Benefits of Debate

Debate is the most rigorous academic program. 

Debate teaches every academic subject (from current events to economics) and every academic skill (from research to public speaking). Debate doubles academic learning time: after school practices, weekend tournaments, after school tournaments, summer debate institutes, and daily research, reading and writing at home. Students are motivated like sports (fun, competition, awards, team) to learn on their own. 
“Those 4 years in debate were the educational foundation of everything I did. And I don’t mean that in some simple form…I’m saying the finest education I got from any of the institutions I attended, the foundation of my mind that I got during those 4 years of competitive policy debate; that is, 90% of the intellectual capacity that I operate with today–Fordham [University] for college, Fordham for the Ph.D., Harvard for law school–all of that is the other 10%.” - Jon Sexton, President of New York University

Jon Sexton, President of New York University, NYU Law School, and Champion High School Debate Coach of 10 years in Brooklyn. 

Debate Empowers Youth

Debate flips the classroom. Students are the ones standing up and speaking. Adults are sitting down to listen. Students are the ones acting as policy makers, leaders, Presidents and Supreme Court Justices. The walls of the classroom come tumbling down as students pursue studies in every subject imaginable - philosophy, gender studies, constitutional law, international public policy, environmental affairs - to name a few! The thrill of competition and adrenaline rush of winning and losing arguments, motivates students beyond simple grades. 
“So, why debate?… What I find so amazing and so powerful is: I know of no technology, no force in our field of education which cause young people at this age to strive, to fight, based on words and evidence, but in doing so change themselves. There really isn’t much else like it.”  - David Coleman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the College Board and a New York City high school debater

Debate Closes the Civic Achievement Gap

  • One in four Americans do not know that the U.S. declared its independence from England.

  • One in three cannot name a single branch of government.

  • Three in four don't know why the Civil War was fought.

  • Only 25% of us can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment but more than 50% of us can name two members of the Simpson family.

"I think debating in high school and college is most valuable training whether for politics, the law, business, or for service... A good debater must not only study material in support of his own case, but he must also, of course, thoroughly analyze the expected argument of his opponent. The give and take of debating, the testing of ideas, is essential to democracy.” - President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy, and former high school and college debater. 

Debate Closes the Academic Achievement Gap

  • "Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse." - National Center for Education Statistics (2019)

  • only one out of three black and Hispanic students pass New York’s tests in reading and math

  • New York has only widened the achievement gap over the last two years. A student of color in New York City is less than half as likely to have been taught to read or do math as a white student.

“Debate is one of the great equalizers of educational opportunity.  In a number of respects, competitive urban debate is almost uniquely suited to building what’s been called the ‘Four C’s’ of 21st century skills—critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. And to that list I might add a fifth ‘C’— for civic awareness and engagement.” - former US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
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2020 NYC Elementary School Speech & Debate League