'Did you ask for her resignation?' What Governor Youngkin is saying about Virginia's top school leader

Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 06:47:34-05

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. -- One day after Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow announced her resignation as the state's top education leader, Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) participated in Read Across America Day in Louisa County.

Since Balow's letter of resignation did not include a reason for her decision to step down, CBS 6 reporter Tyler Layne asked the governor to shed light on the situation.

“Did you ask for Jillian Balow’s resignation?” Layne asked.

“Well so first of all, I want to thank the superintendent for her commitment to the Commonwealth. She stood for excellence, and she loves kids, and I couldn’t ask for any better qualifications for her," the governor replied.

"But yes or no, did you ask for the resignation?" Layne asked.

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Tyler Layne asks Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) about the resignation of superintendent of public instruction Jillian Balow.

"So part of what we are managing right now is recognizing we have a big transition, and education is hugely important, and we want to make sure we have the best person that we can to do that, and I am so appreciative of the superintendent’s commitment to the Commonwealth and I wish her the best in her next job," the governor replied.

“Will you answer the question?” Layne asked.

“Yes, next!” the governor said in response.

Criticism for Recent Missteps

The Department of Education has faced criticism for recent missteps, including an error in a mathematical formula the agency provides to local K-12 school divisions that led schools to expect more state funding than they were set to receive.

Immediately following Wednesday's announcement, Youngkin's press office did not respond to a question from The Associated Press about whether the governor asked Balow to step down, instead offering a one-sentence statement.

“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," spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said.

Youngkin campaigned heavily on educational issues, a focus that was seen as key to his victory over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in 2021. Since taking office, he has signed legislation to end classroom mask mandates, issued reports on “ divisive concepts ” and falling student achievement; and has sought to expand school choice, facing pushback from Senate Democrats.

At the same time, he's expressed disappointment in the various department missteps.

He called the funding calculation error “frustrating for all of us” in a letter to legislative leaders.

The education department has also faced criticism for its proposed rewrite of the state's history standards, which Youngkin acknowledged contained “omissions and mistakes.”

Balow issued a public apology for part of the standards that referred to Native Americans as “America’s first immigrants.”

In her resignation letter, which did not address any of those issues, Balow indicated that she planned to stay in Virginia for the foreseeable future.

She wrote that she appreciated an apparent offer to continue to work with the administration as a consultant. Her resignation is effective March 9, according to the news release.

Balow took office the day Youngkin was sworn in. She had previously twice been elected as Wyoming's state superintendent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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