Virginia Association of School Superintendents President Acknowledges Letter Criticizing Youngkin Represents Only ‘the Majority of Our Board’

Superintendent of Wyoming Jillian Balow

A letter published last Friday on behalf of Virginia’s school superintendents to Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow represents a majority of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) board, not the feelings of all 133 superintendents, VASS President Dr. Zebedee Talley, Jr. told John Reid on WRVA on Wednesday. The letter criticized the Youngkin administration’s removal of equity material, and Democrats and initial media reports suggested that the letter represented unanimous support from the superintendents. That led to a week of outcry from Virginia Republicans and conservative media.

“I think people have taken this and just gone way off course,” Talley told Reid.

“It simply expresses some concerns, and it is not all 133 superintendents who feel this way. If you get ten people in the room, you know, two people don’t agree on everything,” Talley said.

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Wason Center Poll Finds Slight Majority Disapproval of Youngkin’s Job Performance

A Wason Center/Christopher Newport University Poll found Governor Glenn Youngkin’s current job approval trailing slightly, with 41 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval. Forty-five percent of voters polled said Virginia is heading in the right direction, and 41 percent say it is headed in the wrong direction. Both results are within the poll’s plus-or-minus 4.2 percent margin of error. The Center reported that those results fall largely along partisan lines — 80 percent of Republicans say Virginia is going in the right direction, while only 22 percent of Democrats said the same. Key Republican initiatives got mixed results.

“In this highly polarized environment, we see partisans running to their corners on how they view the direction of the Commonwealth and the job of the governor,” Academic Director of the Wason Center Quentin Kidd said in a press release. “Youngkin’s approval numbers are certainly lower than those of recent governors in Wason Center polling early in their term.”

“These polls were wrong during the campaign and are wrong now,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement. “Virginians endorsed Governor Youngkin’s grocery tax plan so overwhelmingly that outgoing Governor Northam included it in his budget proposal. Governor Youngkin’s initiatives have received bipartisan support and he looks forward to delivering on more promises that he made during the campaign.”

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Checks and Balances Project Attracts Criticism over Links to Public Relations Firm

Sentara Norfolk General

Watchdog blog the Checks and Balances Project (CBP) is facing criticism over its links to the Tigercomm public relations firm. On November 9, 2020, the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) signed a contract with Tigercomm during a conflict with major Virginia health care network, Sentara. On November 13, CBP published its first story about Sentara. This month, The Washington Post and The Virginian-Pilot reported on the ties between Tigercomm and CBP.

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Delegates Receive $8,651 Average in Per Diems from 2021 Sessions

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates earn $17,640 per year and a per diem of $211 while in session, including days off during the session. The per diem is meant to help legislators pay for housing costs ($145/day) and food ($66/day) while in Richmond, but legislators have continued accepting the per diem even during the virtual house sessions of 2021 and 2020. For the 2021 sessions alone, that added up to an average total per diem per delegate of $8,651 — over $800,000 for all 100 delegates, according to reporting by The Virginian-Pilot.

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