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Debaters Perceive Problems, Envision Solutions

Two young debaters, Tawfeeq and Mason, sit behind a laptop and prepare for their next speech.
Mason and Tawfeeq from Highland Park Senior High School crafted their cases based on schools in their neighborhood and beyond.

If you had all the power of the US Government, how would you change the education system?

That’s what our junior varsity and varsity debaters are researching, writing about, and debating this year. They have been inspired by schools in their neighborhood and beyond. MNUDL’s debaters are building cases around this policy resolution:

The United States Federal Government should amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to include funding and regulation of a universal, public pre-kindergarten education program in the United States.

The 2017 topic is offering students a chance to engage with their in-school education out of school time by identifying problems and creating new solutions. Maya from Washburn High School likes that this year’s topic helps her connect with students from other schools. “It’s interesting because we relate to it. We’re all in school. You get to meet people from other schools and connect with them and make bonds through conversations about education. That extends out, and you can have conversations about other things.”

Read on to learn more about how students would change the education system!

Our students have developed great cases for funding and regulation of education in the United States:

Increase Funding to Diversify STEM Education

“I’m a minority and I sympathize with the idea that there’s not enough representation in the STEM workforce for minorities,” says Tawfeeq from Highland Park Senior High School. “I really just want to advocate for my ideas.” Debate gives Tawfeeq the opportunity to talk about how he would change this growing field in which he sees a future for himself: “I want to be an engineer. A computer engineer, do some programming,” he explains.

Increase Funding to Immersion Schools

Foreign language education is a popular topic among our debaters this year. Maya from Washburn High School and her partner have been advocating for more funding to the immersion school model. Maya argues that funding more foreign language immersion schools would have widespread impacts. “Our advantages are equity and competitiveness,” May says. “We argue that immersion schools work to solve racism and we could stop war.”

Increase Funding and Regulation of Charter Schools

“This topic really struck a chord,” says Mason from Highland Park Senior High School, who learned more about this issue at debate camp.  “Charter schools have a large amount of interest, but not the funding. On average charter schools receive [about] $4,000 less per student than public school.” Mason also advocates for tighter regulations to make charter schools more equitable and effective. “Some charter schools have been discriminatory against people of color and people with disabilities. In order to allow everyone to receive high quality education, our plan stipulates that charter schools have to meet the same standards of enrollment inclusivity as public schools.”

Increase Funding to Digital & Technology Literacy

“This topic originally came from a conversation with my coach about Mark Zuckerberg and companies doing surveillance against the US population,” says Henry from Highland Park Senior High School. “Technological literacy will boost the economy and digital literacy will allow people to protect themselves from mass surveillance.” While there are ways to protect yourself from surveillance on an individual level, Henry argues “we need the whole population to be educated” through a nationwide educational effort. Henry’s case warns of a severe impact we may see without a more technology-savvy population: “modulation, which is essentially democracy being destroyed through surveillance.”

Increase Funding and Regulation of Sex Education

Sex education has uneven standards in individual states across the US, and Haley from Central High School argues that this creates negative outcomes for students. “Sex education is important!” she says. Haley finds areas to improve within sex education in her own school: “It’s like, ‘here’s a diagram to label the parts of our anatomy’ or ‘here’s a pamphlet on STDs’. There’s nothing about any form of birth control. No options for LGBT or disabled people, nothing about consent.” Haley’s plan would mandate and fund inclusive and comprehensive sex education, covering these topics and more.

Increase Funding to Computer Science

Eli from Highland Park Senior High School wrote this case because he believes too many students lack access to computer science education. “In the US, a huge field of computer science has been created and millions of job openings need to get filled. If we’re teaching kids, we’re going to create more professionals in that area,” Eli says. “But right now, only about one fourth of high schoolers actually get access to a computer science class. If we don’t have those classes and don’t push people to explore and learn about computer science, these gaps aren’t going to get filled and we’re going to continue to have problems with this industry.” Eli and his partner have an interest in computer science and want other students to have the same opportunities they do.

 

Do you want to help us reach more amazing students like these? Consider joining Advocates for Debate, our monthly giving community!