Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction resigns

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 12:12 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow is resigning, just over a year after taking the position.

In a letter to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-Virginia) she said “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.”

“On the other hand,” she wrote, “I am writing to inform you that I am submitting my resignation as Virginia’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

Balow’s letter did not say why she’s stepping aside, but she has faced strong criticism, especially for a controversial revision of history and social studies standards.

A recent mistake in an online forecasting tool on the Virginia Department of Education website led the General Assembly to take action to ensure no school division would receive less state funding than the original estimate.

Balow said she will continue to serve as a consultant on K-12 policy, but her resignation takes effect on March 9.


Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow has resigned, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

Without offering a specific reason for leaving, Balow announced her resignation in a letter to Governor Glenn Youngkin Wednesday morning.

“I am particularly proud of the fact that we advanced your agenda for education over the past two successful General Assembly sessions,” Balow said. “First, we passed and began implementing the Virginia Literacy Act, which I know will have a lasting impact on all students for years to come and be a model for other states. Second, we released the report ‘Our Commitment to Virginians,’ which is a roadmap for school and student success, and for parents to be their child’s most important teacher. And because of our work, many more students will have access to career and technical education courses that better prepare them for the next steps in their lives.”

The Associated Press writes:

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. Youngkin’s press office has not responded to a question from The Associated Press about whether the governor asked Balow to step down, instead offering a one-sentence statement thanking Balow for her service.

Balow was appointed as Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction in January 2022. She previously served as the Wyoming state superintendent, where she was elected twice, before coming to Virginia.

Dr. James J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association union, offered this statement:

The resignation of Superintendent Balow is not unexpected. Her tenure has been marred by a series of scandals, poor judgment, and overall inexperience. In the wake of her departure, 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.

Specifically on the issue of the revised history standards, which are now more than eight months behind schedule, we sincerely hope the Youngkin administration does not use the departure of Superintendent Balow as an excuse to further delay resolution. It is critical that these standards be finalized so that educators and curriculum planners have adequate time to include the new standards in lesson preparation. Students deserve a high quality history curriculum and that can’t happen if the Youngkin administration uses every opportunity to kick the can down the road with new excuses for delays. There is ample time to review public feedback and be prepared to vote on finalization at the April meeting of the Virginia Board of Education.

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. As always, VEA stands ready to offer our recommendations and expertise to Governor Youngkin on this important appointment. While many mistakes have been made, this is the time to look ahead and do what is right for all of Virginia’s students.