Bang. You stand and deliver. It's not excellence when you say "I'm going to give a make-up test." like teachers do.

The second thing I look for is anticipation. And anticipation means to be in the right place at the right moment. And when I do my homework I know what I'm going to do.

And the last one is innovation I innovate. Innovation is the light of competition. That's the only way. If these people tell me I'm not doing it the right way, and I'm against the bilingual, it all just motivates me to compete, to do better. This gives me the satisfaction to say "I don't care what you say, I'm doing my job."

All different ethnic groups I have in the class. I have blacks, I have whites, I have kids from Laos and Viet Nam, and I have one Chicano kid. So it's nice, I have to adjust myself to what integration is.

If a kid is a slow learner, let him be with the other kids, maybe it's going to help him. If you say "the kid has an IQ of 50 he belongs in special education" [then] sometimes the kid is going to be lazy, [if] he knows he doesn't have to do anything.

GT: How does the future look to you?

Escalante: As you know, one generation works to help the next generation. And this generation I don't think is doing too much to be able to help the next generation. Kids are looking for easy things to do in the class, and for easy ways to go out, they're not depending on themselves to challenge the 21st century. I would like to see we teach them how to think and how to communicate. If we could accomplish that, the year 2000 plus would be better.

But at this stage, I don't think high schools are preparing kids to stand and deliver. We face one of the biggest problems, teen pregnancy, and then drugs and AIDS. In LA they pass out thousands of condoms. No. You instigate the kids to use that. You've got to anticipate this. Not the way to operate. And that starts with education and that starts at home. You show this is teen pregnancy and this is AIDS, you stimulate the kids to do that.

GT: For a teacher who does such a wonderful job with kids, it looks like you're not very positive about their future.

Escalante: I'm not, no. With this new generation and these new teachers, I don't think they're going to change too much.

GT: Do you see hope? Are there things that are working?

Escalante: I know there are great teachers, I know there are great students, but in general today, our kids are not motivated. They look for the easy way. They look for a job to buy a car and that's it. Nothing else.

The opposite is true in places like South America. In those countries, education is a privilege. Education in this country, for most kids, is a punishment. They don't want to be in the classroom. Some kids come in from other countries and get contaminated. I have some kids from Russia, some kids from China, from Laos/ Viet Nam, and they work at Jack in the Box and they think they've made it, because where they come from they didn't have money.

At home, mom and dad, they don't care too much. There are some parents that are responsible, and some kids that also have that idea, but the majority of them, no. Looking for the easy way to live.

Wayne Hanson  |  Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government