The New York City

Elementary School Debate League


About the New York City Elementary School Debate League


The New York City Urban Debate League founded the first elementary school debate institute and the first elementary school division in the country. Students are introduced to various Forensics events including public speaking, Student Congress, public forum debate, interpretive and original public speaking, and other speech and debate events.

Public Forum Debate is one of our newest debate formats and now one of our largest debate formats.  Each month a topic is voted on by coaches across the country. Students devote a month to study, research and writing on that topic.  Public Forum Debate is also unique in that it was founded to be easily accessible for the “public” so that any one can serve as a “citizen judge” and any student can be a debater.

The Student Congress format of debate is where students are in a classroom, decide on the debate topics, and the session is presided over by the Speaker which is usually a high school or college debater.  There are multiple topics at a given tournament.  Students vote on which topics they would like to discuss.  All students will deliver short speeches on that topic which they can prepare in advance or at the tournament.  Students also have the opportunity to cross examine each speaker.  Our elementary school debates are fun in that there is substantial amount of time for students to work together in groups and with coaches during the round.  The only emphasis is on education and so every student is a winner.

For elementary students who would like more competitive tournaments – our middle school divisions of policy debate, public forum debate and parliamentary debate  are also open to both elementary students and middle school students.

Elementary School Tournament Calendar