3/9/2023, 6 p.m.
Just the facts.
That’s all that voters and television viewers want from Gov. Glenn Youngkin. And a little backbone and truth to go along with them.
Sadly, that’s not likely to happen as the Democratic Party of Virginia points out in a Wednesday evening news release titled, “First, Then, Now.”
The release (and its target) comes close to channeling one of Chris Rock’s zingers in his new Netflix comedy special. Like Mr. Rock’s brash, in-your-face routines, the release gets straight to the point.
“Youngkin’s Superintendent Scandal (So Far). First, thanks to Governor Youngkin’s astonishing incompetence, K-12 schools across the Commonwealth lost $201 million in state funding.”
It gets better.
“Then, a full three months later, Youngkin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, resigned her post, without explanation. Jillian Balow’s last day is March 9, the same day that Youngkin takes his roadshow of disasters to the national stage, joining Jake Tapper for a CNN Town Hall.
Last week’s Free Press featured an Associated Press article regarding Ms. Balow’s resignation in a letter to the governor that did not offer a specific reason for her departure. The AP article noted that the state’s 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.
“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,” Ms. Balow wrote in her letter.
Gov. Youngkin’s press office did not respond to a question from The Associated Press about whether the governor asked Ms. Balow to step down, instead offering a one-sentence statement thanking her for her service.
The announcement didn’t go unnoticed by Virginia Democrats and neither did the governor’s failure to respond to the question.
“Meanwhile, the Virginia Republican Party dismissed the concerns of families and educators, calling the unusual and murky departure of Ms. Balow a “routine staff turnover,” according to the Virginia Democratic Party news release.
The release continues to note, “Now, Glenn Youngkin refuses to answer to Virginian parents, teachers, and students. When asked directly by CBS 6, Glenn Youngkin refused to answer whether or not he asked for Barlow’s resignation – not once, not twice, but three separate times.”
Switch to the news release’s embedded video, click and listen to the governor’s attempt to answer a journalist’s question without answering the simple question: “Did you ask for her resignation?”
Showing his growing mastery of evasion, smooth talking and/or arrogance, here is how Virginia’s governor responded:
“So, first of all I want to thank the superintendent for her commitment to the Commonwealth. She stood for excellence ... she loves kids. I couldn’t ask for a better qualified (person). I wish her the best in all that she’s doing. One of the most important things we recognize is ... learning loss during the pandemic. We have got to build back high expectations.”
The question is repeated.
The governor again evades the question, giving his own idea of an answer.
“We have got to build back high expectations,” he said, looking as earnest as he could muster. “We’re moving to find the next state superintendent of education. Part of what we are managing right now is a big transition ... education is hugely important ... We want to make sure we have the best person we can to do that. I’m just so appreciative of the superintendent’s commitment to the Commonwealth.
“Will you answer the question,” the journalist asked?
“Yes, next,” the governor responded. Ahhhh. Slick.
Liam Watson, the Democratic Party’s press secretary, fails to mince words in his assessment of Gov. Youngkin’s response ... or lack thereof.
“Virginia’s parents, teachers, and students all deserve better. They deserve better than Youngkin’s incompetence and they deserve better than his deflections and lies.”
Drop the mic.