State schools superintendent Jillian Balow resigns for new job in Virginia – Casper Star-Tribune


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Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow announced Thursday that she is resigning her post to take on the same role in Virginia. Her last day is Sunday.“I am honored, and deeply humbled, to announce that Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has asked me to serve as Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction,” Balow said in a statement. “With a focused drive to lead on the front lines of educational transformation in this country, I have accepted. Therefore, I announce my resignation from the office of Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Serving as State Superintendent for the last seven years has been the greatest honor and challenge of my life.”Linda Finnerty, Balow’s communications director, declined to offer more details about the conversation between Balow and Youngkin.After a heated and closely watched election, Youngkin beat out former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. He is set to be inaugurated Saturday.“Governor-elect Youngkin made educational transformation the centerpiece of his campaign. There is no more serious time to be in K-12 education governance than now, and Virginia is on the cutting edge of this battle for the future of our public schools,” Balow’s statement continued. “The work we will do to restore parents’ voices in education, push for innovation and student success, enhance school choice, and to eliminate political ideology from the classroom will set a new tone in Virginia and the nation. We have made great progress on these very items during my tenure in Wyoming.”
One of Youngkin’s main campaign platforms — and arguably the one he was best known for — was his opposition to the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia classrooms. For this reason, Balow seems like an appropriate fit for his cabinet.In September, Balow appeared with two state lawmakers to introduce legislation to create an online directory listing all teaching materials and curriculum used in each school by grade level and subject. The superintendent was clear the bill was intended to challenge critical race theory, an academic framework for examining how racism is embedded in U.S. society.“When it comes to politics in the classroom, I’ve made my position crystal clear that partisan politics and radical theories should not be forced upon our children,” Balow said in her statement.At that September appearance, however, Balow acknowledged that critical race theory is not being taught in Wyoming schools.Finnerty declined to comment on how Balow’s views on critical race theory played into her decision to take a job in Youngkin’s office.Before Balow’s resignation announcement, there were rumors swirling that she may run for governor of Wyoming this year.The Wyoming Republican Party Central Committee will have 15 days to submit three candidates to Gov. Mark Gordon for consideration, according to a press release from the governor’s office. The governor will then have five days to appoint a new superintendent from the names submitted who will serve the remainder of Balow’s term, which ends in January 2023.Until Gordon makes a decision, Balow will be temporarily replaced by the chief policy officer at the state’s Department of Education, Kari Eakins.Balow started her teaching career in Hulett. In the 25 years since then, she has served as a national literacy consultant, an executive in state government, a policy advisor in the governor’s office, and now the state superintendent of public instruction. Under Balow, Wyoming’s schools remained in-person for most of the pandemic.Follow state politics reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis

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