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Middle School Debate – National Topic

A middle school debater speaks in a debate round

“Debate helps you be more assertive and feel more confident when you’re in the real world making decisions. You can actually see pros and cons of both sides and understand which outweighs which.”

– Lily, Laura Jeffrey Academy

Resolved: The United States federal government should enact substantial criminal justice reform in the United States in one or more of the following: forensic science, policing, sentencing.

(View more about this year’s debate topic on the NSDA Website:

Due to COVID-19, the 2020-2021 season will likely be online. As a community partner program with Minneapolis Public Schools and Saint Paul Public Schools (along with a handful of local charters) our programming will continue to take cues from the district, city and state leadership. This will determine what debate practices and tournaments will look like as things develop.


In this program, students will build on core debate skills during the season and find their voices as young debaters, a foundation that will set them on the path to success in high school and beyond. We’re proud to host one of the largest middle school debate programs in the nation! Over 400 area students in 5th-8th grade learn the fundamentals of debate using the same national topic as other students around the country.


Students typically compete at up to 6 debate tournaments from January to March. Debaters are paired into partnerships (2-person teams) with a classmate at the same level of competitive mastery. Our debate divisions are designed to get students at every point of entry excited about debate, including Rookie, Novice, Junior Varsity, and Varsity. Rookie and novice are designed for beginner students. Junior Varsity and Varsity are designed for students who are ready for a higher level of competition.