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another idea i had was increasing the number of free/low cost debate clinics in cities i know in texas this is something that is a major problem for kids is affording camp in san antonio there is one being set up at reagan high school in july..which will try to cut costs while not cutting the diversity in education....i think the nfl system should be reworked to reflect a more ceda tournament style of national tournament how is up to interpretation any ideas?

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thats kinda funny because they never once insulted the debaters. at no point did they say the winners were undeserving or that they reached such heights on the pure basis that they attend circuit schools. in fact, i am pretty sure they fully agree with the opposite of that.

 

this conversation cannot move forward not because of shuman's or hyland's words - but because people wont let conversation develop because they are hyperreactionary to a single word without looking at the context or meaning being conveyed.

 

and yes, that includes you.

this means "For the 26th straight year, the NFL Championship was won by the rich, elite programs who can afford the expenses associated with traveling around the nation to deabte, while other schools, who lack such means, are effectively shut out of any glory." Just saying...

 

wat.

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wat.

 

Its called an attention getter. People use it often to get others engaged in the discussion. I have used it myself on many occasions. In fact, I have used it in post-round comments to get more out of debaters. And it works too. I once commented quite harshly on the speaking skills of a particular debater. She set out to prove me wrong. I judged her again one year later and praised her for her skills. So I find it hard to believe such tactics are completely awful.

 

I don't see you having a problem with Bill Batterman using it first.

 

And regardless of who wins, this will be the 26th consecutive year that a national circuit team has won the NFL National Championship

 

Bill has been here long enough to know that this same discussion happens every year. We repeat it every year because there are new debaters on this site every year. Should the non-circuit schools not be upset at the backhanded snide comment with which Bill slapped them in the face? Or is your contention that its okay to denigrate entire populations of the debate community as long as it doesnt affect the sanctity of the circuit style of debate?

 

So why does Duane's snide response to Bill uniquely deserve villification at the hands of many?

 

I eagerly await your response as to why Bill should get a free pass on his verbal assault while Duane does not. I am just waiting to satisfyingly chortle at your inevitable "Bill is awesome" defense.

 

And let me be clear - I respect Bill. He and I have had infrequent but enlightening conversations on cross-x and I have deep respect for his commitment to, hard work in, and significant accomplishments in the debate community. (But that low blow on a personal level was something else entirely. I chalk it up to a lapse in judgment. We all suffer from it from time to time, myself included.)

 

I know Hyland personally. I have known Shuman on this site for years of cross-x banter and fantasy football. I am about 99.9999% sure that both agree with the following statement:

 

It matters not if the debate gods themselves personally craft the greatest debate argument of all time and hand it to an unprepared debater; might as well be a menu to TGI Fridays. There is no replacement for hard work, but there is also no reason criticism cannot be levied against a brand of debate which amplifies the substantial inequities which already permeate the debate landscape.

Edited by Ankur

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First, I do not believe I owe any apologies - my remarks were not directed towards the kids at WY or RH, but rather at Bill's National Cicuit Triumphalism - the were not even directed at Bill himself. I believe a close reading of the thread will showthat Bill was the one who brought personal invective to the fore.

 

While I do not know Bill that well, I do respect the fact that he is a debate coach, that he gives of his time to help others debate. Why he felt the need to bring this to a personal level and attack me, I do not know. I was attacking the notion of the circuit, nothing more or else. Although I agree with Ankur, perhaps Bill was feeling stressed or saw red, and couldn't help himself. I forgave him his transgression.

 

I couldn't agree more with Ankur's statement.

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Is there a way to move the discussions about how to further erode barriers within the debate community to its own thread? That would be productive.

 

Good idea. It'll be a bit arbitrary selecting which posts move and which posts stay, because some posts are both appropriate for the intended tone of the thread (congratulations, comments or discussions about specific rounds, results, etc) but then also move to discuss barriers in the debate community. If a post involves any of the latter traits, I'll just move it into the new thread and keep it here too.

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Seems like a lot of the debate about Policy debate has started being answered.

 

Policy numbers are declining, and I believe it was the only event with less than 200 entries. Houston's openning remarks show the clear concern for the future of the event as it decreases in participantion and decreases in relevance to those who pay for it (mostly administrators and boards of educators). No other event is feeling the same threat. No other event feels like it has to justify itself.

 

I'm guessing if LD was under threat, organizations like the ACLU may be interested in helping out. Especially as thrilled as the judge from the ACLU seemed to be with judging finals.

 

I think it speaks volumes that Arthur Rupe was so very generous with PF. The numbers are way up and as organizations show that it is more relevant to them the legitimacy and participation in the event will continue to get healthier. Why is it that other than college programs, no other orgainzation finds Policy debate relivant to sponsor in the way the other forms of debate are getting extra sponsorship? And I'm not advocating "selling the soul" (though I firmly disagree that sponsorship is selling anything), but doesn't it concern any of us educators that the things we are teaching kids are not relavent to anyone outside of our activity? Is teaching Policy debate the equivalent of teaching sandscrit (only useful in an academic setting)?

 

Its interesting the the case that won the LD finals was saying that arguing principles is meaningless if there are no real world applications. That "the perfect is the enemy of the good". And Policy debaters are the ones that debate real world implications where LD is supposed to be all academic. So, what do we do to not just teach academic debate but debate that is transferable and relavent to the real world?

 

I think it probably is just as insulting to say, "Of course they were in finals, they were from circuit schools," as it is to say, "of course they were in finals, they had money." Both make claims that it isn't about the individuals. I think a fair statement to say is that for the last 26 years a team that was hard working and diverse in debating style has won NFL.

 

I do agree that if you have zero circuit experience, you are a very long shot to win NFL. NFL is basically 2 tournaments. The prelims are a qualifying tournament to a double elimination tournament. To get out of prelims, you really need to be able to debate a traditional style. To win in elims, you probably need some exposure and success with circuit style. That just is the way it is. And I don't think that is bad. Those who succeed then have stills in both, and that should be the pinicle of the activity.

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Mr. Volen: This report mirrors what I saw at NCFL this year - decreased policy numbers, right around a 100 teams, but bursting at the seams with LD, Congress, PF, and Speech entries. I'm not sure I agree with your statement about my statement being insulting. For better or worse, the Circuit has created their brand - there's a lot of good in that brand, there's a lot of bad. I echoed the perception of the Circuit among those who believe that those descriptors match the brand. Nothing more, nothing less...My interest is in making policy accessible again, so we see increasing numbers - but accessible in terms of allowing all schools to be able to afford the circuit, etc. To me, the final round debate was a model of all that policy could be - a very good round, well carded, well fought - and direct proof that speed doesn't equal quality of debate. While I appreciate fast, clear debating, with lots of evidence, etc., I can't help but wonder if policy were still the way it was in that final round, would we see more schools entering the event and revising programs? Someone cast doubt on the size of the camp I'm speaking from, but to me - the size of the camp is every school that no longer does policy, every coach who has walked away from policy, and every school that is not jumping into policy because of the isuses they have with the event - and that is quite a bit larger of a camp than the number of schools who do policy. Surely, there's some common ground, which we have to find. Otherwise, policy debate will be an event praticed by very few schools in this nation, which might please some - but it will hurt everyone.

Edited by hylanddd

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With all due respe...aaaaaaaaaaaahhh, to HELL with that! Stick it, sir. Duane is more than capable of defending himself, but speaking only for myself, I am not inclined to sit by while you bash someone who has twice your positive reputation. Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?They are also a magnet school focused on a college-prep curriculum exclusively. They have around 2,200 hand-picked students (who must achieve a minimum test score before they can even apply for admission). As I'm sure you know, they competed this season at Greenhill, Valley, UMich, Blake, MBA, Pace, and Emory (in addition to the Glenbrooks and the Northwestern RR, which are in their backyard but hardly cheap). When you said "UDL," I'm sure you meant for folks to infer you were talking about a basically private school that sends kids to elite tournaments all over the place, right? :rolleyes:How is that relevant to Duane's argument? They're not an exclusive, private school anymore? Times are tough budget-wise most places, but they still managed to get to Cali twice and Vegas twice...Again, did anything Duane said take away from their achievements? Yes, they worked hard, and yes, they are to be congratulated for reaching the national finals, but what does that have to do with Duane's concern?I'm glad he's here. You, on the other hand... ;)As opposed to unethically masterminding the code-breaking project every year? :rolleyes:

1. Whitney Young isn't a private school. If it were, 3/4 of the student body couldn't afford to attend. Even though Whitney Young was the first magnet high school and the most renowned, we still aren't exceptions to the numerous budget problems/ administrative issues that Chicago public high schools (CPS) go through every year. If Whitney Young were a so called "elite private school" then 20% of my teachers wouldn't have been laid off due to state budget problems.

2. There are selective enrollment schools within CPS. When you refer to us as, "a magnet school focused on a college-prep curriculum exclusively. They have around 2,200 hand-picked students (who must achieve a minimum test score before they can even apply for admission)," you aren't contesting the fact that we are in the UDL and that we are still apart of CPS high schools. Having students who are able to preform better on standardized testing and learn from an integrated curriculum, does not make us exempt from numerous extra curricular activities being cut because of the state budget problems I mentioned before. The debate director at Whitney Young was very close to becoming one of 20% being laid off. In addition, our debate program also came very close to losing an Argument and Debate class that meets 9th period, as well as any funding from the school administration.

3. Because WY is a part of the UDL, we are lucky enough to have compassionate sponsors who are well aware of the financial situation of UDL school districts, and thus make large contributions to an activity they believe has a lot of educational merit. This is how we were able to, "still managed to get to Cali twice and Vegas twice..."

 

I also noticed that you flip-flopped on your position when it comes to the relationship between resources and tournament performance.

See, congratulatory thread to Matt Fisher and Stephanie Spies:

"For all the "GBN has all the resources, yada yada yada" folks: This is only GBN's second NFL Nationals title this millennium. I think their victory this year has more to do with Matt and Stephanie being excellent debaters (as were Stacey and Michael in '01) than it does with how many resources GBN has at its disposal. A 26-debate winning streak to finish the season? You can't coach that (and you FOR SURE can't buy it)..."TShuman '02

 

and

 

"Yeah, my bad. I forgot about '04. Even so, the point remains: If it were simply a question of resources (coaching, funding, etc.), they'd win every year, wouldn't they? Excellent debaters win national championships. GBN has produced a bunch of excellent debaters; I'm really not sure how anyone can convince themselves that it is just a question of budget or some other such considerations..."

-TShuman '02

 

It seems to me that when a school from one of the richest suburbs in Illinois is told that their resources had something to do with their performance, it warrants a correction. Then should the same be said when someone wrongfully accuses two incredibly hard working debaters of their success being largely dependent on these non-existent advantages ?

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hylanddd, I think you misunderstood the point (or I failed in communicating). I was saying Batterman was just as insulting if not more so to those kids by saying the credit for them reaching finals was because of the debating on the circuit. I think it is insulting to every kid that doesn't debate on the circuit to say they don't have a chance because of where they debate, and I think is ironic that everyone has been accussing you of bashing the kids when it is just as dismissive to say that reaching finals had less to do with who they were and more about their travel habits. To say they were a product of circuit debate is just as dismissive as saying they are a product of going to WY.

 

hannanasser, I think tshuman was clearly illustrating that there are difference within the UDL and that magnet schools have more in common with private prep schools than non-magnet inner city schools. Private schools have budget restrictions too, so that isn't the arguement here. I don't know the Chicago area, but in KC there is a huge difference between going to Sumner Accademy (a magnet school) and any of the other KC Kansas schools. That isn't to say that the accomplishments of a student from Sumner Accademy is any less, just that as a school they are likely to be more competitive than another school in the exact same area that also could be UDL. There are different levels even within UDL, and they aren't all as equally disadvantaged.

 

I thought it was interesting to bring up the issue of sponsors for UDL teams. Does every school in CPS get sponsorship, or just WY? Doesn't the fact that WY has more money than other schools help it to have a more successful program? Would you argree that they would have a much more difficult time reaching finals if not for those compassionate sponsors? Sounds like the arguement that if they didn't have those resources, maybe they wouldn't have gotten there, which is the very notion that everyone was finding so insulting.

 

Those kids got there on their hard work and talents they developed. I think it is fair to say that they would have had a much more difficult time if they went to a different CPS other than WY. They did the most with their opportunities, and that deserves merit

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This may be a random point, but when I was at nationals competing in Congress (4 years of NCFL, 2 years of NFL), a majority of the students attending the sems and finals chambers were from schools that traveled the Congress TOC circuit. I don't think the TOC trend exists in just policy, necessarily. Anybody that's been in those late chambers of NFL and CFL is well aware of the 'circuit-school' voting bloc. I'm more than certain this is also indicative of LD as well.

 

The question concerning policy numbers and justifying the event seems less a question of circuit vs. non-circuit and more of a question of accessibility. Clearly schools are finding it easier to jump on the LD, Congress, and Puff Daddy bandwagons, but these are far from separated from the circuit/non-circuit divide that is prevalent. I believe this is largely perceptual, but I'll sort of keep my opinions concerning solutions to myself to avoid falling into the tar pit these threads sort of become.

 

I can assert, however, that the entry differential between Puff/LD/Congress vs. Policy is not happening because the circuit only applies to policy. This is nothing short of a hasty generalization.

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He wasn't only saying there are disparities. He was contesting whether or not WY should be considered a UDL school, or even a public school.

Magnet high schools in chicago public schools don't necessarily get more funding than non-magnet high schools. I'm almost positive that it there is a general amount allocated to each school every year.

And it is just not true that a magnet public school has the same resources/advantages as private schools. Having friends in both magnet high schools and private schools in chicago, i know this is just false statement. My post about the budget problems all CPS schools faced regardless of rank, is also proof of this.

Every CPS high school with a debate team is a part of the Chicago Debate League,which gets funding from private sponsors,to travel and have proper programs.

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Hanna,

 

I realize that your school is UDL, but you should also realize that your UDL school is not truly representative of most UDL schools. In fact, I would venture an educated guess that the number of opportunities you are given are far greater than those of rich suburban schools in Pennsylvania. By the sheer presence of so many circuit tournaments within driving distance of Chicago, you are afforded an opportunity to compete against the best teams in the country, day in-day out. In competing against the best, and being judged by the best, you have an opportunity that kids in say some elite private school in eastern Montana does not. Students out there could have a budget ten times greater and be able to afford less than half the tournaments you attend.

 

Now, of course, its not your fault or that of the school that you are in Chicago and the midwest has so many circuit tournaments. You are doing your job by simply working hard to earn your victories and defeats. Its also not your problem that being a UDL school, you may have an advantage in fundraising from third parties unrelated to the program. These are not your problems and you shouldnt need to apologize for them.

 

But what Hyland, Shuman and myself are saying is that there IS inequity in debate. Its not just about resources. Its about opportunity, the coaching and classes you have, the wealth of strong college programs in the area from which you can draw quality judges, etc.

 

For example, my former high school outside of Philly has not had a policy coach since before my time (mid 90s). We also never had a debate/speech class. It was a poor rural district when I was growing up. Few if any parents could afford to send their kids to debate camp, the furthest we traveled for a non-nationals tournament was Princeton NJ (right across the river from Philly) and there were no strong collegiate policy teams in the area. What I learned, I learned on my own through hard work and research and no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried or how well I debated, I still could never compete with the best teams because I did not have a legion of assistant coaches and researchers cutting this morning's newspapers for the latest, greatest politics disad.

 

Inequities are rampant in debate and the principles of conservative debate, debate on warrants, evidence analysis, etc (i.e. the things that are not dependent on having 8 tubs of evidence, going to camp to get new strategies etc) which provide a competitive balance because it is the very definition of hard work (its dependent entirely on the competitor's brain, not pieces of paper or number of coaches) are going the way of the dodo not because they are poor strategies and techniques; but because the people who mold the circuit have functionally excluded those competitors from the game.

 

Its ideas like 'author qualifications don't matter' which are exclusionary in debate.

 

And that is the trend of circuit debate, and that is something which we criticize. Not because we advocate your running nothing but stock issues. By all means, go run your critiques. Run whatever argument you wish. But we criticize it because the circuit is divorcing itself from the very fundamentals of debate which are the bedrock of the activity and the very essence of providing a competitive atmosphere for all teams, regardless of origin or resources.

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"In fact, I would venture an educated guess that the number of opportunities you are given are far greater than those of rich suburban schools in Pennsylvania. By the sheer presence of so many circuit tournaments within driving distance of Chicago, you are afforded an opportunity to compete against the best teams in the country, day in-day out. In competing against the best, and being judged by the best, you have an opportunity that kids in say some elite private school in eastern Montana does not. Students out there could have a budget ten times greater and be able to afford less than half the tournaments you attend."

 

- The purpose of my original post was not to contest that the sheer location of our school affords us the advantages you have outlined. The purpose of the post was to respond to claims being made about the elite nature of my school, which as a student there myself, I know are just not true. The only reason the Chicago UDL is granted more opportunities is because debaters like Kevin and Misael have proved that they are deserving of all private sponsorship and praise they receive. Absent their National achievements, they wouldn't have received more resources than other UDL schools. Even if its true that there are some advantages we have over other programs (I'm pretty sure that's inevitable with most schools) posts like the one Tshuman made blatantly ignore that their handwork and dedication was a prerequisite to these "extra privileges". There's isn't some inherent advantage that my school has that allowed their success to take place, it was their hard work that brought recognition to a fairly new NC program, that had very little funding/prestige before them.

- Also your claim that we have more opportunities than rich schools in Pennsylvania is also wrong. A quick glance at the average annual income of the students that attend WY, paired with what our school has to go through because of the Illinois state budget in my above post, both prove the nature of this to be false.

 

 

 

 

"But what Hyland, Shuman and myself are saying is that there IS inequity in debate. Its not just about resources. Its about opportunity, the coaching and classes you have, the wealth of strong college programs in the area from which you can draw quality judges, etc. "

Inequities are rampant in debate and the principles of conservative debate, debate on warrants, evidence analysis, etc (i.e. the things that are not dependent on having 8 tubs of evidence, going to camp to get new strategies etc) which provide a competitive balance because it is the very definition of hard work (its dependent entirely on the competitor's brain, not pieces of paper or number of coaches) are going the way of the dodo not because they are poor strategies and techniques; but because the people who mold the circuit have functionally excluded those competitors from the game. "

 

 

- I completely agree with the phrase that there is inequality in debate. Many students on my debate team realize this every summer when we don't have the money to go to camps we are fully qualified to attend, or during the year when we have to give our school checks for tournaments late. I fundamentally agree that there are discrepancies with resource allocation in this activity that have to be fixed and reformed. My original post was only responding to the idea that WY is some sort of elite magnet school, whose success is largely due to the so called inherent privileges our program affords us.

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I don't think that this topic should turn into some attempt to create the most accurate hierarchy of debate schools (although that's a bit too late). The reason I posted my first post in this topic, explaining Whitney Young's economic situation, and the reason that Hanna continues that line of argumentation, is because I think the school's debate team was pretty upset to see that the topic had been turned to the question of whether or not we qualify as a private school or UDL school. Implicit questions being asked like "is a school more elite if it's discrimination is done by merit or income" and "is Whitney Young really a UDL school? can they really represent the entire UDL when they are so privileged?" turn a discussion on the national tournament into the Oppression Olympics (and obviously Whitney Young is no Michael Phelps in that respect).

 

Rather than trying to rank Rowland Hall or Whitney Young as more or less well-off than this or that school, which to be honest (at least from my perspective, and this is partially my fault by contributing to it) a large portion of this topic has been, we should focus back on solutions that can solve resource inequality in the debate community at large. We all agree, for the most part, that there is a problem. We should focus less the magnitude of the problem for individual cases and the overall scope of the problem and how to create institutional changes that can solve or ameliorate parts of the problem.

 

To anyone (Duane, Terrence) who is confused why it is slightly offensive or at least slightly disenchanting to question the extent of a particular program's financial problems, try to see it from the point of view of our program (who I am speaking for now). When a program that is the oldest school in an urban debate league, that travels with and contributes to and represents an urban debate league (although the school, as a merit-based magnet school, is indeed considerably more well-off than other members in the UDL) wins a championship, comments that argue we are not really in the UDL because we're so elite are frustrating. This is more rhetorical and I'm not totally expecting a response. If you can't see how comments that call our school "a basically private school that sends kids to elite tournaments all over the place" can't be perceived as accusatory, then I guess we are at an impasse.

 

If anyone wants to have a general, level, discussion about how funding works in the CDL, I'm willing to talk about my experience. It's a really complicated process that probably gives privilege to teams from magnet schools but tries to spread money equally while also taking into account how hard teams work and how likely teams will be to win. For example, in the 2007-8 high school topic, the CDL traveled no one on planes, instead preferring to travel anyone who had shown initiative (about 16 schools) to cut cards. However, some of the students were disrespectful, wasted money by ordering room service and $1000 of wifi at a single tournament, and there was not enough success to justify all of the money being spent, so they switched gears to focus on a few teams that they groomed to be successful. By my senior year, they canceled that program and our coaches and ourselves had to seek private sponsorship (which is certainly made easier by our position in Chicago, but is not unattainable, as some debate schools with less money and institutional support like Kelly have at times found enough private sponsorship to subsidy all of their kids to go to camp for free). The bottom line is that there is no way to "rank" who is more privileged, and accusations like "you're privileged! recognize that!" do nothing but further segment the community into rigid blocks of the established NC community versus people who criticize aspects of NC travel, like Ankur, Duane, Shuman, Mr. Volen, etc. There is no way to "boil down" different levels of privilege and there's obviously no way to place culpability upon debaters who are really just trying to work hard and do their best.

 

Now, returning to the broader picture of the reality of policy debate.. Unarguably, tons of different factors other than individual motivation, work ethic, talent, intelligence, and debate ability, be they social (parental support), geographic (proximity of NC tournaments, schools, and debating, quality of neighborhood schools, safety of the neighborhood, whether or not your school happens to have a debate team), political (whether or not your state will even LET you go to the TOC), economic (personal income, neighborhood income, the ability of your high school to subsidize travel costs, coaching salaries, database access, and other resources, computer and internet access at large, library database access), come into play when determining who wins the national championship. Dumb luck (like us rather than GBN, who defeated us earlier, getting the bye round 15) comes into play.

 

Nonetheless, as tons of people - Ankur, Tim, Les, Ms. Tate, Jim, Drew, etc - have said, a national championship is something that we should take pride in and not feel guilty for or undeserving of. Even though there are people who will disagree, we have surmounted many institutional hurdles unique to our social and economic location, be they more, less, or simply incomparable to those in other areas. We have certainly had many privileges bestowed upon us too, many of which I've listed above. Determining whether we were more privileged or underprivileged, however, is not only impossible but pointless. I know I worked hard while also knowing that I got somewhat lucky (whether in a particular ballot or in my socio-economic location), at least compared to somebody, and I am proud of the accomplishment that Misael and I, our coaches, our team, the school, and the CDL achieved.

 

I don't think this post will change the flow of the topic, and I'm not just making a personal plea because I'm uncomfortable discussing the socio-economic location of both myself and others (I think I've shown I'm pretty open to discussing it). However, I think that if we channel our collective efforts on this thread, other threads, in coaching seminars and debate camps, and as advocates of debate to discussing and then attaining solutions, however small, to improving access to debate across all hurdles, be they social, geographic, economic, political, or something else entirely. I don't mean to imply that people are spending their lives on this thread or website or topic in general, as they're obviously not. I don't think this discussion is a waste of time (or else I'd be pretty culpable in wasting a lot of time as well), but I think that it would be optimal to zoom out the lenses from a careful inspection of Whitney Young and Rowland Hall's programs to the entire country at large. ... so far, the only solution I've seen was from Tahmoressi, who suggested that tournaments should be free.... that solution was (admittedly expectedly) roundly panned.

 

As any critique debater knows, the hardest part of the K to win against a good affirmative team is the alternative. I don't really know what best should be done. This summer, I'm working with my partner, Misael, and many others at a UDL summer camp that will hopefully try and compel a lot of urban debaters to embrace debate as we have while instructing them on the topic. We're also writing a set of core files that we hope will bring more NC argument flavor (something lacking before) to the UDL. I think that schools should try and transition to paperless debate; it allows a ton of schools to carpool buses, saves plane travel costs, and would work hand-in-hand with laptops-for-students programs that I think will greatly improve the across-the-board educational curriculum in an affordable manner (I can send some links out to studies on laptops in education for anyone interested). I think that Ankur's suggestion of sharing buses to save on travel costs was another great one, that if made mainstream across the country could save thousands; I've shared buses with teams from Oak Park River Forest, Maine East, Homewood-Flossmoor, and every team in Chicago proper through the CDL, and I know that saves a ton of costs. Transitioning tournaments to however Lakeland is funded would be another fantastic solution, to create an affordable regional travel circuit in each area of the country; I drove with two debaters on our team to Lakeland from Chicago without stopping, and the free housing and tournament costs allowed us to get there for the price of gas, and we could have funded 2-3 varsity policy teams to get to New York from Chicago for about $500 (as they were hospitable enough to let me judge novice to fill our judging commitment).

 

That I don't have a grandiose solution is probably not unexpected - I'm involved in a discussion with dozens of educators who have devoted their lives to debate, whereas I have just dedicated a single high school career, so from here I will defer to the experience and wisdom of those who are older than me...

Edited by kevinwy

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Kevin, I wish some of the others from your segment of our community were able to speak so eloquently and without personal rancor - the could learn from you.

 

I want to clarify a few things - one: I don't know you, and I am very happy that you won a national title! To win one must be amazing. Two: My problem is not with your school, the CDL, or the concept of debate as it is practiced on the circuit. Alright then..so let's move on.

 

I think your solution, as you have voiced it, is a start - by helping others to reach the argument level that is featured at the circuit level, that's a good start. And programs that can help others travel the circuit are good too - it's a shame that the CDL had to cancel the one you wrote about.

 

After reading this thread - and I'm sorry that more circuit coaches/debaters didn't get involved - I think it will take a regional effort to move towards making the circuit more attainable. We are starting to see that here in the East Coast - Lakeland going free, Pennsybury being granted a bid, Scranton revisting its tournament - these are three more chances for teams in Virginia to get to the circuit and debate. It might take a Capitol Debate model where a bunch of schools band together to pool resources, etc. I don't know..something.

 

 

I know this - policy is shrinking, and until both sides of this divide put down the barbs and start talking honestly, it will continue to do so. Besides, as a non-debate coach said to me today when I was explaining this situation to them, he said: "haven't ya'll forgotten this is a kid's activity? So why aren't ya'll working together to help ALL of the kids out?" I thought it was a wise statement from a person who has never seen a debate round in their life, and who was surprised to hear that debate is that big of a deal in high schools.

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After reading this thread - and I'm sorry that more circuit coaches/debaters didn't get involved - I think it will take a regional effort to move towards making the circuit more attainable. We are starting to see that here in the East Coast - Lakeland going free, Pennsybury being granted a bid, Scranton revisting its tournament - these are three more chances for teams in Virginia to get to the circuit and debate. It might take a Capitol Debate model where a bunch of schools band together to pool resources, etc. I don't know..something.

 

I think strengthening regions is crucial to future survival of the activity. Costs and liability concerns are going to keep more and more teams from traveling great distances. If they are to debate, they will have to do it locally for the most part.

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Very well written Kevin. So lets talk solutions.

 

One way to reduce the inequalities (whatever the magnitude) of policy debate is to make it cheaper. And since the largest expense that is discrecionary is travel, lets put everyone on a level playing field and limit traveling to national tournaments. Its a thought. One that I agree with not only as an educator but as a tax payer and an employee of a sponsor of the UDL. Instead of paying for 10 or less kids to spend an extended weekend halfway accross the country, lets foster new local debate programs in other urban schools. For every NC tournament, we could have dozens of local tournaments. Think of all the kids that have zero opportunity for acheiving because they have no program at the cost of other kids travelling. That isn't to say that the kids in the current system should feel guilty for making the most of their opportunities, just that they may think about being willing to reform the entire system and give up some of the "extras" they were fortunate to receive for the benefit of others.

 

Lets be more inclusive of the local community drawing in parents and local leaders to be more involved in the activity so they fight for it when it faces budget cuts and are willing to fill in gaps when those cuts become inevitable. That might mean actually allowing parents to judge to get an idea of what this is all about. That would mean a sacrifice of some high academic rounds, but would give the community something to be involved in rather than just the few. I prefer in competitive rounds that we put "qualified" judges in, but at invitationals, perhaps including and in effect training outsiders would be a good way to keep costs down, bring in more support, and add some diversity to the debate style.

 

Lets make policy debate relavent to those with the purse strings so that they see it as an investment (like the speech from the hilarious executive from Lincoln financial). This may mean that they see we are developing the skills they find important, rather than the ones we like to work on. Less developing speed drills and counter intuitive arguments and more balancing critical thinking and strategy with persuasive speaking. Less debating in a pure academic sense and more perparing people for their future. There is a reason LD and PF are getting more corporate support. Rather than put our heads in the sand and say, "yeah, but we are better," perhaps we should swallow some of that arrogance and say it isn't about impressing those within our miniscule community, but it is about impressing those that we turn our noses up to and say they are unworthy to judge us.

 

Those are some of my thoughts on the alternative.

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I'd like to see an exploration of using national tournaments in a format where video could be used. For example, what if we had the best teams competing from LA and Boston in there respective schools. We could have one video camera connecting to a program(if synergy can exist what can't) that helps students compete. Cards can be sent via the paperless format to a judge who is also watching. A team would need two videocameras(they can run cheap) and a few laptops(a lot are paperless now) and they could eliminate long distance travel costs. This idea might seem crazy, but so did using computers for blocks and going fast. That way everyone can do what they need to.

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Burgandy - that would surely work well, especially as video and microphone tech continues to improve so that the deliverly speed would not be an issue. THere might be some things to get around - like figuring out how to ensure that nobody was off screen prompting the debaters, etc. But yes, this has promise to solve a lot of the expense related costs.

To the other poster - Haters: Very constructive..

 

One thought on resources and why they matter - it can be very hard to get good quality coaching for your kids once they get to the level that they need that type of coaching without money. Coaches need money, I get this - very few young kids who go into coaching can afford to work for free. Schools that have larger budgets can probably pay their assistants well, schools that do not have those resources cannot - so the coaches gravitate, in the majority of cases - to the school that can pay. Thus, that puts us at a disadvantage. I have no doubt, either, that schools that have been in the debate game long enough, who have sent debaters off to college, can turn to their alumn and say "can you help us out? We need some judging/coaching, etc., for free this weekend. Programs not as established, or who have played the game for different reasons - not turning out a lot of college debaters - do not have that oppurtunity. I think it's great that WY got the volunteer coaching they got this year. I benefited from some oustanding assistants at Yorktown (none of whom I could pay a 1/20th of what they deserved), but other schools lack those abilities - and that is a resource disparity that impacts performance. A kid can be the hardest worker in the world, but if there's not someone who can explain the argument, they are behind.

 

I think an answer to this is probably going on now, through informal networks of coaches helping kids out online, etc. I wish that were done in a better model, I've had mixed results with it, but it is a viable model. I've seen it happens in LD. I noted that Victory Brief reported that both finalists in the NCFL LD Finals this year were both coached by the same << group>> of coaches, so it probably works in policy. It might be good to have more coaching clinics, where coaches who don't know a lot about coaching specific argumetns could benefit from intense interaction with coaches who do. That might also break down some of the rancor and the assumptions made about people. I think if we all got to know each other as people, we'd be a lot friendler. And, our kids would benefit from these networks and informal/formal associations, as evidenced by the work in this year's final round of NCFL LD. (this was the message as intended, my personal opinion clouded the matter.)

 

Which, leads me to the last point. The circuit needs to become friendler to people who don't have the pedigree of having debating at the higher levels in college. I cannot count the number of young coaches who have gone off to circuit tournaments - because their kids want to go to them - and who come back and use words like "hostile," "clubby," "cold," etc. to describe the atmosphere. I never felt particuarly welcome at the circuit level -and that was before I became such an "equity for all" activist. I think we should remember we all give up our weekends, and far more than that, to do this activity - and that is what makes us all equals. Sometimes I think a coach who is a good friend of mine is correct when they say that sometimes it seems that coaches forget it's for the kids, not themselves, and not the greater glory of X school.

 

To the person who noted the proliferation of the TOC in speech/Congress, etc. Yep....I see this as a hard obstacle to success for kids who can't afford to travel to those tourneys either - but in speech, maybe not so much - there are some brilliant extempers in places who never see the circuit, but still do well at nationals. So it's hard to say. Congress at that level is just bafflling, if you aren't circuit, it does seem like you can forget about success, but there are exceptions.

 

I have edited this post to make it a bit clearer - I was tryign to deliver a positive message with the LD final From NCFL this year, but I loused it up.

Edited by hylanddd

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It wouldn't surprise me, given his activity in promoting debate around the world - video debating might be on heck of a breakthrough. There's an analogy to sports, actually. I collect old books, and one of the books I have is a 1955 atheltics directors handbook from the National Federation. It talks about using telegraphic or telephonic events to make it affordable to have competitions where travel costs and circumstances would normally prevent such things. I think the way it works (as I don't have the book handy) is an official from one school would go to the other, and would time the events, the times would then be relayed back to the other school where an official from the other school would relay back those times, and so on - so that winners could be determined.k That way, you only paid for one person to travel from each school, but you still had a match. Sounded interesting.

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Ankur and I share a desire for more questioning of evidence and assumptions, more "defense" in debate. But I want to highlight something he's written:

 

"Inequities are rampant in debate and the principles of conservative debate, debate on warrants, evidence analysis, etc (i.e. the things that are not dependent on having 8 tubs of evidence, going to camp to get new strategies etc) which provide a competitive balance because it is the very definition of hard work (its dependent entirely on the competitor's brain, not pieces of paper or number of coaches) [my emphasis] are going the way of the dodo not because they are poor strategies and techniques; but because the people who mold the circuit have functionally excluded those competitors from the game."

 

This is a false dichotomy that begs interrogation, privileging analytics over the [caricatured] 8 tubs of evidence, platoons of coaches spoonfeeding contestants. I very much wish that more analytic work happened in rounds; that doesn't mean that analytics are "the very definition of hard work" (to the implicit denigration of other hard work). The plucky independent traditional debater, the mindless-robot circuit debater; the narrative goes on . . . mindlessness and plucky independence transcend those categories. And of course the best rebuttals in circuit debate and in any debate are thoroughly "analytic," though perhaps not the type of analysis Ankur prefers.

 

If teams choose not to mark or develop or properly implicate that sort of argument, and/or if judges don't vote for it, well, that's how debate evolves intellectually, for better and/or worse; it is not the result of some hidden-hand circuit conspiracy ["the people who mold the circuit"].

 

In the same post, Ankur discusses the opportunities which "were given to" the Whitney Young debaters. I think it may be more accurate to say that those opportunities were taken, seized, worked for.

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Les,

 

I apologize. I did not proofread my post before I hit submit. Indeed, Whitney Young WORKED for their opportunities. Everyone works for their successes and failures. As I say, one does not simply trip and fall into a national championship let alone the right to represent their district. I only meant they were blessed with having so many circuit tournaments in their backyard. If you look at my geographic analysis that I linked prior, you will see that within a driving distance of Chicago, one could feasibly attend a circuit tournament on more than half of all weeks in the debate calendar (from sept to march when the circuit calendar ends). In the northeast, for example, its half that.

 

If we assume that the circuit draws the top talent in competition and in coaching/judging, and we also agree the competing against the best is the best opportunity to learn from the experience of competition, then proximity to tournaments creates a significant distortion in opportunity which can magnify the financial disparities. As I say, a rich private school in eastern Montana with a budget ten times greater than that of WY might still only feasibly get to three or four tournaments because its not the cost-of-travel; its the cost-of-travel-that-far. We can also then assume that if a debater learns from top competition, the top competition can also learn from the lesser teams which bring lesser judges and learning to compete in front of a non-homogeneous judging pool and competing against students who debate much differently also improve a debater, then the individual's debate growth expands when you have diverse squads in your region - ones who travel locally OR regionally OR nationally.

 

One of the most interesting trends I saw in my analysis is that the teams represented at the TOC mirrored the tournament distribution. If 20% of the tournaments were in one region, approximately 20% of the participants at the TOC tended to be in that region. It even held through to some of the elimination rounds (obviously it breaks down when you get to semis and finals). But its why I have been pushing for more bid tournaments (not just % bids) in underserved areas.

 

So I began wondering about some things.

 

So it made me think what would happen if you relocate all the bid tournaments to a single region? The teams that could afford to travel so far from their home would continue doing so, but the rest wouldn't be able to afford their current travel schedules. As a result, over time, their competitive strength wanes because they are not exposed to the level of competition required to compete on the circuit. (remember, one improved by competing against the best). My posit is based largely on nature. A lion doesn't need to run as fast as a cheetah as long as it runs fast enough to hunt down a zebra. A team that competes locally wont compete as well nationally because they only compete well enough to defeat their local competitors.

 

What happens to a tournament when you strip it of its bid? It dies. If you stripped Glenbrooks of its bid status, sure some teams would still come. But the teams from a far distance will chase bids elsewhere. Then the following year, teams from an intermediate distance will think twice because the best teams from outside the region didnt show the previous year, so they wont either. Pretty soon, it becomes just a largely local tournament. Teams chase bids. Its not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a fact of life.

 

But a lot of schools which travel a lot and produce the best debaters at the national level don't require their students to compete locally beyond the qualifiers necessary to get to nationals. As a result, local debate withers because the best debaters leave and the locals are left competing against themselves with no one to learn from. You end up with a large chasm because the two camps, local vs national circuit, end up as two competing schools of thought which are driven through inbreeding. Debaters refuse to cross lines. There are some schools that left going to NCFLs not for any reason than the variability in judging was causing their circuit style debaters problems and they weren't enjoying what they saw as "unjustified losses". And there are some schools that stopped appearing at regional and national tournaments because the circuit style was offending their sensibilities. IMHO, both are absurd reasons for changing one's calendar. The best debaters I have ever seen were all debaters who could step out of their comfort zone and debate anyone on any topic in any location in front of any judge. Not surprisingly, these teams were national champs, TOC champs, and so on. But back on topic...

 

I liken this to a gradual weakening of the entire debate landscape where the smaller, poorly funded schools begin to disappear. If you wanted a visual, imagine a night view of the US, and you turn off the lights in every town under 10K people. Next under 25K, 50K, and so on. The concentration of light that remains is what is happening nationally - regions where competition at all levels (local, regional, national) is high remain strong (lights on) and regions where there low competitive strength, debate dies. Its something that simply giving everyone money wont solve.

 

I am just recalling the major points of my analysis so they may be a little out of sync here. I wrote a much more flowing, coherent, and elegant analysis elsewhere on this site but forget where I wrote it.

 

But again, none of this is WY's fault or GBN's. Its not their fault they are in the midwest and more than it is the fault of a team from Montana for being in Montana. But the proximity of tournaments does amplify resource disparities significantly which is why I say there is a synergistic set of three variables which create the situation we have currently: resource limitations (coaching, judging, finances), access to tournaments, and the self-reinforcing cycle of the circuit/local debate.

 

=======================

 

One could argue that having legions of assistant coaches which cut arguments for a debater give that debater an edge because s/he will have an advantage in evidence. One could argue that having resources will help a debater attend camp and learn strategies and speaking techniques and drills that will help them develop as a debater. One could argue that having coaches help with your neg strategy in pre-round prep will benefit the debaters.

 

But once the round starts, the only thing the debaters have on their own is the brains they have. The opportunity to think on the spot and develop arguments on the spot, without the impact of outside resources (be it coaching, judging, finances, camp, etc) is what I mean by 'hard work'. Its the product of just the debaters. And as such, it is the greatest of all equalizers in debate because it doesnt matter whether you come from a small school or a big school, rich or poor, it is the realm where hard work always pays off.

 

I would contend that analysis without evidence is the most debater-driven, without a significant degree of outside influences (coaching, judging, financial resources, etc). One can easily learn the technique by reading books on the subject in the library or scouring the internet if one has access to it. A large chunk of it is based on the ever unpopular strategy of debating logical fallacies.

 

I don't mean to backhandedly denigrate the work of so many. That is not my intention. But I do mean to indicate that the shift in emphasis away from the argument and into strategy is something which the people on the circuit openly advocate and in doing so, amplify the competitive inequities in debate. So for all the talk of making competitions more accessible and affordable, it doesn't really mean much if the teams that can finally make it to the tournament don't have a prayer in being competitive because you chop off their tongue when they show up.

Edited by Ankur

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