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.