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Youngkin names Wyoming schools leader as superintendent of public instruction

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RICHMOND — Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin on Thursday named Jillian Balow, Wyoming’s superintendent of public instruction, to hold the same role in his administration.

Balow, who spent 10 years as a teacher, is stepping down from the elected post in Wyoming, where she is in her second term leading the state’s schools.

The incoming governor named Elizabeth Schultz of Fairfax County, a former U.S. Department of Education official, as assistant superintendent of public instruction.

“Jillian and Elizabeth are going to be crucial in helping Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera restore excellence in education,” Youngkin said in a statement.

“Under my direction, they will get to work on ensuring our schools remain safely open, ban critical race theory and political agendas from our classrooms, and rebuild our crumbling schools.”

Youngkin, who takes office Saturday as Virginia’s 74th governor, stressed parents’ rights in education in his successful campaign against Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Youngkin says he wants to greatly expand the number of charter schools in the state and require school resource officers in public schools. He also says he wants to prohibit “critical race theory,” a term some Republicans use in referring to education about systemic racism. He also has called for pay raises for teachers.

Balow succeeds James Lane, who announced last month that he was stepping down. Lane, whom outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam appointed in 2018, is a former division superintendent in Chesterfield, Goochland and Middlesex counties.

According to the Wyoming Department of Education, Balow led efforts to add computer science as required academic content or all students, “incorporated career and military readiness into Wyoming’s statewide accountability model for the first time,” and worked to strengthen Wyoming’s “early literacy laws” in order to “help ensure all students read at or above grade level.”

The Wyoming website says Balow believes “small government is best.”

The superintendent’s biography says she is a fifth generation Wyoming native, with a degree in education from the University of Wyoming and a master’s in education from Regis University. She is a member of the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees and her husband, John, is a principal at an elementary school.

The bio also notes that Balow is a hunter and co-chair of the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt.

The Youngkin team detailed more than 30 other appointments Thursday evening.

Names with which some readers might be familiar include Nicole Riley, Virginia state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, as deputy secretary of labor; Garrison Coward, who lost a 2019 run for the House of Delegates to Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, as deputy secretary of commerce and trade; and Colleen Messick, executive director of the Virginia Capitol Foundation, as chief of staff to first lady Suzanne Youngkin.

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