December 13, 2016 Steve Wade

Dispatch Education Insider :Abigail Wexner-founded KidsOhio policy group to close after 15 years will be ceasing operations on December 31, 2016 after nearly 15 years of providing nonpartisan research, publications and public policy work in education reform. Our sincerest thanks to our board, funders and former staff for making all of this work possible. We look forward to the next chapter of continuing our work in the central Ohio community.

We also thank The Columbus Dispatch for their supportive article in Education Insider on Wednesday November 23, 2016  & Editorial December 4, 2016. and

Education Insider: Abigail Wexner-founded KidsOhio policy group to close after 15 years

Wednesday November 23, 2016 8:30 AM

After 15 years, is going out of business at year’s end. The nonpartisan organization was founded in 2002 by Abigail Wexner to analyze complex education data and work to improve public schools.

President Mark Real let people know in a KidsOhio Closing Letter “My longtime colleague Mary Hopmann and I will settle accounts and close the office. … Our website will remain open for the next two years so readers can access past reports.”

Real explained on Tuesday that there had been a three-year discussion among the group’s financial backers about forming a single education organization. FutureReady Columbus, formed in July 2015, will be getting the funding going forward.

FutureReady’s board consists of Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther; former Mayor Michael B. Coleman; Columbus schools Superintendent Dan Good; Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown; David Harrison, president of Columbus State Community College; and George Barrett, chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health.

“I’m really fortunate,” Real said. “Fifteen years is a really long time in this business. … We feel good about that.”

Counting all seniors

The latest federal data on high school population trends include some good news for Ohio colleges and universities: The numbers of high school seniors (i.e., potential college freshmen) might not plunge as badly as expected in the next decade.

According to the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, the number of graduating seniors in Ohio will dip from a little more than 117,000 in 2017-18 to about 114,000 in 2022-23, but then remain flat for the foreseeable future.

That’s way better than the “near-catastrophic” decline, beginning in 2022, that was projected the last time the National Center for Education Statistics released projections, according to association Director Todd C. Jones.

Jones’ group, along with enrollment honchos at most higher-education institutions, keeps close watch on demographic projections because a shortage of potential students is making it difficult for tuition-dependent schools to keep their finances healthy.

They already have suffered a steep decline; according to preliminary numbers, the number of graduates fell from a peak of more than 124,000 in 2011 to about 116,000 in 2015. Virtually every financially struggling college has cited that decline as a factor.

“This is very good news for our state,” Jones said of the revised forecast. Perhaps in a Rivalry Week dig, he added, “As the old saying goes, at least we’re not Michigan — they’re still declining.”

Editorial: KidsOhio stood above the fray

Sunday December 4, 2016 5:00 AM

For 15 years, the education think tank called provided Ohio with credible, authoritative, objective and insightful analysis of educational issues, ranging from third-grade reading, to why parents value charter schools, to voter participation in education-related elections.

In a field filled with conflicting philosophies about education and sometimes bitter political fights over school funding, charter schools and testing, KidsOhio stood above the fray, offering clear and trustworthy data and conclusions. President Mark Real and colleague Mary Hopmann earned wide respect as they worked with all sides in many contentious areas of education.

In all, the agency produced more than 90 reports, and shining through each one is the love and concern that the board and staff feel for Ohio’s children. According to Real, the leaders of KidsOhio have decided that it now is time to use other means to advance education in Ohio.

Many thanks are owed to founder Abigail Wexner and the board of community leaders and the funders who made this work possible. And good luck to Real and Hopmann, who remain an invaluable resource for the advancement of education.