There's a bit of obfuscation going on in the three reasons I gave that the plan is conditional. Giving money on the condition that it be spent on a particular thing is not the same as giving money on the condition that states do random miscellaneous things, and those violations sort of don't bother making that distinction. However, I do think that the affirmative case arguably exploits its conditionality.
First, because ESSA dollars are only granted to programs conditional on those programs meeting certain effectiveness benchmarks, there's an argument that the affirmative effectively fiats solvency. They go so far as to claim that the plan's "targeting" answers back any criticisms of spending money on education ineffectively. That means they're not engaging with any of the literature about which specific interventions or regulations are beneficial. No matter how many times the negative proves that spending money on teacher compensation, or class size, or fancy laptops, etc. doesn't work, they'll have to answer infinitely more potential interventions. There's an implicit gish-gallop to this. This argument is admittedly kind of a stretch, but I think it's viable.
Second, more reasonably, because the affirmative grants ESSA dollars on the condition that states restructure their funding, they are able to get much stronger solvency arguments. Like you said before, it seems unfair to let the affirmative effectively give out bribes in order to induce states to make arbitrary changes in their policymaking. The affirmative gets avoid the trouble of having to prove that states will not just accept the educational dollars and offset them by moving other parts of the budget around. If you look at the PDF I linked, you'll see that states are required to adhere to all sorts of conditions not just on how they spend their money, but how they structure their school in general, in order to qualify for ESSA dollars. They're required to appoint a foster care liason, to provide equivalent services to migrant children, to teach to certain standardized tests, and a bunch of other things. Those requirements are benign, of course, but the general principle they allow seems massively delimiting. "Give schools money if they do X, Y, and Z" is too broad an interpretation of the resolution, even if "give schools money" is too narrow. There are all kinds of X, Ys, and Zs we could imagine teams successfully defending. After-school programs, charity services, community outreach, whatever.
The point of reading T is not so much that the T argument is unbeatable as that it moves the debate away from this prepared case that does a good job of anticipating the most common arguments at a novice/JV level.
Edited by Chaos, 14 February 2018 - 04:06 PM.