Benefits of Debate

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 all summer, debate practices every day after school, and debate classes every day during school– a student will double their academic learning time through debate.

Why debate? Since the times of Ancient Greece, scholastic debate has been the most rigorous academic program.

Debate improves academic performance. Debaters earn higher grades than their peers, have higher attendance rates, and are more likely to test as college ready in English, Reading, Math and Science. Debate improves graduation rates. 90% of urban debaters graduate on time. Debate prepares students for college–89% of urban debaters attend college. Debate prepares students for 21st century careers.

Debate teaches critical thinking, problem solving, research, communication, collaboration and creativity. Debate inspires political and civic engagement. Debaters are more likely to vote, volunteer for a campaign, and run for office. The prestigious list of former debaters includes over a dozen Presidents, the majority of Supreme Court Justices (including the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, and the first African American Supreme Court, Justice Thurgood Marshall), governors, mayors, and all types of community activists. 

President Obama:

“Maybe you could be a mayor, a senator, or a Supreme Court justice, but you won’t know until you join the student government or debate team.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

“Forensics Club was good training for a lawyer in ways I barely understood at the time. You not only had to see both sides; you had to prepare as if you were arguing both in order to anticipate your opponent’s moves.”

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson:

“I’ve had extraordinary mentors like my high school speech and debate coach. She took me to Harvard, the first I’d ever thought of it, to enter a speech competition. Mrs. Berger believed in me and so I believed in myself.”