College Board Snags Gates Veteran Stefanie Sanford

Twin announcements yesterday by the College Board and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation brought the exciting news that veteran Gates “advocacy” chief Stefanie Sanford is moving along (on March 1, 2013) to join David Coleman as the College Board’s new head of policy, advocacy, and government relations.

They are two of the smartest, widest-ranging, most imaginative, and (in a good way) relentless people in American education and together will make a formidable team.

The College Board will re-appear as a lead actor on the ed-reform policy stage—Coleman outlined the new direction in a remarkable inaugural address—and we are apt to see it spearheading major developments in both K–12 and higher education. An energized and reformist  College Board—not visible in recent years—has the potential for perhaps even more promising actions in the intersection between the two sectors: getting more kids ready to succeed in college, then entered into the college that’s right for them at a price they can afford, then persevering and succeeding once there.

The College Board has permeated deeply into American education (think the SAT and AP exams, for starters), enjoys wide respect and legitimacy, and generates its own revenues. It’s got a great deal of potential in this realm. As for the Gates Foundation, Dr. Sanford is a major loss, but they have a strong bench and will doubtless add to it. Whether they can retain the breadth of vision of what smart advocacy looks like and can accomplish—well, let’s keep fingers and toes crossed.

-Chester E. Finn, Jr.

This blog entry first appeared on the Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog.

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