LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The day after Virginia’s top education official submitted her resignation, Governor Glenn Youngkin responded to questions about the departure.
In a letter dated March 1, Virginia’s 26th Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, said she was “grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to serve the children and families of Virginia,” but that she was also resigning from her post. The departure takes effect Thursday, March 9, according to a release from the Department of Education (VDOE).
Balow declined 8News’ request for an interview on Wednesday. But, visiting Louisa County High School for Read Across America on Thursday, Gov. Youngkin said said he was thankful for her service.
“We have had severe learning loss, and that learning loss was caused by a lot of decisions that were made prior to the pandemic, and then exacerbated during the pandemic, and so, we have got to build back to high expectations,” he said. “We can lift the ceiling and the floor at the same time.”
When asked whether he requested her resignation, Gov. Youngkin declined to answer directly.
“Part of what we are managing right now is recognition — we have a big transition, and education is hugely important, and we want to make sure that we have the best person that we can to do that,” he said. “We’re moving forward to find the next state superintendent.”
The governor said that that process has just begun. In the interim, he noted that Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera would be stepping into the role.
“As soon as I know something, we’ll make sure everybody else knows,” Youngkin said. “But it’s a highly sought-after position, given the opportunities in Virginia.”
The governor, who campaigned heavily on education and parental rights, selected Balow as the Commonwealth’s education superintendent not long before being sworn into office. Balow will serve as a consultant for the Youngkin administration once she leaves the post next week.
In her resignation letter, Balow said she was proud of advancing Gov. Youngkin’s agenda: “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.”
During her tenure, amid controversy, the administration worked to revise state history standards, as well as policies on the treatment of transgender students. Gov. Youngkin said Thursday that Balow’s departure would not derail those efforts.
“What we have initiated over the course of the last year are bold measures in order to address learning loss, to raise expectations, to empower parents, and all of those continue to be our top priorities, and we’re going to continue to move forward with our whole agenda,” he told 8News.
Balow’s resignation letter did not state a reason for her departure, but said that she and her family would be staying in Virginia “for the foreseeable future.”