Youngkin taps critical race theory opponents to lead public education in Virginia
Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin has named two women with track records of opposing “critical race theory” — a once obscure collegiate field that’s become a conservative catch-all term for racial equity and diversity initiatives in public schools — to top posts at the Virginia Department of Education.
Jillian Balow, formerly Wyoming’s elected superintendent of public instruction, will take on the same job in Virginia, Youngkin announced in a news release Thursday.
Before stepping down to join Youngkin’s administration, Balow supported a proposed Wyoming bill that would require K-12 schools to publish lists of instructional materials, among other provisions. According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Balow endorsed the bill alongside its patrons, one of whom described the legislation as an effort to prevent “the indoctrination found in the critical race theory curriculum that has been pushed by the far-left and has found its way into some classrooms.”
Balow will be joined by Elizabeth Schultz, a former Fairfax School Board member who Youngkin appointed as Virginia’s assistant superintendent of public instruction. According to the release, Schultz served as a senior fellow for Parents Defending Education, a national organization formed to “reclaim our schools from activists promoting harmful agendas.” Multiple members of its leadership team were founding members of the Coalition for TJ, a group fighting admissions changes at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Before those changes, which included removing standardized test requirements, roughly three percent of incoming freshmen at the prestigious Northern Virginia governor’s school were Hispanic and fewer than 10 of those students were Black. Roughly 73 percent of incoming freshmen were of Asian heritage, according to the Washington Post.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.
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