Constitution Day, celebrated Sept 17th, commemorates the formation and the signing of the U.S. Constitution. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which provides men and women with equal voting rights. The amendment states that the right of citizens to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” As their way of honoring the day, Bristol High School students studying AP US History and those enrolled in the AVID 11 program were able to participate in a lively discussion with past and current Bucks professors, a Bucks student, and a member of the League of Women Voters.
Bristol students kept panel members on their toes with questions such as, “If you could currently add any amendment to the constitution,what would it be?” and “Doesn’t enforcing a mandatory quota on the hiring of women defeat the purpose of true equality?” Their questions were met by thought provoking insights from a range of perspectives. In preparation for the event, students read a variety of background materials and many were surprised to learn some startling facts about the advancement of equal rights. For example, prior to 1974, women couldn’t get credit cards in their own names. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 gave women that right, forcing credit card companies to issue cards to women without a husband’s signature. In today’s world of plastic cash, this fact was shocking to both male and female high school students. One female student, currently considering a future in the military, was astounded to learn that the ban against women in military combat positions was only removed six years ago in 2013. Even more surprising to the BHS students was that the ERA which states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” has been in Congressional limbo since 1923, and still needs one more state to ratify the amendment before it can be added to the Constitution. The overall impression left on the students by the all-female panel prompted deep critical thinking and self-reflection about their roles in affecting Constitutional change.
Bristol High School’s close location to the Epstein Campus makes collaboration between the high school and community college a frequent perk in the learning and experiences of our students.