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Wyoming state superintendent to take Virginia’s top K-12 job

Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow
WDE
Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming’s state superintendent of public instruction is resigning effective Sunday to become the head of Virginia’s public school system.

Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has named Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow to replace Rosa Atkins, who has been Virginia's acting state superintendent since James Lane’s resignation in late December.

Balow and Youngkin are both Republicans.

Both have spoken against critical race theory, a way of thinking about U.S. history through the lens of racism.

Balow is a past president of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

She was elected Wyoming's state superintendent in 2014 with 61% of the vote and was unopposed for re-election in 2018.

“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. 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. 

“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. 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.

“As State Superintendent, I made parent voice a priority by including parents in our policy making decisions, such as state standards review committees. We pushed through the Capitol inertia to pass historic Computer Science education requirements for K-12 public schools, greatly enriching and modernizing the curriculum delivered to our students. I have always been an advocate for school choice, and at times, chosen to place my own children in private school. I supported groundbreaking legislation during the 2021 session of the Wyoming legislature to substantially increase the opportunity for charter schools to form in our state. And 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. 

“I started my teaching career in the small town of Hulett, Wyoming, population 386. From there I have built a 25-year career in education and politics, serving as a national literacy consultant, an executive in state government, a policy advisor in the governor’s office, and now the elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction. I have served in leadership positions of national education organizations and led through COVID-19 with the highest percentage of students learning in-person in the nation. I am ready and more motivated than ever to engage at this critical time in our nation’s history serving alongside Governor-elect Youngkin as he leads Virginia through this historic opportunity to reset and restore public education with parents and students as the priority.”

Wyoming State Superintendent Jillian Balow

Governor Gordon has issued the following statement thanking Superintendent Jillian Balow for her service to the state. 

“I have enjoyed working alongside Superintendent Balow for the past seven years in my roles as Treasurer and Governor, making her the second-longest currently serving statewide elected officer. We will miss her experience and expertise. She has worked to improve our state’s education system, and I thank her for her efforts. Her service to the State has been exemplary, and I wish her well in her new role.”

Associated Press

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