#DearMrPresident About That 20

A year ago, I blogged about a group of homeschool kids in New England that started a petition to have Andrew Jackson’s picture taken off the $20 bill. (You can find a bunch of Everyday Learning ideas about Andrew Jackson at the original blog post.) Sure, Jackson was the — President of the United States, but he really wasn’t all that great of a decent human being.

The push to have Jackson’s portrait taken off the twenty has been around for some time. But, with the power of social media and the Women on 20s website, this campaign has reached a whole new level.


Agree or disagree, you can harness this hot topic into a fascinating learning journey.

Everyday Learning With a $20 Bill:

  • No record reportedly exists for why certain individuals were selected to be on different denominations, but see if you can make an educated guess after reading the White House’s presidential biographies. You can also talk about why Ben Franklin – who was not a president – was honored with a portrait.

    Check out the Federal Reserve’s free downloadable lesson plan that explores this exact question, if you want to save some planning time.

    • $1: George Washington
    • $2: Thomas Jefferson
    • $5: Abraham Lincoln
    • $10: Alexander Hamilton
    • $20: Andrew Jackson
    • $50: Ulysses S. Grant
    • $100: Benjamin Franklin
  • Read about how the U.S. Treasury Department designs paper currency. Enlarge a photocopy of the front and backsides of a dollar bill. Have your kids identify each of the symbols with a 1 or 2 sentence explanation of what they mean.
  • Take a look at the list of nominated women. Pick 3 names that are unfamiliar. Research them and create a poster that lists 5 interesting facts about each woman.
    • Harriet Tubman*
    • Wilma Mankiller*
    • Rosa Parks*
    • Eleanor Roosevelt*
    • Susan B. Anthony
    • Clara Barton
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
    • Rachel Carson
    • Shirley Chisholm
    • Betty Friedan
    • Barbara Jordan
    • Patsy Mink
    • Alice Paul
    • Frances Perkins
    • Margaret Sanger
    • Sojourner Truth
      * – Voted as one of 4 finalists on the Womens on 20 national poll
  • What about paper currency in other countries? Do they only feature past presidents and kings? Do any of them have a woman featured on their money? How often have other countries changed the portrait of who has been featured on their money? You can start with the Bank of England and compare their banknotes to American dollars. You can make a chart that compares and contrasts the answers to these questions across the different countries that you research.
  • Discuss or debate which criteria is more important in determining who should be featured on paper currency. For example: Should only elected officials be honored? How do you measure patriotism across different centuries? If you’re basing your criteria on humanitarian good, how many people should have benefited from a person’s achievements?

    There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. What you’re looking for, however, is the ability to back up your criteria picks with good reasons – not just emotions or opinions – and to be consistent with your reasoning across the selection of every person featured on paper currency.

Do you think Andrew Jackson should be replaced on the $20 bill? How else are you exploring this topic with your kids?



Alessa Giampaolo Keener, M.Ed. works with clients around the world in developing individualized learning plans that value the strengths and weaknesses of the whole child. While her focus has long been on the social-emotional needs of the gifted child, Alessa also works with governmental agencies in helping to meet the educational needs of children in foster care, as well as those involved in the juvenile justice system. Alessa lives in Maryland, where she homeschooled her kids into college. You can email Alessa at alessa.education (at) gmail.com