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Jillian Balow has to go

The below was published in the Richmond Times Dispatch on February 4th, 2023.

When Jillian Balow arrived in January 2022 as state superintendent of instruction, there were three major issues facing Virginia schools: the pandemic recovery, teacher shortages and revisions to the history and social sciences standards.

Pandemic recovery is being addressed by local districts with federal funds and grants. The teacher shortage has been worsened by Balow’s implementation of Executive Order 1, throwing teachers into a double-bind between the standards and being fired over the “anti-divisive” mandate.

The history and social sciences standards are another glaring failure. For seven months Balow gave little attention to the revised standards, which came nearly complete from two years of staff and historical experts' work. In August 2022, Balow asked the Virginia Board of Education not to approve because she wanted time to proof for typos and grammar.

In September she asked for another delay. When she presented a new draft in November 2022, it appeared to be a 68-page cut-and-paste from conservative internet sources.

The draft was so chaotic and developmentally inappropriate even the consultant hired to edit it sent a letter acknowledging "the hastily and irresponsibly prepared" nature of the project.

On Jan. 5, a third 60-ish page version was released, with a community standard calling for 5-year-olds to “recognize cause and effect relationships” and “use decision making models such as T-charts and Venn diagrams to make informed economic decisions.” Those are a set of planning tasks most children’s prefrontal cortexes are not able to do until age 6 or later. The Board of Education voted to advance the draft version of the history standards on Feb. 2.

Balow’s biggest problems are lack of knowledge about children and educational standards, and her managerial incompetence. It is time for her to resign or be dismissed.


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