Welcome to the world of debate – the most rigorous academic program since Ancient Greece. The New York City Urban Debate League has received local and national honors as one of the nation's most rigorous academic programs - 40 weekends of debate tournaments during the school year, debate institutes every day of the summer, debate practices every day after school, debate classes every day during school, and college visits every month - a student will double their academic learning time through debate.
“Anyone who bemoans the state of public education need only spend a weekend at a high school speech and debate tournament to have their faith restored.”
- Curt Stedron (School Teacher)
We change schools.
"Those who think public education is a lost cause should look no further than M.S. 50 in Williamsburg. There, Principal Ben Honoroff has leveraged his school’s Renewal resources, including additional learning time, to create a championship debate team. The debate program has not only won city-wide tournaments, but it has sharpened students’ critical thinking skills and helped them perform better on State ELA and math exams." (NYC School Chancellor Carmen Farina, New York Daily News, "Making Public Education Work," February 1st, 2017. http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/making-public-education-work-article-1.2961480.
We change lives.
"So, why debate?... What I find so amazing and so powerful is: I know of no technology, no force in our field of education which cause young people at this age to strive, to fight, based on words and evidence, but in doing so change themselves. There really isn't much else like it."
- David Coleman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the College Board and a former New York City high school debater
We close the achievement gap.
"The New York City Urban Debate League is a program that empowers underserved students while immersing them in public speaking, research techniques, civics, law and ethnic studies. Along with countless debating trophies, the program boasts years of data showing that their alums have higher grade point averages, high school graduation rates, college acceptances and number of scholarships than their peers."
- Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the First Lady of the United States, and the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, honoring us with the National Arts and Humanities Award for one of the top after school programs in the nation in the arts and humanities
High School Graduation and College Acceptance. 95-100% of our high school seniors graduate from high school and are accepted to college.
"Due to my involvement in debate the HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) staff took interest in me and accepted me to Hamilton College via their HEOP program which I received a full scholarship to Hamilton College. In the letter they said they were most impressed with my debate achievements and being captain on the debate team! Debate has given me so many skills and knowledge. We learn about things we do not learn in class and we compete against the best in the nation. I would not be valedictorian of my school if it wasn’t for debate! In college I hope to keep on working to help debaters in the Bronx.- Erika Marte, 12th Grade, Debater at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, Gates Millennium Scholar
Radiolab Podcast "Debatable"
The NYCUDL (New York City Urban Debate League) is part of a national network that teaches young people (86% students of color and 76% low-income students) to “think, communicate, collaborate, and love learning.... What I find so powerful about urban debate is the way it transforms a practice that can easily remain exclusive and exclusionary (because of its complex set of official rules and unofficial norms, as well as the financial costs of camps, travel, and materials) into an inclusive space in which students of color can experiment with forms of creative expression that push the boundaries of civic dialogue. While policy debate has a strict structure of timed speeches and speaking roles, urban debaters have innovated with how those minutes are used to address the resolution at hand. If you have not heard the recent Radiolab podcast exploring the ways that urban debaters are using hip hop and performative politics to upend traditional assumptions about who can participate in debate and how debate looks and sounds, drop everything and listen to it now. It offers an incisive analysis about how urban debate is not simply about offering students of color access to an activity that can improve their academic skills, but also about students of color transforming this foundational civic activity by introducing new forms of expression.I am now working with the New York City Department of Education’s Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI) to study the impacts of expanding debate from the high school level into the city’s middle schools. Students in MSQI schools experience debate in the classroom through the Word Generation literacy curriculum and now have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular debate tournaments, where they debate resolutions about issues ranging from military recruiters in schools to the value of rap music.While our study continues, we have already found that debate encourages students to analyze complex texts, take multiple perspectives on controversial issues, and use their voices to advocate for social justice. We see debate as an activity that has the potential to bridge classroom and community spaces to support the development of young people’s academic and critical literacies.
“The Power of Debate as a Form of Civic Communication,” Digital Media and Learning, http://dmlcentral.net/power-debate-form-civic-communication/, Nicole Mirra, May 19th 2016