McKenzie Snow, a former aide to Trump’s U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, is Virginia’s new Deputy Secretary of Education appointee. Snow is Youngkin’s latest education appointee and continues Youngkin’s pattern of conservative picks for the Department of Education.
“The Governor has built a team who have been leaders and change agents in their fields. McKenzie knows firsthand what it takes to build a best-in-class education system, and we are thrilled to have McKenzie join the administration,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said.
Virginia Democrats reacted with alarm after The Virginia Mercury reported the pick.
In a Democratic Party of Virginia press release, State Senator Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield) said, “Ms. Snow’s time in the Trump administration was spent abetting racial and gender identity discrimination in America’s schools, promoting the siphoning of public school funds in favor of elitist private schools, and allowing predatory for-profit schools to rip off vulnerable students and their families. Bringing this destructive legacy to Virginia will only harm our students and schools, and in turn, Virginia’s future.”
Snow is a school choice advocate and worked as a policy analyst in education choice for the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. After working for DeVos, in 2021 Snow became the division director of Learner Support in the New Hampshire Department of Education.
While at FEE, she called for the federal government to make Title I federal education aid funding to states flexible, including allowing funding to be sent to parents of children at private schools.
“The recent inauguration of President Donald Trump and nomination of Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos has engendered an unprecedented opportunity for the federal government to support the success of school choice in the states,” she wrote in 2017.
School choice is a key piece of Youngkin’s policy goals, one which has largely been stymied in the General Assembly. Some Democrats fear that school choice proposals effectively remove funds from public schools.
In a press release, FEE CEO Patricia Levesque praised Youngkin’s appointment of Snow: ” Virginia families are lucky to have another principled education professional join Gov. Youngkin’s education team under the leadership of Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera. Across her work here at ExcelinEd, in the U.S. and New Hampshire Departments of Education and teaching at South Africa’s University of the Free State as a Fulbright scholar, McKenzie has demonstrated her commitment to learners, educators and championing commonsense policy. We applaud Gov. Youngkin for hiring such talented and dedicated professionals, and we applaud his leadership and dedication to enacting a student-centered education agenda.”
Porter provided a statement from New Hampshire Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Christine Brennan:
“Throughout her career, McKenzie has worked to improve education opportunity for all students alongside families and educators,” Brennan said. “I have 35 years of education experience as a teacher, literacy specialist, and principal, and I know that McKenzie put students and educators first.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin. Background Photo “James Monroe Building” by Hendronjohn. CC BY-SA 4.0.