The Middle School Debate League debuted in the 2014-15 school year as a pilot project in 3 Bay Area schools. The project turned out to be a resounding success, with middle school youth eager to participate in the following school year. The middle school program expanded to include 6 middle schools during the 2015-16 school year and will continue to grow into the 2016-17 school year and beyond.
Why Middle School?
middle school debate league allows us the valuable opportunity to bring
students into our academic community before they begin high school,
setting them on an earlier path to success. The transition from middle
school into high school is an important hurdle on the path to high
school graduation. In 2011, more than 17,000 California 8th grade
students dropped out of school before entering high school. In addition,
a 2009 study in Oakland found that the greatest number of high school
students drop out in the 9th grade. Without intervention, under-served
students, either drop out or enter high school unprepared and set up to
struggle. BAUDL works to reach these students and engage them in the
academic sport of debate prior to starting high school, promoting
academic excellence and boosting confidence. By reaching these students
early, we help them enter that crucial freshman year with pre-existing
Why Public Forum Debate?
The middle school league participates in public
forum debate, which offers specific benefits to our youth, especially our
younger students. Public forum is an accessible model that allows
students to develop their voice in a broader, more immediately
comprehensible style compared to the more technical format of policy
debate. Middle school teachers report high success with integrating
public forum into the classroom. Students learning public forum debate
benefit from increased exposure to topical research and current events,
boosting their literacy, research skills, and civic engagement. Public
forum debate tackles challenging issues in a way that teaches students
to see both sides of the argument as they develop their abilities to
think critically and advocate persuasively.