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When people gather at conferences these days, trying to solve knotty world problems, someone often presents a solution, then qualifies it by saying, �Now, of course this is no silver bullet.�

No one wants to claim their idea will solve all problems.

So it sounded surprising to hear state Rep. Jody Richards say at a conference on Kentucky�s future, �Education is the silver bullet.�

Studies and statistics show that the more education people have, the better off they are in all sorts of areas, from income to health to economic development. Gov. Fletcher has consistently said education is among his top priorities, and last fall announced a plan to build on Kentucky�s educational improvements.

In the 1980s, I read a report analyzing the reasons some parts of the country were doing well in the then-new high-tech industry. That study observed that the top technology centers were located near the nation�s top universities.

The same conference where Rep. Richards made his comment also heard trend-watcher Ed Barlow describe, beg, and even scold about giving more attention to education.

Barlow said that with the profound changes taking place in science and society, Kentucky needs to be educating students for jobs that don�t even exist today. That means students need to learn how to learn. And to keep learning their whole lives.

He said talk of support needs to be backed up with action.

�You can�t tax-cut your way to better education,� he told the meeting of state leaders late last year. �You�ve got to invest more in education, including teachers� salaries.�

Electric co-ops in Kentucky have long supported education efforts, most notably through different scholarship programs at a state level, and at each of the 24 local co-ops.

As the electric co-op magazine, Kentucky Living adds to that support by making education the special focus in two issues each year�February and September.

This month we�re picking up on some of what Ed Barlow said. In this issue, you�ll find a story on some unusual areas of study�preparing people for jobs they might not have even thought of just a few years ago. In another feature, we look at the notion of lifelong learning, as more and more adults go back to school.

Education is the silver bullet. Or as the state slogan says, �Education pays.�

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