorious for drugs and gang-related violence. Many students have difficulty writing their own names, but Escalante, oozing oddball charm, transmogrifies his 18 airheads into an educational élite, making them sign a contract promising they will do no less than 30 hours homework a week, attend pre-school classes, and extra lessons on Saturdays and holidays. Sums hardly come into it; emotional blackmail ensures there are no failures, and everybody receives a college credit. However, the Educational Testing Service, amazed at the results, cries 'Foul!', and the celebrating swots are compelled to stand and deliver, ie resit the exam. It's hard to believe this really happened, but Escalante is apparently still performing the same miracle. The ensemble acting is excellent. Remember, kids, it all comes down to Self Respect.