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WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

'Building A Mini-Silicon Valley': Ex-Gov. Perdue Launches Digital Learning Initiative

Governor Bev Perdue
NC Governor's Office

A year after leaving office, former Governor Bev Perdue is returning to the public stage with the launch of a new project focused on digital learning. 

In partnership with Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer, Perdue founded the Digital Learning Institute, dubbed DigiLEARN. She says the idea is to bring together teachers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and students to develop the most effective digital learning tools.

With the new electronic technology, the non-profit organization will aim to increase personal learning options for students and expand instructional opportunities for teachers. 

A former public school teacher herself, Perdue says students need to catch up with the digital landscape:

The only big institution that hadn't changed is education and that's why everybody - educators, investors - feel like this is the great, new frontier. And it offers tremendous opportunity for our kids to be global, world-class learners.

Perdue says DigiLEARN will help identify how technology can be best used, then encourage technology start-ups and entrepreneurs to develop it for classroom use across grades. 

There's this whole idea of building a mini-silicon valley on the east coast, anchored out of North Carolina where some of this technology innovation can happen.

The Democrat from New Bern was elected North Carolina's first female governor in 2008 and left office last year after choosing to not seek re-election. Since then, Perdue has spent her time on the campuses of Duke and Harvard universities and started a consulting firm.

While in office, Perdue focused greatly on digital learning expansion and helped create the North Carolina Public Virtual School, where thousands of students take online classes. 

She says her new initiative will reach a national scale, as she's working and receiving guidance from leaders across the country. 

The DigiLEARN board includes, among others, former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, former National Education Association executive director John Wilson and the CEOs of the Research Triangle Foundation broadband infrastructure provider MCNC. 


Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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