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Editorial: Small school project has huge payoff that reflects well on what we stand for

During the school district's recent Education Summit, a group of more than 80 participants brainstormed their way to listing the district's strengths and weaknesses.

Points two, three and five of those weaknesses were: "Not enabling students to become world citizens and stewards"/"Students not learning 21st century competencies, such as lifelong learning"/ and "Greater need to develop intellectual curiosity beyond standardized testing."

We're not going to pick apart these weaknesses nor say if they truly apply to River Falls schools. But we can say that Westside Elementary's "Pennies for Pakistan" project, featured on the front page of last week's Journal, is the mother of all educational models that answers those criticisms.

Being exposed to an impoverished region lacking schools on the other side of the globe, Westside students learned about geography, politics, religion, social studies and the inherent value of an education. By collecting pennies to eliminate the school shortage, those students learned a practical lesson that small actions can produce big results.

Westside has followed its fundraising campaign for Pakistani schools by supporting other people in need, including those harmed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the August 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; and the December 2004 destructive tsunami near Indonesia. The school has also continued to follow and support Pennies for Pakistan, which is now called Pennies for Peace and draws fundraising from schools worldwide.

With Pakistan and Afghanistan still the focus today because of terrorism, religious strife, nuclear weapons, women's education and the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops, Westside students, their parents and many people in River Falls can't help but pay more attention to events over there.

Our school district won't always be able to generate educational projects as far reaching as Pennies for Pakistan/Peace. But we can take pride and be encouraged that such a project had its birth right here. That speaks highly of the depth and quality of public education in River Falls.

Online Poll: Locally, stimulus support fizzles

It was the topic of President Barack Obama's Monday night press conference: The fate of the stimulus legislation in Congress and what should or shouldn't be done.

The Journal's online poll question this week asked: Philosophically, do you support a roughly $900-billion federal stimulus plan to jumpstart the economy or should we let market forces lift us out of the recession?

As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Journal online readers said:

  • Yes, we need government stimulus: 45.45%
  • No, we should wait for the economy to right itself: 54.55%

    To vote and read local news updates, go to

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