Anne Holton has stepped down as Virginia’s education secretary following the selection of her husband, Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.), as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
Clinton announced Friday that Kaine, former mayor of Richmond and former governor of Virginia, would join her presidential campaign as her vice-presidential choice. In her announcement, Clinton praised Holton’s work in Virginia.
Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) lauded Holton’s service, highlighting her work to reform the state’s standardized testing regime — known as Standards of Learning or SOL — and to raise education funding.
“During her tenure, Anne has been a constant and powerful voice for students, teachers and schools, and her lifelong dedication to serving Virginia’s young people, especially the children at the margins, has had a lasting impact in the Commonwealth,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Over the past two years, we have worked together to achieve significant accomplishments, including substantial investments in K-12 and higher education, innovative SOL reform, and life-changing work in some of Virginia’s most challenged school divisions.”
Holton and Kaine have both been powerful advocates for education. Kaine championed early childhood education as governor of Virginia, and that has been a centerpiece of Clinton’s education platform. As first lady of Virginia, Holton advocated for finding stable homes for teens in foster care.
McAuliffe tapped Holton, a longtime advocate for foster youth and a former juvenile court judge, to serve as the commonwealth’s education secretary two years ago.
“Anne Holton’s lifetime of experience with Virginia’s public schools, her public service on behalf of Virginia’s students and her passion for creating opportunity for all of our kids make her the best choice to be the secretary of education in the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said at the time.
Holton has a long and deep history with Virginia education. The daughter of Virginia Gov. A. Linwood Holton (R), a well-known champion of integration, she and her sister attended a historically all-black Richmond City public school in the 1970s.
“I have spent much of my working life focused on children and families at the margin, with full appreciation of the crucial role education can and must play in helping young people escape poverty and become successful adults,” Holton wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in June 2015.
She met her husband at Harvard Law School, from which they both graduated, and later represented low-income clients in Richmond as a legal aid lawyer. She later became a judge in the juvenile and domestic relations court, stepping down when her husband ran for governor.
Holton officially resigned as education secretary effective Monday. Dietra Trent, the state’s former deputy secretary of education, replaces her. Trent previously served as deputy education secretary under Kaine and director of constituent services and of the council on human rights under Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).