Monday, February 28, 2011

Mendoza's firing was an outrage

Former CPS art teacher Francisco Mendoza (wearing hat), talks with friends and well-wishers during an auction of donated art items for his benefit held at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago on February 27, 2011 . Mendoza has cancer and was fired last summer by CPS. l Keith Hale~Sun-Times
I went to the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Pilsen last night to help fired CPS teacher Francisco Mendoza. The place was packed with hundreds of Mendoza supporters who raised thousands of dollars to  support the renowned artist/teacher in his battle with cancer and CPS.
Mendoza, a painter, muralist and pillar of Pilsen’s art community, tried not to cry Sunday night as hundreds of friends showed up to support him at an art auction fund-raiser — yards from Orozco Elementary, where he once worked. “I’ve got to stay strong,” said Mendoza, smiling beneath a black cowboy hat, seated in a wheelchair. “I feel like if I cry — everyone here will start crying.” -- Sun-Times
The firing of Mendoza while he was on sick leave, was a disgrace and a big blow to his students and the entire school community. He was diagnosed last April with multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer. He spent five months at Rush University Medical Center undergoing chemotherapy, and survived a close call with a lung infection, before returning home to find a termination letter. 

Corporate reformers, including mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, want to eliminate tenure and other collective-bargaining rights so they can easily fire teachers like Mendoza, leaving them with no health care or any means of support and replace them with younger (certainly not better) teachers who are paid less and are less likely to get sick.

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