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On the Money

The U.S. Constitution may soon be tucked into wallets if students at Liberty Middle School in Ashland, Va., have their way.

Students from Randy Wright's 7th and 8th grade civics classes at the 1,150- student school have been petitioning for almost four years to have an abbreviated version of the document printed on the back of the $1 bill.

"It started in my classes. I had my students reciting portions of the Constitution aloud. So many people know so little about the Constitution, and I said to the kids, 'Wouldn't it be great to reach out to all those people?'" Mr. Wright said. "I saw their eyes light up, and we started brainstorming."

That led to a rough version of the Liberty Bill Act, which Mr. Wright and his students proposed in 1997. Then-U.S. Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr., R-Va., championed the idea during the 106th Congress, but the measure never made the House floor because of minor cost issues. Problems involving the reprogramming of vending machines also raised concern. But students at Liberty refused to give up.

This year, they rallied behind the bill yet again and gained the support of Mr. Bliley's successor, Rep. Eric Cantor, also a Republican.

Jenn Mascott, Mr. Cantor's spokeswoman, said the new legislation should get a lot more attention. The idea was expanded to include all Federal Reserve notes, not just the $1 bill. Mr. Cantor serves on the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, and the entire Virginia delegation in the House has agreed to support it.

With so much backing in their home state, Liberty students began lobbying for support across the country. Mr. Wright and his students traveled to Washington last week to lobby the House committee and the deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs.

If the proposed Liberty Bill Act becomes law, all U.S. paper currency printed after Dec. 31, 2001, will feature the Constitution's preamble and a listing of its articles and amendments.

—Marianne Hurst

Vol. 20, Issue 39, Page 3

Published in Print: June 6, 2001, as Take Note

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