Business leaders ask for new ideas

By Ali Cicerchi

Students who have ideas about improving their education now have an opportunity to take action.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is seeking ideas from citizens and students to improve the state. With that initiative in mind, the chamber developed “A New Agenda for Kentucky” to collect and promote proposals.

Proposed ideas will be given to the governor-elect in December, according to the New Agenda press release.

“Students have the edge on what’s going on today with technology and everything,” said chamber spokeswoman Jessica Fletcher. “I think they (students) might know a little bit more than some older generations.”

New Agenda hopes to “encourage creative thinking and a fresh approach to meeting the many challenges that persist in the Commonwealth, particularly those related to education,” according to New Agenda’s Web site.

Danny Murphy, a Lexington lawyer and a member of the 23-person task force that will finalize the list of ideas, thinks the project is significant to students.

“Students should get involved because it will affect their future,” Murphy said. “They are the future leaders.”

Improving Kentucky education would keep those future leaders in the state, he said.

“We don’t want them to take their knowledge and skills to other states, so we’re hoping to come up with ideas to keep them here,” Murphy said.

In addition to creating the New Agenda project, the chamber formed a postsecondary-education task force that held nine forums throughout the state over the summer to discuss the future of Kentucky colleges with business leaders across the state. Fletcher said the two projects are unrelated, though they both aim to improve postsecondary education.

Each month, the New Agenda’s Web site posts a submitted idea as the “Idea of the Month.” April’s idea was to legalize alcohol sales throughout the state. The submitter suggested that alcohol sales would improve Kentucky’s economy and make the state more appealing to visitors.

Another idea was to get rid of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) for K-12 and find a new way to assess the education of students.

Although submitted ideas have addressed a span of statewide problems, many have focused on education, the high costs of tuition and the need for more scholarships, Fletcher said.

New Agenda has three guidelines: The ideas should be relevant to Kentuckians, focus on the future and think beyond the government.

Students can submit their ideas on the New Agenda Web site (