First in Future: Duke Sanford School of Public Policy Professor Ken Dodge

Summary: Did North Carolina’s investments in pre-kindergarten programs like SmartStart make a difference for our state’s children? How long did the effects last? Did they make a substantial difference in the lives of the children?

This week’s First in Future podcast guest, Ken Dodge, answers these questions. Dodge, a professor at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, has studied the impact of our state’s early childhood investments by examining their effects on every student who has been through NC public schools since 1995.

This installment of First in Future is part of a special TV series produced in collaboration with UNC-TV, and recorded in UNC-TV’s Legislative Studio in downtown Raleigh. Taped segments will air on the North Carolina Channel. Visit for specific air dates.

Excerpts:“What is our education system designed to do? Is it designed to teach academic learning and cognitive skills or is it designed to teach children how to live in a democratic society?”

Book recommendations:   There are no children here by Alex Kotlowitz

What key issues should we be working on within the next couple of years to make North Carolina a better place? The next couple of years we have an urgent need in our K-12 system. Not enough of the bright minds in college are going into teaching in North Carolina and we need to turn that around.

What do we need to focus on to be ready for the next 20 years?“I would start earlier in life and in 20 years think about how we really want to prepare the children who are born in the year 2020 and what they will be like in the year 2040 and invest wisely in coherent systems.”

Next great North Carolinian to watch? Adeal Yazgun a Duke University undergrad student

Listen to the podcast: