RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow resigned Wednesday in a letter to Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
Gov. Youngkin (R), who campaigned heavily on education and parental rights, picked Balow as Virginia’s 26th education superintendent not long before being sworn into office. Balow will be a consultant for the Youngkin administration once she leaves the post on March 9.
“I am grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to serve the children and families of Virginia and I continue to strongly support you and your vision for education in Virginia,” Balow wrote in the letter to Youngkin.
Balow did not share a reason for her departure in the letter but wrote that her family has developed roots in Virginia and will continue to live in the commonwealth “for the foreseeable future.”
“The governor thanks Superintendent Balow for her service to the Commonwealth and her work in advancing the Governor’s education agenda to empower parents and restore excellence in education,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement.
Balow added that she was proud of moving Youngkin’s education agenda forward during the past two Virginia General Assembly sessions, pointing to the Virginia Literacy Act and the education department’s “Our Commitment to Virginians” report in May 2022.
The Virginia Department of Education was marked by controversy under Balow’s tenure, including the Youngkin administration’s series of draft revisions to Virginia’s K-12 standards for history and social science, rewrites that received heavy criticism over omissions, errors and claims of “whitewashing” history.
After multiple delays, the state Board of Education voted in early February to move forward with the education department’s second draft.
The learning standards, reviewed every seven years, will set the bar on what K-12 students should learn during each grade as early as the 2024-2025 school year. The state board will hold six public hearings on the proposed revisions from March 13 to March 21 before a final document is approved.
Youngkin’s education department also faced backlash over a mathematical error that led some K-12 school districts to get less funding than they expected to receive, a $201 million gap that was later addressed in the “skinny budget” passed by lawmakers before wrapping up the 2023 legislative session.
The Virginia Education Association, a union representing more than 40,000 teachers and school personnel, released a statement criticizing Balow’s tenure as superintendent.
VEA pointed to the revised history standards and the Youngkin administration’s effort to overhaul Virginia’s transgender student policies, which has been met with heavy criticism.
“Despite all of the problems left in Superintendent Balow’s wake, VEA calls on Governor Youngkin to take this opportunity to appoint a new superintendent who has a mix of leadership knowledge, policy expertise, deep background in our state K-12 funding formula, and real-world classroom experience,” Dr. James J. Fedderman, VEA’s president, said in the statement.