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Juanita Doyon, Room Mother of the Resistance

Susan Notes: Juanita Doyon is a remarkable woman. We called her the button queen, and then we called her candidate for Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction. She didn't win that election, but Juanita is never a loser. That may sound like a cliche, but read on and you'll see why it isn't.

Juanita has decided to become a college student, and her answer to a question from her admissions counsellor gives a small sample of why she is indeed our room mother of the resistance.

2) What do you need to hear from me if you become discouraged?

Election season 2004 was not kind to me. After running a 4-year grassroots campaign to become Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction and gaining widespread respect and endorsements from Democrats, Republicans, Labor, etc..., I ended primary night with a mere 8.4% of the vote. Before the night was over, I emailed my manager telling him we needed to sign on to help the other candidate, who did make it through the primary, to beat the incumbent. In the end, the incumbent won reelection.

Gandhi said, "First they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; then you win." They've been fighting us for a while. We haven't won yet, so I'll add, "then you get a college degree" before the "then you win." Not that I'm expecting any smooth sailing into office just because I have a degree. Who knows what the next 3 years will bring? (Besides, another thing I learned is that it will take a degree AND $300,000 to spend on TV ads.)

What I'm trying to say is, discouraged isn't really a word in my vocabulary. Frustrated, disgusted, incensed, perhaps, but never discouraged. "They can put me down, but they'll never shut me up!" --a little phrase I repeat to myself regularly.

If you ever sense that I may be ready to throw in the academic towel and shut down my computer indefinitely, I guess you could tell me to go read the magnets on my fridge that my activist friend and writing mentor, Susan Ohanian, sent me for Christmas. Winston Churchill says, "Never, never, never give up." And Emily Dickinson tells me to, "Dwell in possibility."

I'm generally the one, in every relationship, who sees the glass half full. On the national education activism scene, I'm known as the "room mother of the resistance," the resistance being to high-stakes testing. Room moms don't become discouraged. We treat ourselves to a hot fudge sundae (or a strawberry margarita) and get back to work.

— Juanita Doyon



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