Former Wyoming Education Chief Balow Won’t Say Why She Abruptly Resigned As Virginia Superintendent

Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow who formerly held the same position in Wyoming won't say why she resigned from her post last week although the Virginia Dept of Education blasted her for "numerous unresolved messes created by her mishandling..."

Clair McFarland

March 07, 20233 min read

Jillian Balow AP 3 7 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Jillian Balow isn’t saying why she resigned as Virginia’s top education official.  

Neither is Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.  

The former Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction resigned from her appointed position as Virginia’s top education superintendent last week after more than a year in Youngkin’s administration.  

In an interview with Cowboy State Daily, Balow did not discuss her reasons for leaving, but she praised the work of the administration and reflected positively on the experience.  

“We did big work in Virginia education, exactly what I came to Virginia to do, and I’m really pleased with the initiatives we’ve launched and looking forward to some new opportunities,” she said.

She touted the Virginia Literacy Act and a parents-first education model as two great achievements realized during her service.  

Teacher’s Union

Balow’s resignation comes after the Virginia Department of Education faced criticism for an error in a mathematical formula on which K-12 schools based their funding expectations.  

Youngkin reportedly called the error “frustrating for all of us” in a letter to legislative leaders.  

The Virginia Education Association criticized Balow upon her resignation.

“The Department of Education and school divisions across the state will be left to clean up the numerous unresolved messes that have been created by her mishandling of the revised history standards, the anti-transgender model policies, the removal of equity resources despite teachers and administrators being evaluated on cultural competency, and the yet-to-be-resolved calculation error that has left a gaping $201 million hole in school divisions’ budgets statewide,” wrote the teacher’s union in a March 1 statement.

The teacher’s union called on Youngkin to appoint a new superintendent with “a deep background in our state K-12 funding formula.”  

Governor Hush 

Youngkin likewise dodged the question of whether he asked Balow to step down when a Virginia-based CBS 6 reporter confronted the governor repeatedly at a literacy event.  

Youngkin instead emphasized his gratitude for Balow and his commitment toward a smooth transition.  

Culture Wars In Education 

Balow took a pioneer’s stance on cultural issues in September 2021 when she publicly opposed the teaching of critical race theory in Wyoming schools. 

She backed Republican state Sen. Ogden Driskill’s education-transparency bill the Civics Transparency Act, which later failed in the 2022 state House Education Committee.  

Youngkin appointed Balow on Jan. 15, 2022, and on the same day signed Executive Order 1 – a pledge to restore excellence in education and rid the system of “divisive concepts,” including critical race theory.  

Balow said her mission was to emphasize civics education while not telling students what to think about the facts.  

Home, Later 

Balow said she and her family plan to stay in Virginia for now because her son still attends public school there, but they hope to come home to Wyoming eventually.  

“Our roots, of course, are in the West,” she said. “So we’ve always seen ourselves getting back to Wyoming, but right now we’re settled, we’re stable, so we’ll stay in Virginia.”  

She said she doesn’t know what opportunities she’ll pursue next but would like to share her experience “nationwide, in a different way – in a different capacity.”  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter