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by Erik Fogel | Jan 19, 2014 |



This Monday we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. (also a debater) who used the power of speech to change the world.  Indeed, study after study show the obvious- when students devote their afternoons, evenings, weekends (all year round) to debate and the discussion of college topics (current events, civics, public policy, philosophy, economics, critical theory, ethnic studies) and the learning of college skills (public speaking, rhetoric, logic, research, persuasive writing, critical reading) that their lives change and they change the world around them.  Recently, urban debate was featured by Education Week in an inspiring article and video(http://nycudl.blogspot.com/2014/01/education-week-profiles-urban-debate.html). Study after study shows the benefits of urban debate:

  • Urban Debate improves academic performance. The thrill of competition ignites a fire in students, inspiring them to spend their afternoons, evenings and weekends researching, writing, note taking, speaking and thinking critically.  Study after study shows debaters receiving higher grades, attendance rates and fewer disciplinary incidents than their peers.
  • Urban Debate Improves High School Graduation Rates. African American and Hispanic students in urban schools have little more than fifty percent chance of graduating. In contrast, over 80% of urban debaters nationwide graduate from high school.
  • Urban Debate Prepares Students for College. More than eighty percent of urban debaters attend four year colleges.
  • Urban Debate improves secondary literacy. In a ten year study, Dr. Briana Mezuk found that African American males who debated were twice as likely to score at or above ACT's college readiness benchmark in English and 70% more likely to score at or above the college readiness benchmark in reading
  • Urban Debate Prepares Students for Twenty-First Century Careers  Debaters master the "4 C's": (1) critical thinking and problem solving; (2) communication; (3) collaboration; and (4) creativity and innovation.
  • Urban Debate Prepares Students for Community Engagement.  Debate gives urban students a voice. Debaters learn their ideas and opinions matter. Researchers at Georgetown University found the skills learned in debate are important to successful leadership in virtually every field imaginable. A survey by the National Speech and Debate Association found that sixty-four percent of the Members of the United States Congress competed in debate or speech in high school.
But you don't need a fancy study to show the obvious.  If you come by any of our weekend debate tournaments and see hundreds of students (from elementary to middle school to high school to college) discussing current events and economic policy, questioning each other on the validity of their evidence, reviewing each other's written speeches - and being observed, judged and evaluated by hundreds of adult volunteers passionate about the same subjects and skills - this activity is magical and our students are magical.  And this is essential not simply for college and career but the success and survival of our democracy.

So thank you for supporting urban debate.  Thank you for supporting our mission that every school should have a debate team and every student should have the opportunity to the best debate education opportunities.  Our students will go on to be the next President, Supreme Court Justice, educators, physicians, investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates like Martin Luther King Jr. 
Erik Fogel, Director 
Website:  www.nycudl.org
Debate Camp Website:  www.nycdebatecamp.org
Twitter: #nycdebateleague
Email: nycudl@gmail.com
Phone: 917-455-1079
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